UK warns India: Human rights violations in IoK not a 'bilateral issue'

LONDON: British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that Britain had asked the Indian government to respect international standards of human rights, respect rights of Kashmiris and end lockdown of occupied Kashmir, which has now entered the second month.

Speaking in the House of Commons to give policy statement of the British government, Dominic Raab expressed alarm at the worsening human rights situation in occupied Kashmir as a result of the draconian clampdown on Kashmiris following the revocation of Article 370. 

The foreign secretary revealed that Britain has asked the Indian government that reports of human rights abuses of Kashmiri people must be dealt with transparently, thoroughly and rigorously and international human rights standards must be respected.

He told the parliament that Britain has raised the issue of communications blackout and lockdown in occupied Kashmir with the Indian government. He said the Indian government has assured Britain that these measures are “temporary” and Britain would hold India to these “promises”.

Raab said he has spoken to Indian Foreign Minister Jai Shankar to express Britain’s worry over the situation in the valley. 

“We are concerned about the human rights situation in Kashmir. I spoke to Jai Shaknar on August 7. We want reduction in tensions in Kashmir, respect for internationally accepted human rights” and we want “all sides to rebuild confidence”.

In a stern statement, the foreign secretary told the Indian government that the issue of human rights is “an international issue and it’s not a bilateral issue” and Britain expects that “these rights should be complied with as per international standards”.

The foreign secretary spoke after dozens of parliamentarians wrote to the Tory government asking it to end its silence and take a clear stand on Kashmir. He added, “The reality is we have raised issues around human rights.”

The foreign secretary was asked questions by MPs about the lockdown in IoK which had paralysed more than seven million Kashmiris. He stressed that India must ensure that human rights are respected fully and outstanding issues should be resolved “through constructive dialogue”.

Earlier, thousands, mostly Kashmiris, marched here in Britain’s capital to show solidarity with the oppressed people of IoK as the curfew and media and communication blackout in the valley entered the 30th consecutive day.

By all counts, the #KashmirFreedomMarch rally on Tuesday was bigger than the massive protest on August 15 when nearly 15,000 had gathered outside Indian High Commission after Narendra Modi’s government revoked Article 370.