UN chief voices concern over the situation in IHK as he heads to India

Published October 1, 2018
UN chief Antonio Guterres at a UNHCR meeting in Geneva in 2014. ─ AFP/File
UN chief Antonio Guterres at a UNHCR meeting in Geneva in 2014. ─ AFP/File

United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who begins a three-day official visit to India today, expressed concern over the situation in India-held Kashmir (IHK), and encouraged "positive dialogue" for the peaceful settlement of the ongoing dispute.

In an interview with an Indian journalist in New York, the UN secretary general said: "I remain concerned by the situation in Jammu and Kashmir I encourage positive dialogue for disagreements to be resolved peacefully."

Earlier this year, the first-ever UN report on alleged rights violations committed by both India and Pakistan in Kashmir released last month focuses mainly on IHK, and accuses Indian troops of being responsible for an estimated 145 unlawful killings, far surpassing the 20 people estimated to have been killed by militant groups during that period.

Indian authorities had dismissed the report as 'fallacious, tendentious and motivated', a UN press release noted, "Without examining it and responding to the very serious concerns about the human rights situation." The UN added: "We have been deeply disappointed by the reaction of the Indian authorities."

According to the UN press release, the report ─ which was developed through remote monitoring, after Indian and Pakistani authorities failed to grant the UN team unconditional access to the region ─ contains 388 footnotes that list the sources used in its compilation.

The UN chief will be in India from October 1-3 during which he will meet with President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Minister Sushma Swaraj.

His visit coincides with the beginning of events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on October 2, 2019.

On October 3, the UN chief will visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Deputy Spokesperson for the UN Secretary General Farhan Haq said Guterres' visit to the Golden temple will be a personal one.

Guterres will return to New York on October 4.

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