UK rebukes India over human rights situation in Kashmir

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LONDON: The UK on Tuesday expressed deep concerns about allegations of human rights violations in Indian-occupied Kashmir and called for a thorough and swift probe.

Speaking the House of Commons in the first parliamentary session, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told MPs that he had raised the concerns with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during a conversation on August 7 and that the UK will carefully monitor the situation in Kashmir.

“In relation to detentions, potential mistreatment and also the communications blackouts, I raised those issues with the Indian Foreign Minister. The Indian government has made clear that they are only temporaneous, as strictly required. And of course, we would want to hold them to that undertaking,” Dominic Raab said.

“All and any allegations of human rights violations are deeply concerning. They must be investigated thoroughly, promptly and transparently,” he said.

While reiterating the British stance that the Kashmir dispute is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, the minister however stressed that the human rights concerns made it an international issue.

“The issue of human rights is not just a bilateral issue for India or Pakistan or a domestic issue, it is an international issue… we expect internationally recognised human rights to be complied with and respected,” he said, addressing a question from Conservative Party MP Steve Baker, who represents a large Kashmiri-origin constituency of Wycombe in south-east England.

“What we now need to do is try and reduce those tensions but also, on a positive side, build up confidence building measures to allow proper dialogue between the communities in Kashmir and also between India and Pakistan.”

“We want to see a reduction of tensions in Kashmir, respect for internationally recognised human rights and steps from all sides to rebuild confidence,” Mr Raab said.