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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

India using FCRA to target NGOs reporting human right violations in IOK

At least 18 unarmed and innocent Kashmiris have been killed in October and more than 40 others injured by Indian forces, Foreign Ministry.

At least 18 unarmed and innocent Kashmiris have been killed in October and more than 40 others injured by India, according to the Pakistani Foreign Ministry.

“In the brazen manifestation of state terrorism, Indian occupation forces, in the past few days, martyred five more innocent Kashmiri youth during the so-called ‘cordon and search’ operations and fake encounters in Anantnag, Shopian, and Pulwama areas of IIOJK [Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir],” ministry spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri told reporters  Thursday.

Forty young Kashmiris were severely injured due to “unprovoked” and indiscriminate use of live ammunition, pellet guns, and other military-grade weapons.

Read more: Kashmiris must be party to any solution to Kashmir, Moeed Yusuf tells India

Chaudhri, while referring to a recent statement of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet, said she has once again called the human rights credentials of the current RSS-BJP [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Singh-Bharatiya Janata Party] regime into question by expressing concerns about the arrest of hundreds of human rights activists as well as restrictions on works of human rights bodies.

India punishing NGO’s for human rights reporting

On Tuesday, Bachelet was cited as being concerned about the use of the  Foreign Contribution Regulation Act , which several UN human rights bodies have also said is vaguely worded and too broad in its objective, according to the UN News.

The act prohibits the receipt of foreign funds “for any activities prejudicial to the public interest.”

“I am concerned that such actions based on the grounds of vaguely defined ‘public interest’ leave this law open to abuse, and that it is indeed actually being used to deter or punish NGOs for human rights reporting and advocacy that the authorities perceive as critical in nature,” Bachelet said, adding that even if authorities find “constructive criticism uncomfortable, it should never be criminalized or outlawed in this way.”

Relations between the two South Asian nuclear powers’ have further flared after India scrapped the special provisions of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019.

Read more: Indian authorities in Kashmir seal office of leading English daily

Between August 2019 to August 2020, more than 350 people, including civilians and Indian soldiers, were killed in clashes and search operations across the Indian-administered Kashmir, according to a new report by Islamabad-based think tank Institute of Policy Studies in collaboration with the Legal Forum for Oppressed Voices of Kashmir.

It said 75 civilians, 196 militants — referred to as “freedom fighters” — and 81 Indian soldiers and paramilitary personnel were killed during clashes, said the report. Since August last year, authorities have detained or arrested between 16,000 and 17,000 people, including 662 political prisoners, it added.

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts but claimed by both in full. A small sliver of the region is also controlled by China. Since they were partitioned in 1947, New Delhi and Islamabad have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965, and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir.

Read more: Pakistan’s new political map: Implications for Kashmir, backlash from India

Some Kashmiri groups have been fighting against the Indian rule for independence, or unification with Pakistan. According to several human rights organizations, thousands have been killed and tortured in the conflict that flared up in 1989.

Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk