The US lawmakers during a Congressional hearing on human rights have once again expressed concerns about the grim situation in occupied Kashmir. Witnesses examined the situation in the occupied territory and recommended action by the Congress, similar to the last hearing held on October 22.
The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bi-partisan commission, held the hearing on Thursday to examine the human rights situation in Kashmir in its historical context, a statement issued at the Commission’s website said.
India had on August 5 revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir by repealing Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and announced its division into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. These two UTs came into existence on October 31. India had also put the occupied territory under severe military siege and communications blockade on August 5.
Indian-American Congresswoman, Pramila Jayapal, at the hearing said that she was deeply concerned by Indian government’s actions in Kashmir. “To detain people without charge, severely limit communications and block third parties from visiting, is harmful to our close and critical relationship,” the Democrat said.
She was joined by other Democrats Sheila Jackson Lee, David Trone and David Cicilline, who criticised India’s actions after scrapping Kashmir’s special sTom Lantos Human Rights Commission
Arunima Bhargava, commissioner from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), said that the rights of Muslim communities were being curtailed because of Indian government’s actions. “Throughout the country, political and community leaders are promulgating an ideology that suggests that to be Indian is necessarily to be Hindu and views India’s religious minorities as subordinate or foreign,” she told the hearing. “India’s religious minorities currently stand at a precipice.
Indian columnist and political commentator Sunanda Vashisht, tried to justify the Indian government’s decision to revoke the special status of occupied Kashmir by saying, “The Indian Constitution which is modelled on the US Constitution, is the most liberal document in the world. The Constitution was not applicable in totality until Article 370 was in force.” She also claimed that plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir is never going to happen.
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