Wednesday Dec 11, 2019
Brad Sherman of the United States House of Representatives on Wednesday announced that members of the US House Subcommittee on Asia will be briefed on the prevailing situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir by top US state department officials on December 12.
In a message shared on Twitter, Sherman, a Democrat serving the San Fernando area of California, said that top intelligence officials will also be part of the classified briefing that is open to other members of the House, should they wish to attend.
"As Chair of the House Asia Subcommittee, I arranged a classified briefing. Tomorrow, top State Department and Intel officials will brief members of the Subcommittee and other interested members on Kashmir," Representative Sherman wrote in his post.
According to Sherman, the classified briefing has been arranged on his request as the chair of the US House Subcommittee on Asia. It is not the first time that the subcommittee will be discussing the alarming human rights situation and military occupation of the Kashmir valley.
Back in October, US Assistant Secretary Alice Wells, who oversees all US state department policy towards South Asia, testified at a hearing that reviewed the situation in occupied Kashmir following the Indian decision to scrap the constitutional autonomy of the area in August.
Fearing strong backlash over the illegal annexation of occupied Kashmir, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had imposed a communications blackout and military curfew in the valley. Thousands of ordinary citizens, including former chief ministers, were arbitrarily detained.
In her testimony, Wells had told the subcommittee that she had relayed the strong concerns of the US regarding Kashmir to India and told Delhi that Washington was closely monitoring the situation. She also testified that she had asked India to lift the military siege imposed on the valley.
Representative Sherman has been a key figure in the amplification of the Kashmir issue on the global stage. Besides initiating hearings into the occupied Kashmir situation, he has also asked the US government to pressure India into allowing diplomats to visit the occupied valley.
In a letter to Assistant Secretary Alice Wells last month, Sherman urged her to expedite efforts for sending US diplomats to occupied Kashmir. “I am concerned about Kashmir because there is a lack of reliable information coming from the region,” he wrote.
The people of occupied Kashmir, meanwhile, continue to suffer due to the military lock down of the area, which has been in place for more than four months now. The move has triggered fear among locals that it could be a prelude to evicting thousands of Muslim residents from their homes.
While scrapping the constitutional autonomy of occupied Kashmir, Indian PM Modi had also struck down a provision that barred outsiders from procuring land in the only Muslim majority-state of the Hindu-majority country. Modi co-related the move with prosperity and development.