The United Nations on Tuesday once again urged the Indian authorities to unlock the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, which has been in lockdown ever since it was stripped of its special status on August 5. The government had recently restored postpaid mobile phones in the Valley but had to suspend SMS services to curtail possibilities of violence.
In a tweet on its official account, the international body expressed concerns over the current state of affairs in the valley, saying its population had been "deprived of human rights."
"We are extremely concerned that the population of Indian-Administered #Kashmir continues to be deprived of a wide range of human rights and we urge the Indian authorities to unlock the situation and fully restore the rights that are currently being denied," it said, tagging the official account of UN Human Rights.
"We are extremely concerned that the population of Indian-Administered #Kashmir continues to be deprived of a wide range of human rights and we urge the Indian authorities to unlock the situation and fully restore the rights that are currently being denied," -- @UNHumanRights pic.twitter.com/GQYF6Jqroi— UN Geneva (@UNGeneva) October 29, 2019
The UN condemnation of the Valley's situation comes right in the middle of the visit of 29 European Union MPs currently in Kashmir to assess the ground situation.
"We have also received reports of armed groups operating in Kashmir threatening residents trying to carry out their normal business or attend school, as well as several allegations of violence against people who have not complied with the armed groups' demands," said Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Hundreds of political and civil society leaders, including three former Chief Ministers of Jammu and Kashmir, have been detained on a preventative basis, he said.
While some political workers have reportedly been released, most senior leaders – especially those from the Kashmir Valley – remain in detention, he added.
"We have also received a number of allegations of torture and ill-treatment of people held in detention. These must be independently and impartially investigated. Torture is totally and unequivocally prohibited under international law," Colville said.
"The Supreme Court of India has been slow to deal with petitions concerning habeas corpus, freedom of movement and media restrictions," the spokesman alleged.
The MPs reached the Valley on Tuesday morning amid protests and clashes in which 4 protesters sustained injuries.
The Opposition took up the cudgels against the Centre, calling the EU MPs' tour a blot on democracy and Indian parliament. Congress and Left parties have asked why the local leaders were barred going to Kashmir but foreign leaders were free to tour the state.
On Tuesday afternoon, a member of the European Parliament who was supposed to be among the foreign leaders visiting Valley claimed India rescinded his invitation after he sought permission to walk around and talk to people without any security cover.
Chris Davies, the liberal democrat MP for North West England, said he had received an invite on October 7 but it was withdrawn 3 days later.
The MP said he had his invite withdrawn after insisting he is free to talk to police, locals and invite journalists along.
"I am not prepared to take part in a PR stunt for the Modi government and pretend that all is well,” Davies said in a statement.
Questioning the Modi government over its decision to allow 23 EU MPs to visit the Valley, he said: “It is very clear that democratic principles are being subverted in Kashmir, and the world needs to start taking notice. What is it that the Indian government has to hide?“
"Why will it not give journalists and visiting politicians free access to speak with local people," Davies said.
(With inputs from PTI)