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Kashmir: Human Rights

Volume 687: debated on Tuesday 19 January 2021

What assessment he has made of the effect of the death of Kashmiri citizens Abrar Ahmad Khan, Imtiyaz Ahmad and Abrar Ahmad Yousuf on human rights in that region. (910986)

We are aware of reports that an Indian soldier has been charged after the deaths of three Kashmiri men. We welcome assurances from the Indian Government that their army is committed to ethical conduct, and that disciplinary action will be undertaken in accordance with Indian law where necessary. Where we have concerns about human rights in Kashmir we will continue to raise them with the India and Pakistani Governments.

Three young Kashmiris working as labourers were abducted and brutally murdered by an army counter-insurgency officer. Illegal weapons were strapped to their bodies and they were wrongly branded hardcore terrorists. I know the Minister shares my concern that horrific abuses in Kashmir are not new or uncommon, but as our country continues to chart a new course internationally, can he tell us what the Government are actually doing to protect human rights in Kashmir and why the Secretary of State, sat next to him, lacks the courage to speak out against injustices around the world?

The hon. Lady, I know, is very passionate about this area and speaks on behalf of many of her constituents who have an interest in Kashmir. I can assure her that the Foreign Secretary has spoken directly with his counterpart as recently as December on this issue. India and Pakistan are long-standing important friends of the UK. We encourage both to engage in dialogue and find lasting diplomatic solutions to maintain stability in the region. It is not for the UK to prescribe a solution or act as a mediator; it is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political resolution on Kashmir.

A Kashmiri man showed me footage of his home in Kashmir on fire, purportedly after being shelled by India. I have provided to the Government some evidence that cluster munitions were used by India against another village in Kashmir. These things really matter to my constituents. After the pandemic, people in Wycombe could easily be in their homes in Kashmir. Is it not time to take seriously a UN report on the human rights situation on both sides of the line of control, to have a co-ordinated international effort to put UN human rights inspectors on both sides of the line of control and then to move forward with a new human rights framework for the UK, which can reassure diaspora communities such as mine in Wycombe that the UK is standing up for their human rights when they are in the countries from which their families and their ancestors hail?

My hon. Friend is 100% correct to raise this matter again. He is a constant champion for his constituents on this area. We do recognise that there are human rights concerns in both India-administered Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Again, we encourage all states to ensure that domestic laws are in line with international standards and to co-operate with UN human rights officials and all mechanisms of the Human Rights Council. We have requested permission for officials from the British high commission in New Delhi to visit India-administered Kashmir as soon as the situation permits.