WASHINGTON: A bipartisan group of four US Senators have written a letter to US secretary of state Mike Pompeo requesting an assessment of the human rights situation in Kashmir and of the rights of religious minorities in India.
The letter, coming ten days before President Trump’s two-day state visit to India, is seen by some quarters as an effort to embarrass New Delhi, which is making strenuous efforts to show the situation in Kashmir is returning to normal by taking a second group of foreign envoys to the region this week.
Claiming to be “longtime friends of India,” the Senators wrote: “More than six months after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government unilaterally revoked the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir, the government continues to block most internet in the region. India has now imposed the longest-ever internet shut down by a democracy, disrupting access to medical care, business, and education for seven million people. Hundreds of Kashmiris remain in ‘preventive detention,’ including key political figures.”
“In addition, the Indian government has taken other troubling steps that threaten the rights of certain religious minorities and the secular character of the state. This includes the passage of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, which is being challenged in India’s Supreme Court,” they added, seeking a State Department assessment of a number of issues within India including: the number of individuals detained by the government for political purposes and the treatment of those individuals; current restrictions on communications in Jammu and Kashmir; the current accessibility of Jammu and Kashmir; and restrictions on religious freedoms in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Trump administration has been extremely circumspect about the Modi government’s actions with regards to Jammu and Kashmir and CAA/MRC issues, largely treating it as a domestic matter for New Delhi to sort out while expressing concern about human rights and civil liberties aspects.
Signatories to the letter are Republicans Lindsey Graham and Todd Young, and Democrats Chris Van Hollen and Dick Durbin.


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