Two United Nations human rights experts have expressed concern over India’s revocation of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK)’s autonomous status.
In a statement released on Thursday, Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues, and Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, raised concern that the people of Kashmir have lost their right to govern their land or protect their minorities.
“The loss of autonomy and the imposition of direct rule by the Government in New Delhi suggests the people of Jammu and Kashmir no longer have their own government and have lost power to legislate or amend laws in the region to ensure the protection of their rights as minorities,” the experts said.
“The number of successful applicants for domicile certificates that appear to be from outside Jammu and Kashmir raises concerns that demographic change on a linguistic, religious, and ethnic basis is already underway,” they added. “These legislative changes may have the potential to pave the way for people from outside the former state of Jammu and Kashmir to settle in the region, alter the demographics of the region and undermine the minorities’ ability to exercise effectively their human rights.”
They urged the Government of India to ensure that the economic, social, and cultural rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir are protected, and that they are able to express their political opinions and participate meaningfully in matters affecting them.
On August 5, 2019, India unilaterally revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status through the nullification of Articles 370 and 35 A of the Indian Constitution. In May 2020, it passed the Domicile Rules, which remove protections for those residing in the territory and allow non-residents to own land in the region.