NEW DELHI: India has criticised UN rights experts for their concerns about constitutional changes made in Jammu and Kashmir and said the officials lacked neutrality.
Two special rapporteurs on minority issues and freedom of religion or belief said in a statement on Thursday that the Indian government’s decision last year to end Jammu and Kashmir state’s autonomy and enact new laws could curtail the political participation of Muslims.
Muslims and other minority groups also stood to lose on issues such as employment and land ownership, they said.
The external affairs ministry spokesman, Anurag Srivastava, said that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India and the changes made in its status were enacted by parliament.
One of the changes was that laws that were in force in the rest of India would also apply to the people of Kashmir, allowing them the same legal rights as the rest of India, he said.
“This press release calls into question the larger principles of objectivity and neutrality that the SRs (Special Rapporteurs) are mandated by the Human Rights Council to adhere to,” he said in a statement late on Thursday night.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government has maintained it revoked Article 370, which granted a special status to J&K, in an effort to integrate it more with the rest of India and open it up for faster economic growth.
Srivastava said the experts had issued their statement just when India was hosting a group of ambassadors in Kashmir to show them the ground situation and did not wait for a response from the Indian government to their questionnaire.
“Instead, they chose to release their inaccurate assumptions to the media. The press release has also been deliberately timed to coincide with the visit of a group of ambassadors to Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.