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US Senators Ask Pompeo To Assess Kashmir Situation & Minority Rights in India

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Yesterday, four U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen, Todd Young, Dick Durbin, and Lindsey Graham sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking for a review of the human rights situation in Kashmir and the rights of religious minorities in India.

The letter points to the “troubling actions taken by the current government.” The Senators have alerted the Pompeo that “more than six months after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government unilaterally revoked the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir, the government continues to block most internet in the region. India has now imposed the longest-ever internet shut down by a democracy, disrupting access to medical care, business, and education for seven million people. Hundreds of Kashmiris remain in ‘preventive detention,’ including key political figures.”

The senators further noted, that “the Indian government has taken other troubling steps that threaten the rights of certain religious minorities and the secular character of the state. This includes the passage of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, which is being challenged in India’s Supreme Court.”

The senators have asked for an assessment of the following by the State Department:

(1)    the number of individuals detained by the Indian Government for political purposes due to India’s revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution with respect to Jammu and Kashmir, including an assessment, to the extent practicable, of whether detainees endure torture or other forms of mistreatment;

(2)    the Government of India’s restrictions on communications in Jammu and Kashmir, including access to the internet and cellular telephone services;

(3)    the level of access to Jammu and Kashmir the Indian government grants to independent observers, foreign diplomats and consular agents, foreign journalists, international organizations, and representatives of nongovernmental organizations;

(4)    restrictions on religious freedom in Jammu and Kashmir; and,

(5)    the number of individuals – including the number of religious, ethnic and other minorities — at risk of statelessness, arbitrary deprivation or denial of nationality, expulsion or arbitrary detention pursuant to the Government of India’s latest National Register of Citizens list, and any excessive use of force by Indian authorities against demonstrators opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act. 

The full text of the letter can be found here.

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