US Congresswoman condemns India’s communication lockdown in IOK

By news desk – September 10, 2019

The condemnation of Narendra Modi-led government’s information and communication lockdown in occupied Kashmir continues with US Representative for California Judy Chu highlighting the restrictions on Tuesday.

Chu, who is the first Chinese-American to make it to US Congress, took to Twitter to urge India to lift curbs on communication in the occupied valley and “provide the citizens of [occupied] Jammu and Kashmir with the same rights as other citizens of India”.

“It’s been over a month since mobile phones and internet access were cut off in [occupied] Kashmir,” she wrote. “And one month in, many political leaders are still being held in preventive detention.”

The occupied Himalayan region enters its second month of clampdown after New Delhi revokes its special status by abolishing Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The move has received opposition from Kashmiris, Pakistan, rights organisations and the international community.

Earlier today, US President Donald Trump reiterated his offer to mediate between Islamabad and New Delhi.

“India and Pakistan are having a conflict over Kashmir as you know. I think it’s a little bit less heated right now than it was two weeks and I’m willing to help them,” Trump told a reporter. “I get along with both countries very well. I’m willing to help them if they want, they know that is out there.”

Last week, US Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders expressed concern over the deteriorating conditions in occupied Kashmir and termed India’s actions “unacceptable”.

The veteran senator said the US government must ensure the implementation of international laws and should press for a peaceful resolution through the United Nations (UN).

“India’s action [in Kashmir] is unacceptable. The communications blockade must be lifted immediately, and the US government must speak out boldly in support of international humanitarian law and in support of a UN-backed peaceful resolution,” said Sanders, who is one of the leading Democratic presidential candidates.

US lawmaker Adam Smith highlighted “legitimate concerns regarding the communication blackouts, increased militarisation and enforcement of curfews” in occupied Kashmir.

“The constituents I met with all had family in Kashmir or Jammu. Some have visited the region since the change in Indian policy. They were afraid for their own lives, and terrified for the safety of their family members who remain in the region,” he said adding that they saw a region under siege with its residents isolated, without an ability to communicate at all outside of the region.

Forbes reported a joint statement, by US Senator Robert Menendez, Ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and US Representative Eliot L Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wherein they condemned India’s Kashmir policy.

“As the world’s largest democracy, India has an opportunity to demonstrate for all its citizens the importance of protecting and promoting equal rights including freedom of assembly, access to information and equal protections under the law,” said the statement

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