OIC expresses concern over India's denial of Kashmiris' religious rights

Published August 14, 2019
Security personnel stand guard during a lockdown in Srinagar on August 14, after the Indian government stripped occupied Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomy. — AFP
Security personnel stand guard during a lockdown in Srinagar on August 14, after the Indian government stripped occupied Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomy. — AFP

The General Secretariat of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Wednesday expressed concern over the curtailment of religious freedoms of Muslims in Indian-occupied Kashmir, terming it a "serious violation of international human rights law".

It denounced the "complete lockdown" imposed by Indian forces in occupied Kashmir even on the occasion of Eidul Azha, when Muslims in the region were prevented from participating in a religious congregation.

"Denial of religious rights constitutes a serious violation of international human rights law and is an affront to Muslims across the world," a tweet by the OIC official account said.

"The OIC urges Indian authorities to ensure the protection of the rights of Kashmiri Muslims and the exercise of their religious rights."

Read: Occupied Kashmir curfew to be eased after August 15: Satya Pal Malik

The Islamic bloc also called upon the international community, including the United Nations, to "increase efforts for a negotiated settlement of Jammu and Kashmir dispute on the basis of relevant UN Security Council resolutions".

Indian troops had clamped tight restrictions on mosques across occupied Kashmir for Eidul Azha on Monday, fearing anti-government protests over the stripping of the Muslim-majority region's autonomy.

The Himalayan region's biggest mosque, the Jama Masjid, was ordered closed and people were only allowed to pray in smaller local mosques so that no big crowds could gather, witnesses had said at the time.

The restrictions had come after India, fearing unrest, snapped telecommunications and imposed a curfew in occupied Kashmir on August 4, a day before its surprise presidential decree to strip the region of its special status.

Tens of thousands of troop reinforcements have been deployed to the main city of Srinagar and other towns and villages, turning the picturesque city into a deserted warren of barbed wire and barricades.

The lockdown, however, has not completely prevented protests.

According to residents, around 8,000 people took part in a demonstration after Friday prayers, with Indian security forces firing tear gas and pellet-firing shotguns to break up the rally.

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