Two UN-appointed independent human rights experts have voiced their concern over India’s decision to revoke occupied Kashmir’s autonomy and enact laws that could curtail the political participation of Muslims and other minorities.
UN experts are concerned that India’s decision to end the occupied valley’s autonomy and enact new laws could curtail previous level of political participation of Muslim & other minorities, as well as potentially discriminate against them in important matters.
The statement by Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues, and Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, was released on Thursday as diplomats from nearly two dozen countries concluded a two-day visit to the occupied valley.
“The state of Jammu and Kashmir was established with specific autonomy guarantees to respect the ethnic, linguistic and religious identities of its people. It was also the only state in India with a Muslim majority,” the UN experts said.
They noted that on August 5, 2019, India “unilaterally and without consultation” revoked the constitutional special status of the region and passed the so-called domicile rules in May 2020 which removed protections given to those from the occupied territory.
“Subsequent changes to land laws are further eroding these protections,” the experts said.
“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,” the UN experts said.
They urged the Indian government to ensure that the economic, social and cultural rights of the people of the occupied valley are protected, and that they are able to express their political opinions and participate meaningfully in matters affecting them.