Asserting that Jammu and Kashmir is an “integral and inalienable part of India, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday slammed the two UN Special Rapporteurs (SRs) for criticising its policies towards J-K and advised them to develop a better understanding of the issues before jumping to hasty conclusions and issuing press statements.
Replying to media queries on the press release by the Special Rapporteur on minority issues and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Anurag Srivastava, the MEA Spokesperson, said that the SRs “after sharing their questionnaire on February 10, did not even wait for our response”.
The MEA’s response comes after the UN Special Rapporteurs, in a press release on Thursday, criticised the changes in Jammu and Kashmir, starting from abrogation of Article 370 to enacting new laws. “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,” the Special Rapporteurs stated.
Srivastava asserted that the statement issued by the Special Rapporteurs has been deliberately timed to coincide with the visit of a group of Ambassadors to Jammu and Kashmir.
“It is deplorable that the SRs, after sharing their questionnaire on February 10, did not even wait for our response. Instead, they chose to release their inaccurate assumptions to the media. The press release has also been deliberately timed to coincide with the visit of a group of Ambassadors to Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
Foreign diplomats from Chile, Brazil, Cuba, Bolivia, Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Bangladesh, Malawi, Eritrea, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Senegal, Malaysia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and the European Union were on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir.
The latest visit of foreign envoys comes in the backdrop of District Development Council (DDC) polls, which saw huge participation and restoration of 4G mobile internet in the entire region after 18 months, which many see as a return of full normalcy in the Union Territory.
Srivastava said that the press release disregarded the fact that Jammu and Kashmir is an “integral and inalienable part of India and the decision of August 5, 2019, regarding the change in the status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir into a Union Territory of India was taken by the Parliament of India”.
Pointing that the press release fails to take into account the steps aimed at ending decades of discrimination, enshrining democracy at the grassroot level through successful conduct of local elections for the District Development Councils, and ensuring good governance through back to village program, the MEA said that Special Rapporteurs has ignored the positive impact of extending laws applicable to the rest of India to Jammu and Kashmir, enabling the people of region to enjoy the same rights as available to people in other parts of India.
On the apprehensions of demographic change, the MEA said that the fears are baseless as an overwhelming majority of domicile certificates issued in the Union Territory are to the erstwhile Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) holders.
Srivastava said that 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.
“We expect the Special Rapporteurs to develop a better understanding of the issues under their consideration before jumping to hasty conclusions and issuing press statements,” he added.