Four American senators, two Republicans and two Democrats, on Wednesday penned a strong-worded letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as they expressed concern over the security and internet restrictions in place in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5.
“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,” reads the letter, signed by senators Chris Van Hollen (Democrat), Ted Young (Republican), Richard Durbin (Democrat) and Lindsey Graham (Republican).
“India has now imposed the longest-ever internet shutdown 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,” says the letter.
The senators have further demanded an assessment of the overall situation in Jammu and Kashmir, including a review of those detained by the authorities and restrictions on religious freedom and internet among others, in their communication. The bipartisan letter has set a deadline of 30 days for the assessments to be carried out.
The crucial letter to Pompeo comes less than two weeks ahead of President Donald Trump’s maiden visit to India. Trump, along with the US First Lady Melania Trump, will be on a two-day state visit to the country over February 24 and 25, during which he is scheduled to travel to New Delhi and Ahmedabad.
President @realDonaldTrump & @FLOTUS will travel to India from February 24-25 to visit Prime Minister @narendramodi!— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 10, 2020
The trip will further strengthen the U.S.-India strategic partnership & highlight the strong & enduring bonds between the American & Indian people. 🇺🇸 🇮🇳
India’s decision to abrogate Article 370 has repeatedly been brought up by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on various international fora. Trump’s offer to mediate the Kashmir issue, at the prodding of Pakistan, has found no takers in New Delhi. India’s Ministry of External Affairs has consistently maintained that it will brook no interference in the matter, which is entirely “internal" to the country.