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UK Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland urges India to lift restrictions in IIOJ&K

UK Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland urges India to lift restrictions in IIOJ&K
January 14, 2021

LONDON (KMS) – UK Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland has urged India to lift all restrictions in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) and allow a team from its High Commission in Delhi to visit the Valley for a first-hand assessment of the situation.

He was replying to a debate on the 'political situation in Kashmir' in the Westminster Hall by Members of Parliament (MPs).

The debate took place a day after the UK MPs discussed 'Persecution of Muslims, Christians and Minority Groups in India'. Last week, the UK MPs had lobbied for repeal of India’s farm laws.

Robert Buckland said that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been in touch with his counterparts from India and Pakistan to keep their communications open and manage regional tensions. “We urge India and Pakistan to exercise restraint, maintain ceasefire on the LoC and to improve communications,” said Buckland. “We continue to talk frankly to India about our human rights concerns and call for all remaining restrictions to be lifted as soon as possible.”

Responding to the debate, UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Minister, Nigel Adams said that the situation in Kashmir remains an issue for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political resolution. “We continue to believe that this is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political resolution to the situation that takes into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people," said Adams, who is also the minister for Asia.

Meanwhile, the worsening human rights situation was thorough discussed during a debate in House of Commons of the British Parliament where the Members urged their government to take up the issue of rights abuses in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir with the Indian government.
The House was chaired Mr Davies. The MPs criticized Modi government for its illegal and unconstitutional steps of August 5, 2019 wherein Modi government stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and placed the territory under unprecedented curfew and lockdown.

Robbie Moore (Keighley) (Con)

“Kashmir has been living under heavy lockdown restrictions since August 2019, following the special status of Jammu and Kashmir being revoked by India. We should be clear about what these lockdowns actually mean. No foreign journalists are being allowed into Kashmir by the Indian Government. Thousands of people have been arrested and face harassment and imprisonment without due cause: lawyers,small business owners, journalists, students and of course human rights activists. Phone lines have been blocked and internet access taken away. Although some communication has been restored, it is patchy and heavily controlled by the Government.”
Legal reforms have been made so that residents’ property rights can be revoked. Properties have been destroyed and innocent people are losing their lives. It is reported that nearly 300 Kashmiris have been killed and over 1,600 injured, and more than 900 houses have been destroyed since special status was revoked. That, quite rightly, is causing a huge amount of concern for many of my constituents across Keighley. These stories are being reported to me—to all of us, as we have heard—and they are harrowing.
I know the Prime Minister is due to visit India at some point. I hope that he will raise the issue directly with Prime Minister Modi and seek his reassurances that all is being done to seek a solution. The UK must stand for freedom and democracy. That applies around the world, including in Kashmir.

Paul Bristow (Peterborough) (Con)

“It certainly cannot be in the interest of the Indian Government for allegations of human rights abuses to be made repeatedly. Why do they not allow them to be independently investigated? My hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr Baker) was planning to raise that point today, but, regrettably, he is self-isolating. Muslims in the UK must feel that atrocities and crimes affecting fellow Muslims across the world are a priority for this Government. What the Government have done with the Rohingya and Uyghurs, as well as persecuted Christians, they must now do for Kashmir.”

“I would urge Ministers to raise with their Indian counterparts the arbitrary detention of Kashmiri political leaders, the 18-month arbitrary enforced lockdown on the Kashmiri people, the ban on access to 4G and the internet in that part of the world, the crackdown on a free and fair media and the allegations of appalling human rights abuses.”

Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon) (Lab)

On 5 August 2019, the Indian Government’s Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill unilaterally revoked article 370 and replaced the autonomous state of Jammu and Kashmir with two new union territories governed directly by New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Further to that intervention, Jammu and Kashmir has been in an Indian army-imposed lockdown, with the Indian Government citing security risks and the need to prevent violence. The lockdown, along with a communications blackout and an internet ban, has had a profound and far-reaching impact on every aspect of life in Kashmir, including health services, school closures and media freedom.