WASHINGTON – Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal has introduced a Congressional resolution on Kashmir urging India to end as swiftly as possible restrictions on communications and preserve religious freedom for all residents.
Resolution 745 was jointly moved on Friday by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat, and Congressman Steve Watkins, a Republican. Born in Madras (Chennai), Ms Jayapal is the first Indian-American woman to serve in the US House of Representatives. She is also a prominent human rights activist. Mr Watkins is a veteran of the Afghan war and conducted combat along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.Ahead of the introduction of the resolution, Indian-Americans from across the US urged her in various settings against it.
As the world’s largest democracy, India shares a unique and important relationship with the United States. I’m proud to have lived my own life in the world’s two greatest democracies—as a citizen of India for 35 years, and now as a proud American citizen and member of Congress.
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) December 8, 2019
Her office is believed to have received more than 25,000 emails from Indian-Americans in addition to in-person meetings by several representations of Indian-Americans.
Indian-Americans held peaceful demonstrations outside her office against her move to table the resolution on Kashmir.
The resolution urges India to lift the remaining restrictions on communication and to restore internet access across all of Jammu and Kashmir as swiftly as possible.
While it recognises the dire security challenges faced by India in Jammu and Kashmir and the continuing threat of state-supported cross-border terrorism, the resolution urges India to refrain from the use of threats and excessive force against detained people and peaceful protesters.
It requests India to “swiftly release arbitrarily detained people” and “refrain from conditioning” the release of detained people on their willingness to sign bonds prohibiting any political activities and speeches.
The resolution claims that there is photographic evidence indicating that detained people have been required to sign surety bonds forbidding them from making statements or participating in political activities as a condition of their release.
New Delhi has been urged to allow international human rights observers and journalists to access the valley and operate freely throughout India, without threats; and condemn, at the highest levels, all religiously motivated violence, including violence targeting religious minorities.
The resolution reminds India that international human rights law holds that all people have the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including freedom to practice, worship, or observe one’s own religion.
India has denied these allegations. India maintains that the abrogation of Article 370 was its internal matter. It asserts that the government’s move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir will bring ever-lasting peace in the region.