MIRPUR (AJK) - The All Parties Parliamentary Kashmir Group (APPKG) in the British Parliament Tuesday reached Azad Jammu Kashmir on an official visit to assess and discuss the current human rights situation in the Indian-held Jammu & Kashmir with the AJK leadership.

During a meeting with the visiting British delegation in AJK’s capital town on Tuesday, AJK President Sardar Masood Khan conveyed his deepest gratitude to the All-Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group (APPKG), in the UK Parliament, which under the dynamic leadership of Honourable Chris Leslie, British Member of Parliament, has been raising its voice for the protection of human rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and their right to self-determination.

Masood Khan received the nine-member British Parliamentary delegation comprising Members of Parliament Chris Leslie, Imran Hussain, Lord Qurban Hussain and Faisal Rasheed, as well as Member of European Parliament Ms Anthea McIntyre.

The president apprised the British delegation that life in occupied Kashmir has been paralysed due to Indian atrocities and the popular reaction to human rights violations by occupied forces in the territory. Last week India used deadly force to kill six young men in one of its notorious cordon and search operations in Kulgam.

The entrapped people of Kashmir, the AJK president said, had sought intervention of the international organisations and international community to protect life, honour and dignity of the Kashmiri people and their leadership. “They need to be protected from the unbridled wrath of Indian forces, paramilitary troops and intelligence agencies”, said President Khan. “The paradise on earth is a paradise on fire”, he regretted.

The AJK president also drew attention of the UK Parliamentarians on the recently published report of the Office of the High commissioner for Human Rights which is a strong indictment against India for committing massive human rights violations. These includes, Lack of access to justice and impunity, impeding access to justice by military courts and tribunals, illegal administrative detention, killings, use of pellet-firing shotguns, arbitrary arrests and detention (including of children), torture, enforced disappearances, restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and on journalists, using rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war.

While talking to the British delegation, President Masood Khan welcomed the statement of the newly-appointed Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, for emphasising the need for following up on her predecessor’s report on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir, with meaningful improvements, or even open discussions on how the grave issues raised could be addressed by India.

Masood Khan rejected Indian allegations of cross-LoC infiltration. He said that India had installed a high-tech surveillance system along the LoC which has laser activated fences and technology enabled barriers, that had made any kind of crossings impossible. In any case, the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan strongly believe in a diplomatic and political solution to the Kashmir dispute and had urged India to stop using state-terrorism to suppress the Kashmiris’ peaceful movement for the realisation of their right to self-determination.

President Masood Khan thanked MP Chris Leslie and his team for organizing various testimonies under the auspices of the APPKG on the human rights violations being perpetrated by the Indian forces in the occupied territory. The President said that he gave his testimony to the APPKG on 28 February 2018.

The President especially appreciated the report’s sharp focus on the draconian laws - Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the Public Safety Act (PSA) - as well as enforced disappearances in the occupied territory.

These black laws, the President said, arm occupation forces to kill, use excessive force and detain persons with impunity and without the fear of prosecution. “These laws must be repealed”, he said.

MP Chris Leslie during the interaction thanked the President for inviting him to AJK and informing him on the recent developments in Indian Occupied Kashmir. He said that this visit would help the APKKG in better understanding the issue of Kashmir and would contribute in gathering facts for the report being compiled. He hoped that India would also reciprocate to their requests for visiting IOK.