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#UN hopes progress will be made in the negotiations with India on humanitarian access to #Kashmir

NEW YORK: With the humanitarian condition in Indian occupied Kashmir rapidly declining, the United Nations said it hoped that its human rights authorities would be able to “go forward” talks with India on entry to the contested state presently under lockdown, said UN spokesman Eri Kaneko.

“We know our human rights peers are in contact with the Indian government at multiple concentrations,” said Kaneko while meeting journalists at the office of the United Nations. “So, we’d wish to proceed these connections to allow entry.

The spokesperson’s remarks came after being asked whether efforts were underway to pressure India to agree to the request made by UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet to allow a “humanitarian team” to visit the valley.

“We hope that, in light of the current situation, these negotiations can move forward to allow for access,” Kaneko added.

Since August 5, occupied Kashmir has been under strict military-enforced curfew with phone and other communication services shutoff as well as the movement of people.

“Kashmir is silent as a graveyard,” this is how Vrinda Grover, a human rights lawyer, described the situation to The New York Times on Thursday.

Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Al Hussein had called for an international probe into the serious human rights situation in occupied Kashmir and for his office’s access to both sides of the Line of Control, a proposal which was endorsed by Bachelet, his successor.

India have refused to allow UN officials access to occupied Kashmir, saying it was an internal matter for the country.

On Thursday, a group of UN human rights experts urged the Indian government “to end the crackdown on freedom of expression, access to information and peaceful protests imposed” on Kashmir.

The five experts “expressed concern that the measures, imposed after the Indian Parliament revoked the Constitutionally-mandated status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, would exacerbate tensions in the region”, the OHCHR said.

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