UN chief to reach India today; plans visit to Golden Temple

  • Deputy spokesperson calls Antonio Guterres’ trip to Sikh pilgrimage site in Amritsar ‘essentially a personal one’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will travel to India today (Monday) and will land in New Delhi during his first trip to the South Asian country as head of the world body, the Press Trust of India news service reported.

“His visit coincides with the beginning of events to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2 next year,” said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for the UN secretary-general. Today, Guterres will formally open the new UN House in New Delhi and on October 2, he will participate in the closing session of the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention.

During the visit, he will meet President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday (Oct 3). He will also meet Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan before giving a lecture at the India Habitat Centre on Global Affairs on the ‘global challenges, global solutions.’

The secretary-general will also take part in the General Assembly of the International Solar Alliance. In the afternoon of October 3, he will visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar and will return to New York on October 4. Guterres had visited India in July 2016, just months ahead of the election for the secretary-general.

On Guterres’ trip to the Golden Temple, the deputy spokesperson said that the visit was essentially a personal one as the UN chief wanted to see the holy Sikh pilgrimage site. When asked if the UN chief will be asked questions about the 1984 Sikh riots, he said that it was a bit premature to mention the topics he will bring up.

The anti-Sikh riots, also known as the 1984 Sikh Massacre, was a series of organised pogroms against Sikhs in India by anti-Sikh mobs in response to the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Independent sources estimate the number of deaths at about 8,000, including at least 3,000 in Delhi.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi

Representing Pakistan at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly in New York, Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi pointed out that the unresolved Kashmir issue poses a great threat to peace and stability in the South Asian region. He said that India must stop human rights violations in the disputed Kashmiri state and also stop ceasefire violations across the Line of Control.

Briefing the world about direct Indian involvement in sponsoring terrorist activities inside Pakistan, he said that India has been sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan and Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav was involved in planning and sponsoring terrorist activities in Pakistan on behalf of the Indian government. He said that Jadhav has provided Pakistani authorities with the most incriminating evidence and that he was but one Indian state-sponsored terrorist among many.

“It is India that in plain sight operates state terrorism in Jammu Kashmir,” he said, adding that it was a matter of great concern that humanity was being crushed and human rights are being violated all across India. He also said that peace in the South Asian region directly relies on a justified settlement of the Kashmir issue in the light of UN Security Council resolutions and the will of the Kashmiri people.