Two lawmakers, one Indian-American, call for end to communication blockade in Kashmir

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Two Democratic lawmakers are urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to call for an end to the communications blockade in Kashmir.

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington. (Photo: jayapal.house.gov profile photo)

Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, and Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Massachusetts, recently sent a letter to Pompeo calling on him to “press” upon the Indian Government, the need to withdraw the clampdown on communications in the Kashmir Valley.

The Sept. 10, 2019 letter, which is posted on Jayapal’s Twitter account, says “We write to raise significant concerns about the ongoing humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir. In particular, we are concerned about credible reports from journalists and advocates on the ground that the Indian goernment has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”

The letter goes on to say, “As the world’s largest democracy, India shares a unique and important relationship with the United States. While we have deep regard for that relationship, it is incumbent upon us to speak out when our shared democratic principles are being undermined. Regardless of the complexity of any situation, we firmly believe that democratic principles of due process and human rights must apply,” adding, “For this reason, we urge you to press the Indian government to immediately lift the communications blackout and adhere to international human rights standards in Jammu & Kashmir.”

The lawmakers also addressed what they saw as a rise in alleged religious-based discrimination and violence in India.

“… we are concerned about the surge in attacks against religious minorities throughout India,” the lawmakers said, adding that they had raised these concerns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi when they were part of a delegation to India in early 2017.

The two lawmakers said they “appreciate” the communications they received from representatives of the Indian government refuting these reports. “However, the most credible way to refute these reports would be for the Indian government to allow independent media and international human rights observers access to the region in order to properly investigate them,” they said.

 

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