July 8, 2019 / 2:09 PM / a month ago

Rights violations in contested Kashmir continue unchecked, U.N. report says

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - Tensions in disputed Kashmir after a deadly suicide bombing earlier this year are having a severe impact on human rights in the region, a United Nations report released on Monday said.

FILE PHOTO: Indian soldiers stand guard near the site of explosion in Lethpora in south Kashmir's Pulwama district February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Ismail/File Photo

Muslim-majority Kashmir is claimed in full by India and Pakistan, who both rule it in part and have fought two wars over the territory. They came close to a third in February after the suicide bombing of a convoy claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group killed 40 paramilitary police.

India accuses Pakistan of funding these groups, who want independence for Indian-administered Kashmir, a claim Islamabad denies.

The report, by the U.N. Human Rights Council, says that arbitrary detentions during search operations by Indian troops are leading to a range of human rights violations.

Despite the high numbers of civilians killed in the vicinity of gun battles between security forces and militants, “there is no information about any new investigation into excessive use of force leading to casualties”, it said.

The report was also critical of special legal regimes used by India in Kashmir, saying accountability for violations committed by troops remains virtually non-existent.

The report says that in nearly three decades that emergency laws have been in force in Jammu and Kashmir, there has not been a single prosecution of armed forces personnel granted by the central government in a civilian court.

It called for the repeal of special powers protecting troops from prosecution.

The United Nations also flagged a spike in hate crimes against Kashmiris in the rest of India following the February attacks, calling on India to do more to prevent the violence.

In response, India’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said the report presented a “false and motivated narrative” on the state of the region.

“Its assertions are in violation of India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and ignore the core issue of cross-border terrorism,” Kumar added in a statement.

Though the majority of the allegations in the report pertain to Indian-administered Kashmir, it was also critical of Pakistan for detentions of separatists in its portion of the region.

A spokesman for the Pakistan embassy in New Delhi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Fayaz Bukhari and Alasdair Pal in SRINAGAR; Editing by Martin Howell and Andrew Cawthorne

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