By K Raveendran
One may or may not agree with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights about its assessment of the situation in Kashmir. But no proud Indian can back its attempt to cast aspersions on the integrity of our Supreme Court.
“We are extremely concerned that the population In Kashmir continues to be deprived of a wide range of human rights and we urge the Indian authorities to unlock the situation and fully restore the rights that are currently being denied,” Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has been quoted in media reports as saying.
As a human rights body, the commission may be justified in making those observations, although it contradicts the government’s claim on the situation in the valley. But the spokesperson then went on to suggest that the Supreme Court was probably taking sides and not doing enough to recommend the required correctives.
The spokesperson then went on to highlight the manner in which the Supreme Court has been delaying adjudication on the petitions raising issues of violation of fundamental rights.
“The Supreme Court of India has been slow to deal with petitions concerning habeas corpus, freedom of movement and media restrictions. The Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission, the State Information Commission (which implements the right-to-information laws) and the State Commission for Protection of Women and Child Rights are among key institutions being wound up, with the new bodies to replace them yet to be established,” the statement issued by the commission said.
This is a clear case of doubting the approach of the Supreme Court and questioning its impartiality. It fails to recognize the circumstances under which some of these petitions were not taken up for hearing straightaway. The court had, in fact, cited preoccupation with the Ayodhya case hearing that it was committed to conclude as per a deadline for its inability to consider the Kashmir pleas immediately.
“We do not have the time to hear so many matters. We have Constitution bench case (Ayodhya dispute) to hear,” Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had declared while referring a bunch of petitions against the security steps in Kashmir to a separate bench hearing the pleas against the Modi government’s action in scrapping Article 370 and other related matters.
The developments that followed the release of the statement by the UN body raise much curiosity. It may be possible to link the controversial invitation to the European Union parliamentarians to visit Kashmir and the findings of the UN human rights body. If anyone suspects the visit as a pre-emptive move, such a conjecture cannot be faulted as the invitation and the trip itself remain shrouded in mysteries.
As per new details emerging about the so-called broker, it is not clear whether the move originated in the Prime Minister’s Office or whether it was an independent initiative of an NGO, which has been active off and on, and Madi Sharma, a journalist who admittedly combines several roles, some of which are as diverse as participatory democracy and recruitment.
The website of the self-proclaimed think-tank working for the economic uplift of women and named ‘Women’s Economic and Social Think Tank’ (WESTT) makes so many claims, which are not easily verifiable.
WESTT describes itself is a global organisation working countries at all levels of development and growth. “To bridge the gap between the Developed and the Developing Countries, WESTT must ensure cross fertilisation of expertise and methodologies that work to deliver sustainability. A common purpose, working in partnership, promoting urban and rural sustainability around the World will bring equity, abundance, peace and security,” says the website.
The website further describes Madi Sharma as “International Business Broker, Education Entrepreneur; Speaker” and the leader of the Madi group, the focus of which is ‘international private and social enterprises and NGOs, and includes WESTT.
Irrespective of who initiated the ‘brokering’, the EU parliamentary delegation’s visit has produced an outcome that may not have been envisaged originally. It has created more adverse publicity over Kashmir than goodwill and confidence. The trip has been dogged by more controversies as some of the proposed members I backed out at the last minute in protest against ‘controlled access’ has left a bad taste in the mouth.
Whether it was a command performance undertaken on behalf of the government or an innocuous campaign to bring equity, abundance, peace and security, as avowed by WESTT, the whole exercise remains a riddle, the solution of which is complicated by the abundance of conflicting clues. (IPA Service)