UN experts raise concern over India's move to enact laws in IIOJK that could discriminate Muslims, other minorities
- “The number of successful applicants for domicile certificates that appear to be from outside Jammu and Kashmir raises concerns that demographic change on a linguistic, religious and ethnic basis is already underway,” the UN experts said.
- The experts are in contact with the Indian government on this matter.
United Nations (UN) human rights experts have voiced their concerns regarding India’s decision to end Illegally Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir's (IIOJK) autonomy and enact new laws that could curtail as well as potentially discriminate political participation, employment and land ownership against Muslim and other minorities.
Two Special Rapporteurs on minority issues and freedom of religion or belief, Fernand de Varennes and Ahmed Shaheed in a statement said that on August 5 2019, India unilaterally and without consultation revoked the constitutional special status of Jammu and Kashmir, and later passed the 'so-called Domicile Rules which removed protections given to those from the territory'.
Changes to land laws by the Indian government are further eroding these protections, the two Rapporteurs said. They said from the number of successful applicants for domicile certificates that appear to be from outside IIOJK raises concerns that demographic change on a linguistic, religious and ethnic basis is already underway.
The experts further said that IIOJK, the only state in India with a Muslim majority, was established with specific autonomy guarantees to respect the ethnic, linguistic and religious identities of its people.
“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,” Varennes and Shaheed stated.
They said that these legislative changes may have the potential to pave the way for people from outside the valley to settle in the region, 'alter the demographics of the region and undermine the minorities’ ability to exercise effectively their human rights'.
The UN experts have urged India to ensure that the economic, social and cultural rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir are protected, and that they are able to express their political opinions and participate meaningfully in matters affecting them.
On February 17, a delegation of foreign envoys from African, European and Latin American countries, began their two-day tour of IIOJK. The authorities removed five security bunkers from the main roads in Srinagar, which locals said was done to give “a false sense of normalcy to the visiting envoys”.