As the communications blockade and curfew imposed in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) enters its second month, members of the US Congress on Saturday hit out at New Delhi for its “unacceptable restrictions.”
The letter addressed to US ambassador in India and Charge d’ Affaires, US Embassy in Islamabad deemed the Indian government’s strong-arm tactics as “a deeply ominous sign that is both incompatible with both democratic and human rights.”
Penned by Ilhan Omar, Raul Grijalva, Andy Levin, James McGovern, Ted Lieu and Alan Lowenthal, the letter calls for the centrality of Kashmiri voices in determining the future of the Himalayan valley.
The lawmakers stated that New Delhi’s actions contravened freedom of expression, assembly and movement.
The elected representatives took note of complaints by Kashmiri-Americans of being unable to contact their loved ones inside IOK.
“The reports we are receiving are harrowing with the allegations including forced disappearances, mass detentions, rape and sexual assault, and the targeted detention of political, economic and social leaders,” the communique read.
The US Congresspeople cited alerts issued by prominent international non-governmental organisations, saying that,”we are deeply concerned that Genocide Watch issued a genocide alert.”
The letter outlines that the International Alliance to End Genocide has identified seven genocide risk factors applying to the situation in the valley with their ten stages in are all far advanced.
The legislators also raised concern over the risk that the Kashmir situation could further fracture relations between nuclear-armed neighbours, Pakistan and India.
“This presents tremendous danger to global peace and a clear security risk for the US, Pakistan and India are both valued allies, crucial to our interests the region, including the Afghan peace process. It is of the utmost importance that we leverage our relationships with their governments to de-escalate the situation.”
They called for the Indian government to lift the communication blockade and allow press to access the area.
“We strongly urge India to release all those arbitrarily detained,” the letter stated, urging an impartial probe into human right violations in IOK.
Earlier, a group of US senators had pressed President Donald Trump to urge Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to end the humanitarian crisis in IOK.