New Delhi: After a UN independent expert raised questions about India organising a G20 meeting in Srinagar, India rejected the remarks and accused him of acting “irresponsibly”.
Earlier on Monday, UN special rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes, had posted a statement on his social media accounts that the Indian government was “seeking to normalize what some have described as a military occupation by instrumentalising a G20 meeting and portray an international seal of approval”.
He was referring to the meeting of the G20 working group on tourism on May 22-24.
Appointed special rapporteur in 2017, Varennes claimed that human rights violations have only risen since India revoked the constitutional special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019. He also asserted that there were demographic changes being forced in Jammu and Kashmir by moving “significant numbers of Hindus from outside the region” in order to “overwhelm native Kashmiris in their own land”.
The Canadian professor stated that the G20 grouping was “unwittingly providing a veneer of support to a facade of normalcy at a time when massive human rights violations, illegal and arbitrary arrests, political persecutions, restrictions and even suppression of free media and human rights defenders continue to escalate”.
Stating that G20 should uphold international human rights obligations, he noted that “the situation in Jammu and Kashmir should be decried and condemned, not pushed under the rug and ignored with the holding of this meeting”.
Responding to the statement, India’s permanent mission to the UN in Geneva rejected the “baseless and unwarranted allegations”. “As G20 president, it’s India’s prerogative to host its meeting in any part of the country,” tweeted the Indian mission.
We are aghast that @fernanddev has acted irresponsibly to politicize this issue, misused his position as SR to publicize on social media his presumptive and prejudiced conclusions in a gross violation of the Code of Conduct for SRs. (2/2)@UNHumanRights @volker_turk @MEAIndia
— India at UN, Geneva (@IndiaUNGeneva) May 16, 2023
It also said it was “aghast” that the UN special rapporteur had “acted irresponsibly to politicize this issue, misused his position as SR to publicize on social media his presumptive and prejudiced conclusions in a gross violation of the Code of Conduct for SRs”.
Till now, Pakistan is the only country to have objected publicly to the G20 meeting being held in Srinagar due to its disputed status. While China has not said anything publicly, it is not clear whether it will send a delegation, since the Chinese position on Kashmir is aligned with Pakistan’s.
India held another meeting of the G20 in another state which is entirely claimed by China, Arunachal Pradesh. While Chinese representation was absent there, the meeting was of such low profile within the G20 hierarchy that it did not appear on the official events calendar on the G20 website. In contrast, the meeting in Srinagar is definitely a much more important event.