WASHINGTON: The voice of the Kashmir people, which has been under siege since August 5, when India merged their land with the union, now resonates in the United States Congress, where key lawmakers urge New Delhi to end to the occupation and allow its residents to speak.
Read: A reporter finds fear and chaos inside occupied and closed Kashmir
Congressman Adam Smith, chairman of the Armed Services Committee of the House of Representatives, called the Indian ambassador to the United States on Tuesday and told him that "he was still monitoring the situation regarding the decision of the Indian government to revoke the special status "of occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
"There are legitimate concerns about the continuous blackouts of communications, the increase in the militarization of the region and the application of curfews," he told the Indian envoy. Smith, a Washington state Democrat, said some of his constituents were from occupied Jammu and Kashmir and had also visited the area after August 5.
"They saw a region besieged with its isolated residents, without the ability to communicate at all outside the region," he said.
Smith reminded India that "it is imperative to recognize the potential disparate impact of this decision on the Muslim population of the region and other minority groups, now and in the future."
Congresswoman Yvette says Modi has no right to do what she is doing to Valley residents
Senator Bob Menéndez, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Congressman Eliot L. Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued a joint statement "in response to the steps India has taken to check the status of Jammu and Kashmir. "
The two legislators reminded New Delhi that "as the world's largest democracy, India has the opportunity to demonstrate to all its citizens the importance of protecting and promoting equal rights, including freedom of assembly, access to information and equal protection under the law. "
US lawmakers reminded the Indian government that "transparency and political participation" were "the pillars of representative democracies." And "we expect the Indian government to comply with these principles in Jammu and Kashmir," they added.
They also urged Pakistan to "refrain from any retaliatory aggression, including support for infiltrations through the Control Line, and to take demonstrable measures against terrorist infrastructure on the ground in Pakistan."
Congresswoman Yvette Clarke of New York said she was "extremely worried" and was raising her voice about what is happening in Kashmir now.
“Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi has no right to do what he is doing with the people of Kashmir. And it is up to us to raise our voices for justice, to raise our voices for self-government and for non-discrimination based on religion, ”he said. “Prime Minister Modi should know better. We must all raise our voices. "
She said that when she returns to Washington in September, "this will be a central issue for the United States Congress and we will address it directly."
Congressman Smith said that those of his constituents who visited Kashmir after August 5 told him that during their stay there they "feared for their own lives and feared for the safety of their families" who remain in the region.
"The Indian government must take measures to reduce these fears and offer greater transparency for the world to see what is happening there," he said.
Congressman Smith urged India to demonstrate "a commitment to the protection of basic human rights and equal rights," reminding policy makers in New Delhi that their "political decision exacerbates an already tense environment" in the region.
"I encourage India and Pakistan to keep the lines of communication open to avoid further deterioration of the situation, and to exercise restraint instead of participating in rhetoric and actions that inspire extremist ideology," he said.
the Forbes The magazine, commenting on these statements, noted that instead of showing indulgence, India had done the opposite.
"Treating cashmere is worse than anyone in India, including freedom of assembly, access to information and equal protection under the law," he wrote.
“India did not consult the Kashmir Assembly before taking autonomy from Kashmir. It gave no opportunity for cashmere to participate politically, ”added Forbes. "Not only did it unconstitutionally eliminate Kashmir's right to consult on legal measures, but it degraded Kashmir from one state to a federal territory."
Published on Dawn, August 22, 2019
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