UN experts say Article 370 abrogation may lead to discrimination in employment and land ownership

Two experts from the United Nations Human Rights Council have raised their concern against abrogation of the special administrative status of Jammu and Kashmir. They said that the constitutional changes of 2019 could decrease the political participation of Muslims and other minorities and undermine their ”ability to exercise effectively their human rights”.

”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,” said Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues, and Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, in a statement.

The experts added that PM Modi’s decision may lead to discrimination in employment and land ownership. They said that it may have the potential to pave the way for people from outside the former state of Jammu and Kashmir to ”settle in the region, alter the demographics of the region and undermine the minorities’ ability to exercise effectively their human rights”.

On 5 August 2019, India’s Hindu right-wing government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and divided the erstwhile state into two federally administered territories. Later, the government introduced a new domicile law that as experts say may alter the demographics of the region.

In the statement, the experts appealed to the Government of India to ensure that the economic, social and cultural rights of the people of J-K are secured, that their political views are expressed and that they engage in matters affecting them in a meaningful manner.

The Ministry of External Affairs reacted sharply terming the raising of issues in Kashmir and those of minorities by the UN body as ”deplorable”.

”It is deplorable that the SRs after sharing their questionnaire on February 10 did not even wait for our response. Instead, they chose to release their inaccurate assumptions to the media,” The spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Anurag Srivastava, was quoted in The Hindu as saying. He said that the press release of the UN body was ”deliberately timed” to coincide with the visit of diplomats to Jammu and Kashmir.

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