Friday Sep 13, 2019
WASHINGTON: A group of US senators have urged President Donald Trump to help ease the on-going clampdown in occupied Kashmir by the Indian armed forces.
Senators Chris Van Hollen, Ben Cardin, Lindsey Graham and Todd Young in a letter addressed to President Trump on Thursday pressed him to immediately act to stop the humanitarian crisis in the valley.
Expressing their concern regarding the situation in occupied Kashmir, the lawmakers pressed Trump to ask Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lift the lockdown and curfew and release the hundreds of innocent Kashmiris detained under the controversial Public Safety Act.
The Indian government unilaterally revoked the decades-old special status of the Muslim majority Himalayan region on August 5 by repealing article 370. India had sent tens of thousands of additional troops to the disputed territory, imposed curfews on its residents, and severed communications, including access to the internet and telephones.
“We write to express our concern regarding the situation in Kashmir, which has grave implications for democracy, human rights and regional stability. While we support your [Trump] goal of working with the parties to help find a long-term resolution to the status of Kashmir, we write now to urge you to immediately facilitate an end to the current humanitarian crisis there,” the letters read.
It added, “With each passing day, the situation for the people of Kashmir becomes increasingly difficult. Therefore, we ask that you [Trump] call upon Prime Minister Modi to fully restore telecommunications and internet services, lift the lockdown and curfew, and release Kashmiris detained pursuant to India’s revocation of Article 370."
According to media reports, at least 4,000 people have subsequently been held in occupied Kashmir under the Public Safety Act — a controversial law that allows authorities to imprison someone for up to two years without charge or trial — including local politicians, activists, academics and students.
In the context of US president’s mediation offer to resolve the Kashmir issue, the senators wrote, “The United States has a vital role to play in facilitating a resolution to this humanitarian crisis, and we urge you [Trump] to act swiftly.”
“Once the urgent humanitarian situation has been addressed, we hope the United States can play a constructive role in helping resolve the underlying disputes between the two nuclear powers, India and Pakistan.”