Expressing his concern over the continuing communication blackout in Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday said Kashmir is an integral part of India and the whole country stands united over the issue, but the “communication blackout” in the state for was not a good sign in democracy. Gehlot added that India earned global respect because its governments have always tried to strengthen the democracy.

“Narendra Modi could become prime minister because the roots of democracy were strengthened by previous governments. Their role in taking the country to the place where it is today should also be acknowledged,” he said at an event in Jaipur.

At the event, Gehlot also said that Hindi language should be promoted and more books on science and technology should be published in Hindi. “Hindi played important role in keeping the nation united during freedom struggle and Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and others encouraged promotion of the language,” Gehlot said. The chief minister also said his government will leave no stone unturned in promoting Hindi and will organise a literature festival to encourage authors and writers in the state.

Gehlot’s statement on Kashmir comes after two US lawmakers wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to end the strict lockdown in the state.

Pramila Jayapal, the first and the only Indian-American Congresswoman in the House of Representatives, and Congressman James P McGovern said the international media and independent human rights observers must immediately be allowed into Jammu and Kashmir.

“We urge you to work across the Administration to press the Indian Government to immediately end its communications blackout of Kashmir, expedite the process of reviewing and releasing individuals ‘preventatively’ detained, ensure hospitals have access to life-saving medicines and protect the rights of the Kashmiri people to freedom of assembly and worship,” the letter states.

The government of India revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 after abrogating Article 370 following which there has been a strict lockdown in the state. Many local political leaders including former chief ministers, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti are also under house arrests.