U.N. concerned over Kashmir unrest
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has expressed concern over the weeks of violent anti-government protests in Kashmir which have killed more than 30 people, dragged in more troops and locked down the disputed Himalayan region.
A separatist strike and security lockdown has dragged on for nearly a month-and-a-half in Muslim-majority Kashmir, a region at the core of a dispute between India and Pakistan.
“In relation to recent developments in Indian-administered Kashmir, the Secretary-General is concerned over the prevailing security situation there over the past month,” Farhan Haq, Ban Ki-Moon’s spokesperson said in a statement.
The Secretary-General has called on all concerned to exercise utmost restraint and address problems peacefully.
But security forces, to quell the daily street protests, have launched a major crackdown across Kashmir and detained at least 1,400 people. The arrests are fuelling more anger.
Most separatist leaders have been arrested or placed under house arrest.
The government has ordered a judicial probe into the deaths of 17 people, mostly protesters, in an attempt to end the crisis amid the biggest demonstrations against Indian rule in two years across the Valley.
But separatists have rejected the magisterial probe and termed it mere eyewash.
The Indian government has blamed separatists and Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based militant group for stoking the latest protests but Kashmiris say the pro-freedom demonstrations are mostly spontaneous.
Most of those killed in the protests are teenagers and many who take part in daily protests are young. Kashmir’s new generation of radicalised separatists may prove a big challenge to New Delhi in future.
Analysts are worried that if New Delhi fails to check the growing protests, deaths and rights violations Kashmir could slide into a fresh phase of armed uprising that could hurt peace efforts between India and Pakistan.
Peace in Kashmir is seen as crucial for improving relations between the two. Both claim the Kashmir region in full but rule it in part.
According to the U.N. statement, Ban Ki-Moon has encouraged both India and Pakistan to rekindle the spirit of the composite dialogue, which was initiated in 2004.
One of the oldest U.N. missions, the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), still monitors a 1949 ceasefire line dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan.