UN rights chief concerned about police inaction during Delhi ‘attacks against Muslims’


United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet in her address to the Human Rights Council’s 43rd session expressed concern over the deadly violence that began in the Indian capital on February 23, highlighting in particular reports of police inaction in the face of attacks on Muslims, The Wire reported on Thursday.

“I am concerned by reports of police inaction in the face of attacks against Muslims by other groups, as well as previous reports of excessive use of force by police against peaceful protesters,” she said in her address.

Last year at the 42nd session of the council in Geneva, Bachelet had expressed she was “deeply concerned” after India initiated its clampdown in occupied Kashmir.

India’s move to annex Jammu & Kashmir through revocation of the region’s special status and imposition of a communications and travel lockdown was also strongly criticised by independent UN experts who termed the moves as “collective punishment” for the entire population. On Thursday, Bachelet began mention of India in her address by referring to the prolonged detention of political leaders in occupied Kashmir, according to The Wire.

She also went on to talk about the contentious Citizenship Act that has polarised Indian society and has been attributed to the communal violence ensuing in New Delhi.“In India more broadly, the Citizenship Amendment Act adopted last December is of great concern. Indians in huge numbers, and from all communities, have expressed – in a mostly peaceful manner – their opposition to the Act, and support for the country’s long tradition of secularism,” she was quoted as saying by The Wire. “This has now widened into broader inter-communal attacks, with 34 people killed since Sunday 23 February. I appeal to all political leaders to prevent violence.”

UN chief wants India to invoke ‘spirit of Gandhi’ to end violence

Meanwhile UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday urged Indian leaders to invoke the “spirit of Gandhi” to bring about an end to the violence in New Delhi and to pave the way for communal harmony.According to latest figures, at least 38 people have been killed in communal clashes in New Delhi, as mobs attacked mosques, residences and businesses after demonstrations against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act turned violent.

“Throughout his life, the secretary-general has been deeply inspired by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and today the spirit of Gandhi is needed –more than ever and it is essential — to create conditions for true community reconciliation,” Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in response to a question at UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday.He said the UN chief had been following the situation and was “saddened by the reports of death that we have seen over the past few days in New Delhi.”

The Secretary General “again reiterates, as he has done in other places, his calls for maximum restraint and violence to be avoided,” Dujarric added.

India says OIC statement on New Delhi violence ‘misleading’

India’s Ministry of External Affairs has taken grave exception to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for its statement on the Delhi communal violence.The OIC had condemned the recent and “alarming” violence against Muslims in India in a tweet.According to The Wire, the ministry said that the comments are “factually inaccurate and misleading”.

Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar urged “bodies like the OIC” not to make “irresponsible statements” at this “sensitive time”.“The statements which have come out of OIC are factually inaccurate, they are selective, they are misleading. There is an effort on the ground, to restore normalcy, to create confidence,” Kumar was quoted as saying.

“We urge these bodies not to indulge in irresponsible statements at this sensitive time,” he said.


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