MUZAFFARABAD: The visiting members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) on Tuesday regretted denial of permission by India to assess the situation in held Kashmir but said they would continue to refresh their request, officials said.

They said this in response to a “demand” by AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider that IPHRC members must visit India-held Kashmir at the earliest to see for themselves the organised massacre of Kashmiri people.

“The only weapon being used by the struggling Kashmiris are stones, but in response they are being hit by bullets and pellets which have left hundreds dead and thousands wounded, including visually and aurally impaired,” Mr Haider said.

IPHRC chairman Med S.K. Kaggwa said his body had been mandated by the OIC to “objectively highlight human rights violations”.

“We show our concern over molestation, rape, use of pellet guns and enforcement of draconian laws in Indian occupation Kashmir,” he said.

He said the IPHRC had placed a request to the Indian authorities in July last year to allow it to visit occupied Kashmir, but the request was not granted notwithstanding several reminders.

“However, we will not give up and continue to press them to grant us permission to visit occupied Kashmir,” he said.

Earlier, a documentary depicting the human rights situation in India held Kashmir was shown to the visitors. The documentary had been prepared by a Qatar-based TV channel.

Mr Kaggwa said the OIC had always supported right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people and it stood for settlement of the longstanding dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.

Earlier, the delegation visited two different camps of Kashmiri migrants on the outskirts of Muzaffarabad, where they also interviewed more than twenty refugees about the situation that forced them to flee their homes across the divide.

An AJK official quoted Mr Kaggwa saying on the occasion that the stories they had heard from the Kashmiri refugees were reminiscent of the genocide in Rwanda.

Muzaffarabad Divisional Commissioner Chaudhry Mohammad Tayyab briefed the delegation on the number of refugees and the facilities being provided to them by the AJK government from its meagre resources. At the Manik Pehan camp they inspected a ‘skill development centre’ being run by the craftsmen from among the migrant families.

They appreciated the work of the artisans. As the visitors went round the area, Kashmiri artists played the traditional musical instrument Santoor.

Later in the afternoon, at an army brigade headquarters, army officials briefed them on the physical and material losses caused along the Line of Control in Indian shelling.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2017

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