US Senators Express ‘Concern’ Over Kashmir & Anti-CAA Protests
PM Narendra Modi with US President Donald Trump. 
PM Narendra Modi with US President Donald Trump. (Photo: AP)

US Senators Express ‘Concern’ Over Kashmir & Anti-CAA Protests

US President Donald Trump will be visiting India later this month, but ahead of his visit four US senators wrote to US secretary of state Mike Pompeo expressing concerns regarding the internet ban in Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370, and the preventive detention of political leaders under PSA. The senators also expressed concern over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act that has triggered nationwide protests.

What Does the Letter Say?

The letter by the senators, including Lindsey Graham (Republican) Todd Young (Republican) , Chris Van Hollen (Democrat) and Dick Durbin (Democrat), states that the Indian government “continues to block internet in the Valley, which has now turned into the longest ever internet shutdown by a democratic country, disrupting access to medical care, business, and education for seven million people."

Also Read : ‘Appalling Conditions’: Kashmir Journalists on Reporting in J&K

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“Hundreds of Kashmiris remain in ‘preventive detention’ including key political figures,” the letter to Mike Pompeo states. The senators said “these actions have severe consequences”.

President Trump and Melania Trump will arrive for a two-day India visit on 24 February, and will be visiting both New Delhi and Ahmedabad.

The letter also mentions that the Citizenship Amendment Act would give religious minorities – except Muslims – from India's neighbouring countries, namely Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, Indian citizenship in five years as opposed to the 11-year requirement.

“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,” the letter by the senators states.

The senators have requested Mike Pompeo for an assessment on:

  • The number of political figures detained by the Indian government due to abrogation of Article 370 and and whether they were subjected to “torture or other forms of mistreatment”.
  • Indian government’s restriction on communication services in Kashmir, which includes access the internet and cellular telephone services.
  • Restrictions on access for foreign diplomats, journalists and observers in Kashmir.
  • Restrictions on religious freedom in Kashmir.
  • The number of individuals at the risk of statelessness, denial of nationality pursuant to an NRC (National Register of Citizens).
  • Any “excessive use of force by Indian authorities” against people protesting that law.

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This letter by senators comes at a time a second batch of foreign envoys, which includes EU members, are visiting Jammu and Kashmir as a measure by the government to display steps taken to restore normalcy in the newly created union territory.

The US administration has earlier expressed its concerns over the anti-CAA protests and the political situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

(With inputs from NDTV and Axios)

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