Saturday Oct 26, 2019
Six members of the United States Congress on Thursday wrote a letter to Harsh Vardhan Shringla, the Indian Ambassador to the United States, on the alarming human rights situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir.
In the letter, the members of Congress asked the Indian diplomat a series of specific questions on the military curfew in occupied Kashmir. The questions were a follow-up to a congressional briefing on Kashmir.
The US Congress had earlier this month held a hearing on the months-long military curfew imposed in the occupied valley by New Delhi. Shringla had briefed Congress members on October 16.
In the correspondence, the congresspersons raised concerns about the scrapping of Article 370 on the Indian constitution by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that had ended the autonomy of occupied Kashmir.
They also expressed reservations over the continued communications lock down in the occupied valley, asking the Indian diplomat as to when the internet, telephone and other services would be restored.
The members wanted Shringla to be be honest about the number of arrests made in occupied Kashmir since the curfew was imposed, and also asked how many of those detained were children or minors.
The Indian diplomat was also asked to outline the plan New Delhi had in mind about eventually lifting the inhumane curfew, that is nearing three months now. Indian officials have repeatedly said the curfew would be lifted.
The ban on the entry of foreign journalists was questioned by the US Congress members, who wanted Delhi to explain whether independent journalists or US politicians would be allowed to visit the valley in the near future.
The use of rubber pellets to blind innocent people, including children, was questioned too. The letter stated that India must provide accurate figures about the number of people injured or blinded by rubber bullets.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had revoked the constitutional autonomy of occupied Kashmir on August 5 this year and imposed a military curfew in the area, imprisoning millions of people.
Thousands of political leaders, businessmen, rights activists and other ordinary citizens were detained after the move. The detained included former chief ministers and the mayor of Srinagar.
Widespread allegations of torture and abuse of these detainees by the Indian security forces were published by the international media in the following weeks. These reports still continue to pour in, as the curfew nears three months.