he Ministry of External Affairs hit out at two UN Special Rapporteurs for criticising its policies towards Jammu and Kashmir, asserting that the region is an integral and inalienable part of the country.
The assertions came after two experts from the United Nations Human Rights Council warned that the constitutional changes of 2019 in Jammu and Kashmir could curtail political participation of Muslims and other minorities and lead to potential discrimination in employment and land ownership.
“The loss of autonomy and the imposition of direct rule by the government in New Delhi suggests the people of Jammu and Kashmir no longer have their own government and have lost power to legislate or amend laws in the region to ensure the protection of their rights as minorities,” said Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues, and Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, in a statement.
The UN experts said the new domicile law overrides previous laws which granted the Kashmiri Muslim, Dogri, Gojri, Pahari, Sikh, Ladhaki and other established minorities rights to buy property, own land, and access certain state jobs.
They said that it may have the potential to pave the way for people from outside the former state of Jammu and Kashmir to “settle in the region, alter the demographics of the region and undermine the minorities’ ability to exercise effectively their human rights”.
But India has denied this, saying that the experts published their observations without consulting the government.
“It is deplorable that the SRs, [Special Rapporteurs] after sharing their questionnaire on 10 February, did not even wait for our response,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement. “Instead, they chose to release their inaccurate assumptions to the media.”
The government alleged that the UN release had been deliberately timed to coincide with the visit of a group of foreign ambassadors to Jammu and Kashmir.
As for the apprehensions of demographic change, the government said that the fact that an overwhelming majority of domicile certificates issued are to the erstwhile Permanent Resident Certificate holders shows that these “fears are baseless and unfounded”.
“This press release calls into question the larger principles of objectivity and neutrality that the SRs are mandated by the Human Rights Council to adhere to,” the foreign ministry added.
(With inputs from agencies)