Kashmir Restrictions Devastating, Says US House Committee Urging India to Lift Curbs

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Paramilitary soldiers stand guard on a deserted street during curfew in Srinagar on Aug. 8, 2019. — AP file

Caravan News

WASHINGTON — A powerful US Congressional Committee has urged India to lift the communication blackout in Kashmir, saying that it is having a “devastating impact” on the lives of the people in the state.

“India’s communication blackout in Kashmir is having a devastating impact on the lives and welfare of everyday Kashmiris. It’s time for India to lift these restrictions and afford Kashmiris the same rights and privileges as any other Indian citizen,” HFAC said via Twitter on Monday.

Restrictions were imposed when New Delhi on August 5 scrapped the special status of Jammu and Kashmir state under Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated it into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

The Asia-Pacific and Non-Proliferation Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has scheduled a hearing on Human Rights in Kashmir and other parts of South Asia on October 22, reports PTI.

The State Department’s top South and Central Asia diplomat, Alice Wells, will be among those testifying at an October 22 HFAC Asia Subcommittee hearing, expected to focus on human rights in Kashmir, according to a report The Hindu recently published.

The Subcommittee, headed by Brad Sherman, a California Democrat, will also discuss the rights of Muslims in Assam (where the National Register of Citizens, finalised at the end of August, excluded over 1.9 million people), Tamils in Sri Lanka and the human rights situation in Pakistan especially in the Sindh province.

The stand by the House committee comes nearly a month after Indian-American lawmaker Pramila Jayapal along with 13 other US Congressmen had urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address concerns over the human rights situation in Kashmir and lift the communications blackout.

(With media inputs)

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