UK To Debate ‘Violation Of Rights’ In Jammu & Kashmir

LONDON – In what could embarrass advocates of closer ties between India and Britain, the House of Commons looks set to debate alleged human rights violation in India administered Kashmir. According to Steve Baker, a Conservative MP who along with four other MPs secured the debate, this will be the first “general debate” on human rights in Kashmir since Partition.

India has conveyed to Britain that the debate “will not be helpful” . It has also been stressed that “India is the world’s largest functioning democracy” . There was no comment from the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office other than, “Parliament is entitled to debate.”

Baker possibly faces pressure from roughly 6,000 Pakistanis in his constituency to take up Kashmir’s cause in the House. Other MPs who helped Baker secure the debate , too, are from constituencies with numerically strong Pakistani voters: Jason McCartney (Conservative), Andrew Griffiths (Conservative ), Denis MacShane ( Labour party) and Nic Dakin (Labour). Pressure from such voters influence British lawmakers and Baker told TOI, “I don’t wish to be excessively partisan but it is time to genuinely give a voice to Kashmiris in the British Parliament.”

The purpose of the debate, Baker said, is to force Whitehall to take up the matter of human rights violation with South Block. Baker also requested a vote on the debate but the House of Commons Backbench Business Committee rejected it.

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