U.N. calls for inquiry into human rights violations in Kashmir

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Srinagar: Government forces have used excessive force in Kashmir and killed and wounded numerous civilians since 2016, according to Reuters the United Nations said on Thursday, calling for an international inquiry into alleged violations in the disputed territory.

There was no immediate comment by either government to the report issued by the U.N. human rights office in Geneva, which called for justice for victims on both sides of the so-called Line of Conflict, Reuters reported.

“In responding to demonstrations that started in 2016, Indian security forces used excessive force that led to unlawful killings and a very high number of injuries,” the report said.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein called for maximum restraint and denounced the lack of prosecutions of Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir due to a 1990 law giving them what he called “virtual immunity”.

In a statement, Zeid called for the Human Rights Council – which opens a three-week session in Geneva on Monday – to launch a commission of inquiry into all violations. Alleged sites of mass graves in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region should be investigated, he said.

Tensions escalated after an attack on an Indian army camp in February that India blamed on Pakistan. After the two armies agreed on May 30 to stop exchanging artillery fire following the repeated deadly clashes, thousands of people from Jammu and Kashmir headed back to their homes near the de facto border with Pakistan.

Armed groups in Jammu and Kashmir have committed a range of crimes including kidnappings, killings of civilians and sexual violence, the U.N. report said.

Violations in Pakistan-administered Kashmir “are of a different caliber or magnitude”, it said, while decrying restrictions on freedoms of expression and association.

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