By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) - A body of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has expressed concern over human rights violation in Indian-administered Kashmir, according to Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry on Monday.
The OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir met for an informal meeting in New York to discuss the "worsening human rights situation" in Jammu and Kashmir, a ministry statement said.
The representatives of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Niger and Azerbaijan attended the meeting, while the OIC secretary-general was represented by Agshin Mehdiyev, permanent representative of the OIC Observer Mission to the UN.
"Members of the Contact Group reviewed recent developments relating to Jammu and Kashmir, including the grave human rights and humanitarian situation in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and the tensions along the LoC [Line of Control]," the statement read, referring to a de-facto border that splits the Himalayan valley between the two neighbors.
Pakistan’s foreign minister, in his special message, also “sensitized the Contact Group that India had intensified its belligerent rhetoric against Pakistan, including threats of military aggression. In 2020 alone, India had so far committed over 2200 ceasefire violations. There was a tangible threat of further escalation as India might conduct another ‘false flag’ operation to justify renewed aggression against Pakistan, posing a serious threat to regional peace and security.”
“It was imperative for India to immediately lift its inhumane military siege and rescind illegal actions taken since Aug. 5; remove restrictions on communications, movement and peaceful assembly; release incarcerated political leaders; free arbitrarily detained Kashmiris; reverse new domicile rules; remove draconian security laws; prosecute military and civilian personnel involved in massive human rights violations; and allow unhindered access to the OIC, and UN fact finding missions and the international media to investigate the human rights violations in the disputed valley,” the minister said.
The Contact Group also called on the UN secretary-general, the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council to “call on India to halt the human rights violations” in Jammu and Kashmir, rescind the “unilateral and illegal measures” taken on and after August 2019 and to implement the Security Council resolutions calling for a plebiscite to enable the people of Jammu and Kashmir to exercise their right to self-determination.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts but claimed by both in full. A small sliver of the region is also controlled by China.
Since they were partitioned in 1947, New Delhi and Islamabad have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965, and 1971 – two of them over Kashmir.
Some Kashmiri groups have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with Pakistan.
According to several human rights organizations, thousands have been killed and tortured in the conflict that flared up in 1989.
On Aug. 5, 2019 the Indian government revoked Article 370 and other related provisions from its Constitution, scrapping the country’s only Muslim-majority state with its autonomy. It was also split into two federally administered territories.