US senators express concerns about Internet blockade in Kashmir, CAA
New Delhi, Feb 13: Ahead of President Donald Trump’s first visit to India, four American senators have written a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing concern about the Internet blockade in Kashmir and the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Trump along with wife Melania are scheduled to visit India on 23 and 24 February.
In their letter to Pompeo Wednesday, the four senators from Republican and Democratic parties — Chris Van Hollen, Todd Young, Richard J. Durbin and Lindsey O. Graham — said they were writing as “longtime friends of India” on the “troubling actions” taken by the NarendraModi government.
Talking about the communication clampdown in Kashmir, the four senators said it was the “longest ever internet shutdown by a democracy”, one that disrupted access to education, medical care and business to seven million people.
The letter also talks about preventive detention of “hundreds of Kashmiris”, including “key political figures”. The senators said the government’s actions are likely to have severe consequences.
They also asked for an assessment, within 30 days, of the number of people detained after the scrapping of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir and whether these detainees have endured “torture and other forms of mistreatment”.
The central government had recently booked former J&K chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA), hours before their preventive detentions were to end.
The letter further asks for an assessment of the level of access granted to independent observers, foreign diplomats and journalists in J&K, and the number of individuals who were at risk of “expulsion or arbitrary detention” under the National Register of Citizens.
Speaking about the CAA, the leaders said the new legislation threatens the rights of certain religious minorities and India’s secular character. They, therefore, want a check on whether India was using excessive force against anti-CAA protesters.