UNITED NATIONS/WASHINGTON - The United Nations human rights chief has appealed to India and Pakistan to grant his office access to Jammu and Kashmir, amid "grave concerns" over alleged rights violations.

In Washington, a State Department spokesman said the US would encourage greater dialogue and counterterrorism cooperation between India and Pakistan which is good for both countries.

In Geneva, Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR), issued a statement on Wednesday, saying he has been working to get independent observers to the parts of the disputed Kashmir region since the eruption of anti-Indian protests in July.

The high commissioner, who has sought access for a team to visit both Indian-occupied Kashmir Jammu and Kashmir and Azad Kashmir to independently and thoroughly look into allegations of human rights violations, regretted that his requests have not been granted.

More than 70 Kashmiri civilians have been killed and thousands more injured in Indian-occupied Kashmir in clashes with security forces after the killing of a prominent Kashmiri youth leader, Burhan Wani, in a military operation on July 8.

"Since the latest outbreak of violence in early July, High Commissioner Zeid has been engaging with both Indian and Pakistani authorities and has sought access for a team to visit both Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Kashmir to independently and thoroughly look into and verify allegations of violations of international law to be able to establish the facts accurately, particularly given the conflicting and competing claims on both sides," Zeid said.

“I deeply regret that our requests for access have not been granted. Given the seriousness of the allegations of the use of excessive force, allegations of state sponsorship of violence, as well as the number of people killed and the very large number of people injured, the continuing unrest and the almost daily reports of violence in the region, it is unfortunate that our sincere attempts to independently assess the facts in relation to reports of human rights violations have failed,” the high commissioner said.

“We requested full and unhindered access to the affected population, to interview a variety of individuals on the ground, including victims, witnesses, security forces, and with access to relevant documentation.

Such access would enable us to provide an independent and fact-based analysis of the situation, which is so crucial in volatile, politically-charged situations.”

“Without access, we can only fear the worst,” Zeid added. “I reiterate our request for access.”

Meanwhile, the United States reiterated its call for a dialogue between India and Pakistan. “We would encourage greater dialogue and counterterrorism cooperation between both Pakistan and India. We’ve said that many times,” State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner told reporters in Washington on Tuesday.

“It’s for the good of both countries; it’s for the good of the region. Frankly, it’s for the benefit of the US,” he said in response to a question and asked Pakistan to act firmly against terrorism. “It’s important that Pakistan do the utmost to prevent terrorists from carrying out acts of terror not just in Pakistan, but elsewhere in the region. So it’s important that there’s greater collaboration, greater dialogue,” Toner said. “We would encourage any effort in that regard,” he said.

Reuters adds: Amnesty International India has temporarily closed its offices and postponed events aimed at raising awareness of rights abuses over safety concerns for its staff after the charity was accused of sedition by protesters, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Political activists held demonstrations against the rights group on Tuesday and Wednesday, accusing it of inciting hatred against the state during an event it hosted on abuses by Indian security forces in the troubled Kashmir region.

Police said they were investigating if "anti-India" slogans were raised at the event after receiving a complaint from the right-wing student organisation, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, which has ties to the ruling Bharitya Janata Party.

Amnesty said the allegations against the organisation were unsubstantiated, but admitted that slogans calling for Kashmir's independence were chanted by some people attending Saturday's seminar in the southern city of Bengaluru.

"The allegations mentioned in the complaint are without any basis. The event was an open-door event and people were coming and going. No staff members were involved," said Himanshi Matta, Amnesty International India's spokeswoman in India.

"They are preventing the families of victims of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir from having their stories heard. And preventing civil society organisations from enabling these families to exercise their constitutional right to justice."

Following protests by hundreds of right-wing activists in Bengaluru on Tuesday and in Delhi on Wednesday, Matta said the charity had decided to temporarily close its main office in the city, as well smaller ones in Pune, New Delhi and Chennai.

The seminar - aimed at raising awareness over the lack of justice for families of victims in Kashmir - was planned to take place in Mumbai and New Delhi next week, but has been postponed due to security concerns for the families and staff, she added.

Rights groups have for years accused Indian forces battling in Kashmir and parts of northeast India of violating civilian rights through a controversial law which gives them sweeping powers to search, arrest or shoot people.

Authorities and the armed forces deny the charges, saying the law - the Armed Forces Special Powers Act - is essential to root out militants.