US congresswoman calls for 'immediate restoration of communication' in occupied Kashmir

Published August 27, 2019
"International organisations should be allowed to fully document what is happening on the ground," says Ilhan Omar. — AFP/File
"International organisations should be allowed to fully document what is happening on the ground," says Ilhan Omar. — AFP/File

United States congresswoman Ilhan Omar on Tuesday called for "deescalation" and an "immediate restoration of communication" in occupied Kashmir, where a lockdown imposed by the Indian government has entered its fourth week.

In a tweet, that comes a day after a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took place in France, Omar said: "We should be calling for an immediate restoration of communication; respect for human rights, democratic norms, and religious freedom; and de-escalation in [occupied] Kashmir."

"International organisations should be allowed to fully document what is happening on the ground," she added.

President Trump, who has offered to mediate in working towards a solution on more than one occasion, held a meeting with Modi yesterday on the sidelines of a G7 summit in France, after which he said that India and Pakistan could handle their dispute over occupied Kashmir on their own, but he was there should they need him.

"We spoke last night about Kashmir, prime minister really feels he has it under control. They speak with Pakistan and I'm sure that they will be able to do something that will be very good," the US president had told reporters.

Last week, key lawmakers of US Congress urged New Delhi to end the occupation and allow its residents to speak.

Read: US lawmakers urge India to end occupation of Kashmir

Congressman Adam Smith, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, called India’s US ambassador and told him that he was “continuing to monitor the situation regarding the government of India’s decision to revoke the special status” of occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

“There are legitimate concerns about the ongoing communications blackouts, increased militarisation of the region, and enforcement of curfews,” he told the Indian envoy. Smith, a Democrat from Washington state, said some of his constituents were from occupied Jammu and Kashmir and had also visited the area after Aug 5.

“They saw a region under siege with its residents isolated, without an ability to communicate at all outside of the region,” he had said.

Smith reminded India that “recognition for the potential disparate impact of this decision on the region’s Muslim population and other minority groups — now and in the future – is imperative”.

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke of New York, had said she was “extremely concerned” and was raising her voice about what’s happening in Kashmir now.

“Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi has no right to do what he is doing to the people of Kashmir. And it is up to us to raise our voices for justice, to raise our voices for self-governance and for no discrimination based on religion,” she said. “Prime Minister Modi should know better. We all must raise our voices.”

The situation in occupied Kashmir has been tense since the Indian government repealed Article 370 of the constitution — stripping the region of its special status — earlier this month. The Indian government also imposed a strict lockdown and communications blackout in the region and has been trying to prevent media houses, both local and international, from reporting about the situation. Despite the restrictions, there have been reports of massive protests held in major cities of the occupied territory.

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