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UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has backed Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein's call for an international investigation into human rights situation in Kashmir saying that it represents the "voice of the UN". He also defended at a news conference on Thursday his own report on children in armed conflict that referred to situations in Jammu and Kashmir, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

He denied India's assertions that his report overstepped his mandate and that Zeid's had no mandate and said that they were both covered by the "the general mandate of human rights instruments". Asked at his news conference if he supported Zeid's call for the independent international investigation, Guterres said: "As you can imagine all the action of the Human Rights High Commissioner is an action that represents the voice of the UN in relation to that issue."

Answering a question about the reports running counter to India's long-standing assertion that Kashmir is a part of India and any problem between the neighbours was a bilateral issue among India and Pakistan, Guterres said there was a distinction between political matters and human rights. He said: "One thing is the definition of mechanisms for a political solution of a situation in a country and the other thing is the general mandate of human rights instruments in relation to human rights everywhere."

"What the Human Rights Commissioner did was the use of its own competencies and capacities as it does in all other parts of the world to report on what he considers to be relevant human rights violations," Guterres explained. "It does not mean that there is in that a preference for any kind of methodology for a political solution," he added.  Pertinently, Zeid, whose term gets over at the end of 2018, asked the Human Rights Council to set up a Commission of Inquiry into the human rights situation in Kashmir. Rejecting Zeid's report, India's External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said it was "overtly prejudiced and seeks to build a false narrative". 

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  • JKNPP protests outside Parliament seeking Dissolution of Assembly 

NEW DELHI: Concerned over the reports of horse trading besides other unethical practices in govt formation in the state, a battalion a NPP activists led by Mr. Harsh Dev Singh Chairman JKNPP, Mr. Balwant Singh Mankotia State President JKNPP and Mr. Yash Paul Kundal State President Young Panthers held a massive protest demonstration near Parliament House in New Delhi today seeking immediate dissolution of J&K Assembly. The enraged protestors shouting slogans against the central govt and BJP took out a protest march from NDMC Chowk, Sansad Marg towards parliament but were stopped by the parliament street police station by putting barricades on the road and restrained from proceeding further. The agitated NPP workers amid thundering slogans invited the attention of president of India towards wrongful prolongation of suspended Assembly and the resultant reports of horse trading and sought immediate dissolution of J&K House.

Referring to the political impasse created in the state in the wake of suspension of Assembly pursuant to breakdown of BJP-PDP govt, Mr. Harsh Dev Singh expressed concern over the reported attempts of various political parties wooing the rival legislators in a bid to form govt by hook or crook. There were reports of floor crossing amidst allurements and enticements held out to legislators of other parties, he said. The panic stricken political parties were trying hard to keep their flock together and to rescue their members from falling prey to the enchantments and charms of the opponents, said Singh.

Accusing the BJP in particular of trying to engineer defections in other parties through support of central agencies, Mr. Harsh Dev Singh said that such bizarre machinations  did not auger well for the state and could result in further alienation. And while BJP was trying to break other parties, some of its own members were in touch with congress as per authentic sources, he said. These opportunist MLAs included those who had jettisoned congress on the eve of previous elections to bask in the reflected glory of Narendra Modi at the said time but had now realized that BJP was a sinking ship and were desperate to abandon it, divulged Mr. Singh.

Mr. Balwant Singh Mankotia, while maintaining that suspension of Assembly was supposed to be a transitory period under the constitution in which the Governor has to decide its fate, said that its prolongation was violative of law besides prevalent practices and precedents. If no political party or combination of parties was in a position to form the govt, the only option was to dissolve the Assembly so as to prevent defections, horse trading and unfair means in the formation of the govt, said Mankotia. He said that with almost all political parties except BJP having conveyed their unwillingness to form govt and the reports of defections and unethical practices doing rounds each day, the dissolution of Assembly was inevitable and required immediate attention of the Governor and president of India.

Mr. Yash Paul Kundal said that with BJP known for its manipulative skills and Machiavellian strategies of forming govts through unethical means, the political parties in state had become jittery and rather panicky which was not good for a sensitive state like J&K. He appealed for the indulgence of the President of India so that all speculations were set at rest and the dissolution of suspended assembly ensured at the earliest. Prominent among those who spoke on the occasion included Rajesh Padgotra, Romesh Khajuria, Mohinder Singh, Arun Khajuria, Vishav Singh, Anil Rakwal, Raman Dogra, Surjit Singh, Dildar H.Beig besides others.

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SRINAGAR: A 5 member delegation led by Sh. Manjinder Singh Sirsa, MLA Delhi Legislative Assembly, met Governor N.N. Vohra at the Raj Bhavan today. The delegation apprised Governor about the hardships being faced by the Sikh community in J&K, particularly by the migrated Sikh families from Pak Occupied J&K (POJK). They demanded grant of minority status to the Sikhs; implementation of “Anand Marriage Act” for marriage registration of Sikhs;  relief package for Sikhs displaced from POJK and  those affected due to militancy in the Valley; reservation for displaced Sikhs families in Govt. jobs, school and college admissions; employment packages for the Sikhs; updating registration list of displaced Sikh families; reservation of seats in Legislative Assembly; provision of housing colonies for DPs; renaming Sikh Displaced Persons as ‘Sikh Migrants’ and one time settlement of DPs as per compensation package calculated on the guidelines of Joint Parliamentary Committee of Home Affairs’ Report No. 183. The delegation also expressed grave concern over the attempted forceful conversion of a Sikh girl studying in IUST, Awantipora. Governor assured the delegation that the issues raised by them would receive due consideration.