NEW DELHI: The US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has called for an end to what it has described as a “humanitarian crisis" and lift restrictions including the curbs on communication in Kashmir in its report ahead of the annual Foreign Appropriations Act for 2020, a report in the Hindu newspaper said Saturday.
The call was an addition to its report to the Senate by Lindsey Graham, senior Senator and key Republican leader known to be close to President Donald Trump.
It was proposed by Senator Chris Van Hollen, who visited New Delhi this week as a part of a Congressional delegation that India-US bilateral ties, trade relations and defence cooperation besides the Kashmir situation with key officials.
The US senator’s call could come as a shot in the arm for Pakistan which has been trying to internationalize the Kashmir dispute as well as what it says is the “plight" of Kashmiris since India revoked a temporary provision of its constitution in August.
There was no immediate comment from the Indian foreign ministry either on the Hindu report or on the Van Hollen visit.
India had on 5-6 August scrapped a temporary provision of its constitution granting special status to Kashmir and integrated more closely with the rest of the country. This move was aimed at ensuring that laws made for the rest of India were applicable in Kashmir, Indian officials have said, adding that it would also help bring in investment, development and create for jobs for youth in the region that would lure them away from joining the ranks of terrorist groups.
According to the report submitted to Graham, the committee on Appropriations “notes with concern the current humanitarian crisis in Kashmir and calls on the Government of India to: fully restore telecommunications and Internet services; lift its lockdown and curfew; and release individuals detained pursuant to the Government's revocation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution," the Hindu report said.
“This amendment, which was accepted unanimously by the bipartisan committee, is a strong expression of concern by the Senate about the situation in Kashmir and sends the signal that we are closely monitoring the human rights situation there, and would like to see the Government of India take those concerns seriously," Van Hollen was quoted as saying by the Hindu. He said had wanted to share his concerns with Modi but was not able to.
The report was submitted on 26 September during prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US and days after Modi and president Trump jointly addressed an Indian American and Indian a community gathering christened “Howdy Modi" on 22 September. Modi and Trump also held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York two days after on 24 September.
On Friday, Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar in comments during a session at the India Economic Summit in Delhi, said many key decision-makers in the US had been “misinformed by their media" and that he had spent considerable time in the past few weeks to clear the air on the government’s decision to drop the temporary Article 370. Jaishankar has visited think-tanks and meeting US policy makers in New York and Washington in a bid to apprise them of India’s point of view on why it scrapped article 370.