UN Human Rights chief strongly condemns Pulwama terror attack

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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on India and Pakistan to take ‘immediate steps’ to de-escalate tension, says his offices are always available should both sides ask

The top United Nations human rights official has strongly condemned last week’s suicide bomb attack against Indian security forces in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir, calling on authorities to bring those responsible to justice.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Michelle Bachelet is also saddened by the further loss of life from subsequent gun battles in the same area, the spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Rupert Colville said in Geneva on Tuesday.

“The High Commissioner strongly condemns the suicide bomb attack against Indian security forces in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir on 14 February and calls on authorities to bring those responsible to justice,” Mr. Colville said.

A suicide bomber from the Jaish-e-Mohammed group drove his explosives-laden vehicle into a CRPF bus last week, killing 40 jawans and critically wounding others.

In a major encounter in Pulwama’s Pinglan area on Monday, two Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists, including a Pakistani commander of the group being investigated for his role in the February 14 attack, and an Army major were among the seven people killed.

The UN Human Rights chief expressed hope that escalating tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours “will not add further to the insecurity in the region”.

In the wake of the Pulwama terror attack, Mr. Colville said the High Commissioner is also “concerned” by reports from India that “some elements” are using the attack as “justification for threats and potential acts of violence” targeting Kashmiri people living in different parts of India.

In New Delhi, India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday directed officials to ensure protection of innocent Kashmiris living in different parts of the country.

“We acknowledge actions taken by the Indian authorities to tackle these incidents and we hope that the Government will continue to take steps to protect people from all forms of harm that may be directed at them on account of their ethnicity or identity,” Mr. Colville said.

Guterres calls for steps to de-escalate tension

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on India and Pakistan to take “immediate steps” to de-escalate tension.

“The Secretary General stresses the importance for both sides to exercise maximum restraint and take immediate steps to de-escalation, and his good offices are always available should both sides ask,” the UN Chief’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters here on Tuesday at the daily press briefing.

Mr. Dujarric was asked about a meeting Pakistan’s Permanent Mission to the UN has sought with the Secretary General and also about Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi saying the UN must step in to defuse tensions between the two nations.

“…Looking at the situation in general between India and Pakistan, we’re deeply concerned at the increase in tensions between the two countries in the wake of the attack on Indian security personnel on 14 February in Pulwama,” Mr. Dujrraic said.

He said Pakistan’s mission at the UN requested for the meeting with the Secretary General.

“We have seen press reports of a letter having been delivered to the UN. As far as we’ve ascertained, none has been received as of this very minute,” he added.

Last week, Mr. Guterres had “strongly” condemned the terror attack, calling for those behind the attack to be brought to justice.

“We strongly condemn today’s attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district and express our deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and to the government and people of India,” Mr. Dujarric had said at the daily press briefing last Thursday.

Responding to a question by PTI on the terror attack, Mr. Dujarric said, “We of course wish a speedy recovery to those injured and call for those behind the attack to be brought to justice.”

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