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US Lawmakers demand India to ensure transparency in Kashmir

US Congressmen and Senators are joining the scores of opinion makers raising a voice for the Kashmiri people, and demanding the Modi administration to ensure transparency and political participation, and bring an end to the unprecedented communications blackout and curfew in the Indian-occupied valley.

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US Congressmen and lawmakers are now raising their voices for the Kashmiris living under a brutal crackdown and prolonged curfew since 5th August, when New Delhi forcefully annexed the occupied Himalayan territory as a federally-administered territory.

Congressman Adam Smith, amongst others, has now joined the scores of lawmakers across the world, demanding the Modi administration to put an end to the curfew and allow Kashmiris their right to freedom of speech.

Congressman Adam Smith, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, on Tuesday, called India’s ambassador to the US, and informed him that he is closely monitoring the deteriorating situation in occupied Kashmir after India’s decision to abolish the special constitutional status of occupied Kashmir.

US Lawmakers Voice Concerns

Speaking to Indian ambassador to the US, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Congressman Adam Smith said, “I am continuing to monitor the situation regarding the government of India’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. There are legitimate concerns about the ongoing communications blackouts, increased militarization of the region, and enforcement of curfews.”

Adam Smith, a Democrat from the state of Washington, stated that some of his constituents hailed from Indian-occupied Kashmir, and had visited the region after 5th August.

Smith said, “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.”

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke of New York also voiced her concerns over the heightened discrimination and human rights violations in Indian-occupied Kashmir. 

The US Congressman continued, “They saw a region under siege with its residents isolated, without an ability to communicate at all outside of the region. The Indian government must take steps to reduce these fears and offer greater transparency for the world to see what is happening there.”

Congressman Smith demanded the Indian Ambassador to the US to ensure transparency, and secure the basic human rights of the Muslim population and other minority religious groups.

He said, “A commitment to the protection of basic human rights and equal rights, as well as 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.”

Criticizing the Modi administration’s policy towards occupied Jammu & Kashmir, Adam Smith encouraged Pakistan and India to engage in dialogue to prevent escalations, and resolve the conflict in a peaceful manner.

Read more: Trump reiterates offer to mediate over Kashmir issue

Adam Smith said, “This policy decision exacerbates an already tense environment in the region. I encourage both India and Pakistan to keep lines of communication open to prevent the further deterioration of the situation, and exercise restraint instead of engaging in rhetoric and actions that inspire extremist ideology.”

Transparency & Political Participation 

Earlier this month, US Senator Bob Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued a joint-statement to condemn the unlawful actions of India in occupied Kashmir, demanding transparency and political participation for the Kashmiris.

The statement reads, “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.”

It continued, “Transparency and political participation are the cornerstones of representative democracies, and we hope the Indian government will abide by these principles in Jammu and Kashmir. And at the same time Pakistan must refrain from any retaliatory aggression—including support for infiltrations across the Line of Control—and take demonstrable action against the terrorist infrastructure on Pakistan’s soil.”

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke of New York also voiced her concerns over the heightened discrimination and human rights violations in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

Read more: UN Security Council and Kashmir – What does the future hold?

She said, “Prime Minister 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.”

Yvette Clarke said that upon her return to Washington in September, she will address the issue “front and center” for the US Congress, and the US lawmakers are going to “deal with it forthright.” The US Congresswoman said, “Prime Minister Modi should know better. We all must raise our voices.”

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