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UN rights chief says he stands by report on human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir

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UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations human rights chief has defended the world body’s June 14 human rights report on occupied Kashmir that accused Indian troops of having used excessive force to kill and wound civilians since 2016 and called for an international investigation.

“I will still stand by it,” High Commissioner Zeid Raad al-Hussein said at a farewell news conference at the UN headquarters in New York on Thursday, referring to the report which India not only rejected as flawed but its media also unleashed personal attacks on him.

Zeid, an outspoken high commissioner for human rights, leaves his Geneva-based post on August 31, after serving a four-year term.

The first-ever UN report focused mainly on serious violations in Indian occupied Kashmir from July 2016 to April 2018. “The report makes it clear the excessive use of force was of a gravity that demanded the attention of the international community,” he said in response to a question.

“If 6,000 people were struck by pellets in New Delhi or in Mumbai, it would be front-page news. Why is it that if you have that number in the (Kashmir) valley somehow then that is something that should not be occupying the attention of the international community,” High Commissioner Zeid posed the question.

The high commissioner pointed out UN human rights experts were not allowed to visit Kashmir to make an investigation, and for an absolutely clear picture without any inaccuracy, “we have to continue to press for access in the region because then any discrepancies will be sorted out.”

“We are still waiting for the access to be given,” he said.

Asked whether Thursday’s damning New York Times report about the situation in Indian occupied Kashmir was inspired by the UN report and if the newspaper’s conclusions had vindicated it, High Commissioner Zeid said, “I don’t know if The New York Times piece was inspired by the report, but it basically dovetails what is in our report.”

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