US senators urge Trump to act on IOK crisis

Ask Modi to end clampdown in occupied valley, lawmakers to US president

News Desk September 12, 2019
US President Donald Trump and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PHOTO: REUTERS

A bipartisan group of US senators has pressed President Donald Trump to urge Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to end the on-going clampdown in occupied Kashmir (IOK).

Senators Chris Van Hollen, Todd Young, Ben Cardin, and Lindsey Graham wrote to Trump on Thursday pressing him to immediately intervene to help end the “humanitarian crisis” in the occupied valley.

“With each passing day, the situation for the people of Kashmir becomes increasingly difficult. Therefore, we ask that you [Trump] call upon Prime Minister Modi to fully restore telecommunications and internet services, lift the lockdown and curfew, and release Kashmiris detained pursuant to India’s revocation of Article 370,” wrote the senators in the letter.

On August 5, the Indian government unilaterally revoked the decades-old special status of the Himalayan region and deployed tens of thousands of additional troops to the occupied valley, imposed curfews on its residents, and severed communications to the region, including access to the internet and telephones.

This information blackout has severely limited access to medical services, prevented families from contacting each other, and disrupted the local economy.

Press reports indicate that at least 4,000 people have subsequently been detained in IOK and held under the Public Safety Act – a controversial law that allows authorities to imprison someone for up to two years without charge or trial – including local politicians, activists, academics and students.

“We write to express our concern regarding the situation in Kashmir, which has grave implications for democracy, human rights and regional stability. While we support your [Trump] goal of working with the parties to help find a long-term resolution to the status of Kashmir, we write now to urge you to immediately facilitate an end to the current humanitarian crisis there,” said the senators.

They also added that in the context of Trump's mediation offer to resolve the Kashmir dispute, US engagement with India will be critical in providing relief for Kashmiris.

"The United States has a vital role to play in facilitating a resolution to this humanitarian crisis, and we urge you [Trump] to act swiftly," they added.

"Once the urgent humanitarian situation has been addressed, we hope the United States can play a constructive role in helping resolve the underlying disputes between the two nuclear powers, India and Pakistan."


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