By Islamuddin Sajid
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) - The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Wednesday expressed “deep concern" over the worsening human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir with the Indian move to scrap its special status.
In a statement issued following a meeting of its Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir on the sidelines of the 74th session of UN General Assembly in New York, the Muslim body reaffirmed its stance on the dispute over the Indian-administered region.
The statement “expressed grave concern that India’s actions aim to change the identity and demographic composition of the occupied Jammu and Kashmir and to transform it from a Muslim-majority state into Hindu-majority territory.”
The Contact Group on Jammu&Kashmir was formed in 1994 to coordinate the OIC policy on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. Members are Turkey, Azerbaijan, Niger, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.
The meeting also welcomed a statement by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Aug. 8, which affirmed that the UN position on the issue is governed by the UN Charter, and successive Security Council resolutions.
The OIC statement “affirmed that Indian actions are inconsistent with international law, applicable UN Security Council resolutions and India’s own solemn commitments to implement UNSC resolutions.”
Jammu and Kashmir has been under a near-complete lockdown since the Indian government’s move on Aug. 5 to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Since then, the Indian government has blocked communication access and imposing restrictions on movement to thwart any protests in the region.
Several rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly called on India to lift restrictions and release political detainees.
India said that 93% of the restrictions have been eased in the conflict-ridden region, a claim that Anadolu Agency could not independently verify.
The OIC contact group also deplored on the lockdown of the Kashmiri people, round-the-clock curfew, detention of thousand people, including Kashmiri leaders.
The OIC said the settlement of the issue is “indispensable for durable peace and stability in South Asia and beyond.”
The group called on India to “rescind its unilateral illegal actions, halt its human rights violations in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir, including the use of force against peaceful demonstrators and repeal its draconian emergency laws including withdraw its heavy military presence from Kashmir.”
India and Pakistan hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.