By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ANKARA (AA) – The UN chief has called for respecting human rights in Jammu and Kashmir.
Addressing a news conference on Wednesday at the outset of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York, Antonio Guterres said in response to a question on Kashmir: “I go on with a clear opinion that human rights must be fully respected in the territory.”
Guterres said that dialogue between India and Pakistan “is an absolutely essential element for the solution of the [Kashmir] problem”, according to a statement posted on the UN website.
The comment came after the UN secretary general was asked how he would go beyond making statements and “act to bring about a solution to this [Kashmir] crisis”.
Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir has been under a near-complete lockdown since Aug. 5, after India scrapped its special status, with the government blocking communication access and imposing restriction on movement to thwart any protests in the region.
“Well, our capacity is related to good offices, and good offices can only be implemented when the parties accept it. And, on the other hand, it relates to advocacy, and the advocacy was expressed and will be maintained,” Guterres said.
There are several resolutions of the UN Security Council which call for plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir.
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% restrictions have been eased in the conflict-ridden region, a claim that Anadolu Agency could not verify independently.
From 1954 until Aug. 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed special status under the Indian constitution, which allowed it to enact its own laws. The provisions also protected the region's citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.
Also, the Indian government further downgraded and divided the disputed region into two centrally controlled “union territories”.
India and Pakistan both 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.