‘Time for Kashmiris to have same rights as any other Indian citizen’: US urges India to lift Valley clampdown

Restrictions were imposed when New Delhi on August 5 scrapped the special status of Jammu and Kashmir state under Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated it into two Union Territories.

WASHINGTON: A powerful US Congressional Committee has urged India to lift the communication blackout in Kashmir, saying that it is impacting the lives of the people in the state.

“India’s communication blackout in Kashmir is having a devastating impact on the lives and welfare of everyday Kashmiris,” the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee said in a tweet on Monday.

“Its time for India to lift these restrictions and afford Kashmiris the same rights and privileges as any other Indian citizen,” it said.

Restrictions were imposed when New Delhi on August 5 scrapped the special status of Jammu and Kashmir state under Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated it into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Asserting that the abrogation of Article 370 to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was it’s “internal matter”, India has defended the imposition of restrictions in the Kashmir Valley on the grounds that they were put to prevent Pakistan from creating more mischief through proxies and terrorists.

The Asia-Pacific and Non-Proliferation Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has scheduled a hearing on Human Rights in Kashmir and other parts of South Asia on October 22.

The stand by the House committee comes nearly a month after Indian-American lawmaker Pramila Jayapal along with 13 other US Congressmen had urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address concerns over the human rights situation in Kashmir and lift the communications blackout.

However, on late Monday night, Governor Satya Pal Malik directed lifting an over two-month-old advisory which had asked tourists to leave the Valley due to “terror threat”.

The governor directed the withdrawal of the advisory with effect from October 10.

The advisory was issued on August 2, days before the issuance of the presidential order revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, negating the Article 370 of the Constitution.

Malik issued the directive for lifting the security advisory for tourists at a “situation-cum-security review’ meeting with the advisors and the chief secretary in Srinagar, an official spokesman said.

He said the governor was also informed that as Block Development Council (BDC) elections, scheduled to be held on October 24, are party-based, the delegations of parties having their leaders in jail are being allowed to meet party presidents once so that they can take a decision on elections and authorise someone to approve candidates.

“The governor directed that the Home Department’s advisory asking tourists to leave the valley be lifted immediately. This will be done with effect from October 10,” the spokesman said.

The state administration had on August 2 issued a security advisory asking Amarnath pilgrims and tourists to leave Kashmir as soon as possible, citing terror threat in the Valley.

The governor has been holding situation-cum-security review meetings daily for two hours generally from 6 to 8 pm since August 5.

Source: The New Indian Express

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