US Group Demands Modi to Lift Kashmir Lockdown; Restore Normalcy

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An Indian paramilitary soldier patrols during security lockdown in Srinagar, India. — AP

Caravan News

THE Center for Pluralism of Washington DC took the initiative to approach Government of India to restore normalcy in Kashmir, solicited support from the NGOs in asking the Modi Government to restore freedom to the people of Kashmir, lift the curfew and open up Kashmir to the social media, the traditional media and the commissioners of the USCIRF to report the facts.

The state of Kashmir is under lockout ever since the government abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated the state into Union Territories as a precaution to ward off any outburst of violent protest against the move.

In a letter to be circulated among the NGOs, the Centre requested Ambassador Brownback and Secretary of State Pompeo to discuss with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the risk he has taken in jeopardizing American security Interests and the security of American investments in India.

The International Religious Freedom Roundtable is a voluntary organisation concerned with violations of religious freedom around the world, and the Hon Ambassador presides over the meetings. He is the Ambassador at large for religious freedom around the world.

A strong case for the freedom of Kashmir was presented at the IRF Round Table on September 3, 2019, by the executive director of the Center for Pluralism in Washington, DC., Mike Ghouse.

The presentation is as follows:

Mr. Modi, the Prime Minister of India on a whim, revoked the article 370 of the Indian Constitution, that accorded the special status to the state of Kashmir.

Upon Independence from the British, the Nation of India was partitioned into two countries; India and Pakistan.

Today, two prominent Kashmiri Women will speak at the meeting via phone. Dr. Nyla Ali Khan, Professor in Oklahoma, author of several books on Kashmir and women issues, and is the granddaughter of the first Prime Minister of Kashmir. The other person is Mrs. Daisy Khan, a prominent Kashmiri woman who produced the book WISE UP, and has done a lot of work on uplifting women and peace building.

The special status to Kashmir. As a part of the partition, the independent states within the British territory of India were given a choice to join the Indian Union or Pakistan or remain sovereign states.

Pakistan attacked Kashmir and claimed it to be a part of Pakistan as a majority of the Kashmiri people were Muslims, and that was the basis of Partition of India into India and Pakistan. Kashmiri people sought protection from India as they wanted to be free people. The matter went to the United Nations, and resolutions were passed, giving Kashmir a special status. India, on its part, included in its constitution in Article 370 giving special status to Kashmir. The Maharaja of Kashmir gave India control on defense, communications, and foreign affairs and kept all the other powers with the state of Kashmir, an independent state with its own Government and the constitution.

India’s intent in giving a special status was to adhere to the democratic values and to honor the will of the people of Kashmir and promised to hold a plebiscite (referendum) giving a choice to the people of Kashmir to remain a sovereign state, accede to India or even accede to Pakistan. India was at a peak in following the rules of fairness and just.

Neither India nor Pakistan fulfilled their obligations holding a plebiscite, it was their duty to hold the referendum in the last 72 years. Pakistan still occupies a third of Kashmir, but on August 5, 2019, India acceded Kashmir overnight without the consent of the People or approval from the state Government of Kashmir. A sovereign state was downgraded into two Union Territories (Like Guam in case of the United States) to be administered by the Indian Government’s military rule. For every 10 Kashmiris, India has deployed one military person, and the abuses have piled up.

Since August 5, 2019, there is a complete shutdown of communications, no phone lines, no cell phone, no Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other social media. Even traditional media is banned. However, the BBC News and a few Indian media have dared to go in and report what they could.

In this darkness, reports and videos are coming – 10,000 people detained, women abducted, children snatched from their mother’s arms. The torture of the youth protestors and shooting pellets into their eyes and blinding thousands is unprecedented. The video clips are out, and we are gathering a few essential videos for presentation at the IRF Round Table and USCIRF commissioners.

We request the Government of India to restore freedom to the people of Kashmir, lift the curfew, and let the media report the facts that were kept hidden from the public for a month and allow the commissioners of USCIRF to visit and report the facts.

Let the consent of the governed be the hallmark of a democratic, Pluralistic India, which is in peril by the current Government.

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