Expressing their concerns over the current situation in Kashmir, two US lawmakers have urged US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to convince India to immediately end the communication blockade and release the individuals detained by the security forces.
In a letter to Secretary Pompeo dated September 11, 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.
Tagging the letter in a tweet, Ms Jayapal said: “I continue to be deeply concerned about credible reports of a humanitarian crisis in Jammu & Kashmir. Even in complex situations, we look to strong democratic allies like India to uphold basic human rights and due process.”
I continue to be deeply concerned about credible reports of a humanitarian crisis in Jammu & Kashmir. Even in complex situations, we look to strong democratic allies like India to uphold basic human rights and due process.
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) September 11, 2019
The two lawmakers told Secretary Pompeo that they have significant concerns about the “crisis” in Kashmir. “In particular, we are concerned about credible reports from journalists and advocates on the ground that the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse,” they said.
Restrictions were imposed by the government when New Delhi abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution of India and bifurcated it into Union territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. The local politicians including former chief ministers, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, have also been kept under house arrest.
“We also urged the Indian Government at its highest levels to make it clear that religious tolerance, long a principle of Indian history and democracy must be upheld,” the two lawmakers wrote in the letter.
The members of House of Representatives have said that “the UN experts have already spoken out forcefully to condemn India’s actions and potential abuse of Human Rights in Kashmir. ” They have asked Pompeo to urge the US delegation at the United Nations Human Rights Council session to “push for immediate action on these issues.”
The Indian delegation denied the reports of human rights violation at the 42nd session of UNHRC in Geneva on September 10. The government of India has repeatedly denied reports of International media and human rights organisation and has justified detention of political leaders and many civilians as a ‘preventative measure’ while also claiming that everything is ‘normal’ in Kashmir since it revoked its special status.