A “distorted narrative” is being put out by some over the decision of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to cancel a meeting with senior US lawmakers in Washington DC, government officials have said.
Jaishankar had abruptly cancelled a meeting with senior members of Congress this week after US lawmakers refused demands to exclude congresswoman Pramila Jayapal who has criticized the Indian government’s policies in Kashmir.
The decision has been called India’s “unwillingness to listen to criticism” over the Kashmir issue as Prime Minister Narendra Modi “defends moving in troops, imposing curfews and cutting off mobile phones and Internet access in India’s only majority-Muslim state”.
In her tweet Rep Jayapal had said, “The cancellation of this meeting was deeply disturbing.”
Speaking on the criticism, officials, quoted by ANI said, “No Foreign Minister of any independent country should be pressurised into meeting politicians with their own agendas”.
“A distorted narrative is being put out by some about EAM’s meeting with the US Congress. The External Affairs Minister asked to meet the leadership of the Senate and House Foreign Affairs Committee. The Senate meeting took place as envisaged with a very open conversation. Some members of the HFAC also met the minister and discussed issues. But the HFAC invited others without even seeking consent. This is at the heart of the issue,” the officials clarified.
“Rep. Jayapal is not a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and her positions on India are well known. A meeting was not sought with her. Therefore, it was not India which put conditions for the meeting with the HFAC leadership, but the HFAC that insisted on unilaterally bringing a non-member,” officials added.
Defending his decision Jaishankar had earlier said, “I am aware of that (Congressional) resolution. I don’t think it’s a fair understanding of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir or a fair characterisation of what the government of India is doing. And I have no interest in meeting (Jayapal)”.
Jayapal has criticised the Act saying the citizenship law “adds a whole level of complexity to India as a secular democracy – one of the great prides of the country.”
Earlier this month, Jayapal introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives urging India to lift all restrictions on communications in Jammu and Kashmir.
Tensions in Kashmir, over which India and Pakistan have fought for decades, spiked after the Centre revoked a special status granting autonomy to the region.
Jaishankar’s trip to Washington comes amid protests across India over the Citizenship Amendment Act, that prevents undocumented Muslims from neighbouring countries from seeking Indian citizenship.