RAF misusing our tag: UN; ‘UNMOGIP Monitoring Kashmir Situation’

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Srinagar: The United Nations has made it clear that India’s Rapid Action Force (RAF), deployed in Srinagar recently, cannot use the ‘UN’ tag on its helmets and shields as it was against the world body’s guidelines.The development comes after a US policy group—Policy and Communications for United Progressives (PCUP)—took up the matter with a United Nations representative following press reports that the RAF was “misusing” UN gear in Kashmir.In a letter to Nick Brinkback, Chief, Public Affairs Section, Department of Peacekeeping Operations United Nations, the Director PCUP, Paul Barrow writes: “It’s my understanding that you may oversee matters pertaining to international human rights issues, and I would like to know if you have been informed of the problems in Kashmir, the nature of the uprising there, the level of violence, the casualties, and the grave nature of humanitarian conditions after weeks of curfews and a complete shutdown of normal services to the community from health to water to electricity.   I’ve been informed by sources that there does not seem to be an observable UN presence for UN-OCHA.  Paradoxically, there is an observable presence of UN helmets being worn by the CRPF’s Rapid Action Forces currently being deployed in Kashmir.   Widespread belief is that the UN endorses India’s behaviour and allows this image of UN participation to prevail as an internationally acceptable level of the use of force against unarmed civilians.  Can you advise us on the position taken by the UN on all these matters?”In response to PCUP communiqué, the United Nations has indicated that the Peacekeeping office, which directly oversees operations such as the unit in Kashmir, is completely clueless about the Indian paramilitary forces’ use of these helmets and shields. “Following the use of UN-marked blue helmets by Indian Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel in Srinagar, the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) immediately brought the issue to the attention of the Indian authorities. We understand that directions have since been issued by the Indian authorities to prevent the continued use of UN helmets and shields by the Rapid Action Force,” writes Michel Bonnardeaux, Public Affairs Officer United Nations in his response to the Director PCUP.He adds: “UN blue helmets and other UN equipment are provided to personnel serving in United Nations operations for the sole purpose of use during service under the blue flag. All UN equipment provided for use in a UN operation ought to be returned to the Organization upon completion of service and under no circumstances, can it be used for other purposes, including by national armies in the conduct of their operations. In accordance with Security Council resolution 307 (1971), UNMOGIP is deployed to the region to monitor the cease-fire along the Line of Control, investigate alleged violations, and report to the Secretary-General on violations and relevant developments in its area of operations.”The letter and its response have been published by the Director PCUP on its websitewww.unitedprogressives.orgon August 10.Pertinently, Greater Kashmir had on August 7 filed a report that whether the RAF was misusing UN tag. The Srinagar-based CRPF spokesman had categorically denied there was misuse of the tag. “The cops carrying helmets and shields with UN written on them are the ones who have retuned from the UN peace keeping missions in different parts of the world. These helmets and shields belong to CRPF and are given to RAF men when they go on any UN peace-keeping mission outside the country,” the spokesman had said. (GKNN)

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