MUZAFFARABAD: A 12-member delegation of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) visited the Line of Control (LoC) on Saturday for firsthand account of the situation along the heavily militarised dividing line in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.
The delegation was flown to Chirikot sector in Poonch division of Azad Jammu and Kashmir where a senior military commander gave a comprehensive briefing to its members on the prevailing security environment along the LoC, official sources said.
The delegation was also apprised of the arrangements made for protection of civilians from hostile fire through construction of community bunkers, sources added.
The 740-km LoC had been witnessing unprovoked artillery shelling and firing from across the dividing line until February when India and Pakistan renewed the 2003 ceasefire, bringing relief in the lives of the affected population.
During the visit, the OIC-IPHRC members interacted with the victims of ceasefire violations, members of village defence committees and civil administration officials.
Speaking on the occasion, the delegation members said the situation in Kashmir was serious and needed immediate attention and action on the part of the international community. “After listening to the victims, this problem, this violation by the Indian government is real and it’s not being punished by the international agencies,” said Ahmed Azam from Malaysia.
He stressed that the sufferings of the Kashmiris needed to be documented and highlighted.
Underscoring the significance of the visit in the wake of India’s Aug 5, 2019 move, Dr Saeed Mohamed Abdullah of the UAE said that India’s decision was dangerous and violated human rights of “our brothers and sisters in Jammu and Kashmir”. He also expressed concern over India’s attempt to change the demography of the territory under its occupation.
Expressing solidarity with the Kashmiri people, Hafid El Hachmi of Morocco said that they would take the voice of Kashmiris across the world because they did recognise the level of sufferings on the other side of the divide.
Dr Haci Ali Acikgul of Turkey also spoke about the hellish conditions in India occupied Kashmir and said the United Nations Security Council resolutions offered a proper solution to the Kashmir issue in the shape of a plebiscite. However, he regretted, India was not recognising the right to self-determination of Kashmiri people and despite the lapse of more than seven decades was avoiding talks for the plebiscite.
Dr Aydin Safikhanli of Azerbaijan said that the purpose of the visit was to investigate the situation. “It’s not simple human rights violations; it really is gross human rights violations. It’s under the war crimes which should be punished,” he said, assuring that they would talk to the relevant international organisations in this regard.
On Sunday, the delegation will attend an in-camera briefing by the parliamentary committee on Kashmir in the Parliament House.
According to a notification issued by the National Assembly secretariat on Saturday, the parliamentary Kashmir committee chairman Shehryar Khan Afridi will brief the delegation on gross human rights violations in occupied Kashmir, with particular reference to the abrogation of Article 35-A and 370 of Indian Constitution and demographic changes being made to turn the Kashmiris into a minority in their homeland.
Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2021