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India voices disappointment over ‘unwarranted remarks’ by UN human rights chief on Kashmir

India on Tuesday expressed disappointment over “unwarranted remarks” made by the UN human rights chief on Jammu and Kashmir, saying her comments do not reflect the ground reality and any shortcomings in upholding human rights must be addressed in an impartial manner and anchored in non-interference in a country’s internal affairs.

“We take note of references to India in the oral update by the High Commissioner and express our disappointment over her unwarranted remarks on the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, which do not reflect the ground reality,” Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs Reenat Sandhu said on Tuesday while delivering India’s statement under the General Debate on Oral Update of the High Commissioner at the 48th Session of the Human Rights Council.

Sandhu said India’s approach to global promotion and protection of human rights is based on “our own experience as a pluralistic and inclusive society and vibrant democracy.”

She said India believes that promotion and protection of human rights are best pursued through dialogue, consultation and cooperation among States and through provision of technical assistance and capacity building.

“Any shortcomings in upholding human rights must be addressed in a transparent and impartial manner, anchored in respect for national sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs of States,” she said.

UN high commissioner for human rights Michelle Bachelet on Monday described as “worrying” India’s use of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act as well as “frequent” temporary communication blackouts in Jammu and Kashmir.

In her opening statement at the 48th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Bachelet acknowledged the Indian government’s efforts to counter terrorism and promote development in Jammu and Kashmir but said such “restrictive measures can result in human rights violations and foster further tensions and discontent”.

Sandhu said that India’s Constitution enshrines basic human rights as fundamental rights. “Our Parliament, independent judiciary, vibrant media and civil society ensure full enjoyment of human rights by our people,” she added.

On Afghanistan, Sandhu said the situation in the country continues to be of “grave concern” and added that the UN Security resolution 2593 should guide the international community’s approach to Afghanistan.

The resolution, adopted under India’s presidency of the Security Council in August, “reaffirms the importance of upholding human rights incising those of women, children and minorities, allowing safe passage for those wanting to leave Afghanistan and ensuring unhindered access for humanitarian assistance,” she said, adding that the international community must stand with the people of Afghanistan in their desire to live in peace and dignity.

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