RIYADH: The Independent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Friday “strongly condemned” the Indian government’s recent delimitation of electoral constituencies in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, terming it a violation of OIC and United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Last week, New Delhi issued a new list of redrawn political constituencies for India-occupied Kashmir, giving greater representation to the Muslim-majority region’s Hindu areas and paving the way for fresh elections.
In 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government broke up the India-occupied territory into two federal territories as part of a move to tighten its grip over the region. The occupied region originally comprised the mainly Muslim Kashmir Valley, the Hindu-dominated Jammu region, and the remote Buddhist enclave of Ladakh.
However, earlier this month, the Indian government said a delimitation commission had finalised 90 assembly constituencies for occupied Kashmir, excluding Ladakh, with 43 seats for Jammu and 47 for Kashmir. Earlier, Jammu had 37 seats and the Kashmir valley 46.
The delimitation commission claimed it had been difficult to accommodate competing claims from various sides, citing in a statement the region’s “peculiar geo-cultural landscape”.
In a statement issued Friday, the OIC’s human rights body termed India’s move a violation of international human rights and humanitarian laws. “IPHRC accordingly supports the unanimous rejection of the Kashmiri political leadership of these illegal measures, which are continuum of the host of other ‘Hindutva’ inspired illegal steps taken by the Indian occupation regime in IOJK in the aftermath of the 5th August 2019,” it said.
The statement recalled that Kashmir’s political leadership had always rejected and boycotted electoral politics in the occupied region and, subsequently, condemned India’s attempt to redraw electoral constituencies there.
OIC called the act “a nefarious attempt to alter the electoral demographics and dynamics in a manner that could influence sham electoral results to install puppet regimes of its choice”. “These wicked measures are aimed at converting the indigenous Muslim population into minority within their homeland and obstruct the exercise of their inalienable right to self-determination,” it said, adding that the measures were in violation of several human rights treaties of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibited any change in the demographics of occupied areas.
It further called on the UN and international community to play their due role to pressurise India to abide by the relevant UNSC and OIC resolutions to refrain from any administrative and legislative actions, which tantamount to altering the geographic and demographic status of occupied Kashmir, restore all fundamental freedoms of Kashmiris and repeal all discriminatory laws and allow people of Kashmir to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination through a free and fair plebiscite, as provided in the relevant UN Security Council and OIC resolutions.
Previously, the Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) had said that it had handed over a demarche to the Indian Charge d’Affaires, conveying the Government of Pakistan’s categorical rejection of the report of the so-called ‘Delimitation Commission’, which was aimed at disenfranchising and disempowering the Muslim majority population of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).
The FO had called on India to refrain from bringing about any illegal demographic changes in the occupied territory, stop forthwith its oppression in the IIOJK, and let the Kashmiri people determine their own future through a free and fair plebiscite under the UN auspices.