Skip to main content

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”
Seeking Pompeo's intervention, Jayapal and McGovern, writing on "behalf of our constituents and those of many of our colleagues who have informed us that they are unable to contact their loved ones on the ground”, argue, “As the world's largest democracy, India shares a unique and important relationship with the United States,” one reason why “it is incumbent upon us to speak out when our shared democratic principles are being undermined.”
Both Democrats, while Jayapal, born in Chennai, immigrated to US in 1982 when she was 16, and has headed a pro-immigrants advocacy group, McGovern, an international human rights advocate, is known as one of the most liberals members of the Congress.
Pressing upon Pompeo to tell the Indian government "to immediately lift the communications blackout and adhere to international human rights standards in Jammu & Kashmir”, they give instances of how amidst communications blackout there are "increasingly disturbing reports of human rights abuses."

Text:

We write to raise significant concerns about the ongoing humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir. In particular. we are concerned about credible reports from journalists and advocates on the ground that the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.
We also write on behalf of our constituents and those of many of our colleagues who have Informed us that they are unable to contact their loved ones on the ground.
As the world's largest democracy, India shares a unique and important relationship with the United States. While we have deep regard for that relationship. it is incumbent upon us to speak out when our shared democratic principles are being undermined.
Regardless of the complexity of any situation, we firmly believe that democratic principles of due process and human rights must apply. For this reason, we urge you to press the Indian government to immediately lift the communications blackout and adhere to international human rights standards to Jammu & Kashmir.
The communications blackout persists even as increasingly disturbing reports of human rights abuses have emerged from a range of credible sources. Multiple reports indicate that over 3,000 people have been indefinitely detained by Indian authorities without any charges. some as young as 11 years old. Those jailed have included elected officials. lawyers, business executives, religious leaders and doctors.
McGovern
Reports also indicate that the Indian government has severely curtailed access to life-saving medical care for the Kashmiri people. The largest hospitals in the capital city of Srinagar and across Jammu & Kashmir have apparently run out of life-saving medication while people in dire need are restricted from traveling to doctors and pharmacies.
Further reports indicate that Indian authorities have arrested doctors for speaking out about these shortages. Moreover, international media outlets have documented multiple instances of medical examiners being pressured to withhold the causes of death for their patients in order to avoid blaming Indian authorities.
Alongside these reports, we are concerned about the surge in attacks against religious minorities throughout India. Both the signatories of this letter did raise similar concerns directly to Prime Minister Modi during a Congressional delegation to India in early 2017 and urged the Prime Minister to speak out against such religious extremism.
We urge you to work across the Administration to press the Indian government to immediately expedite the process of reviewing and releasing individuals "preventatively" detained
Unfortunately, these kinds of attacks have continued, with horrifying reports of lynchings by Hindu nationalists targeting Muslims, Christians and lower-caste Hindus. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has repeatedly condemned these attacks and criticized the Indian government for its "allowance and encouragement of mob violence against religious minorities?"
Most recently, we are disturbed to hear reports that Muslims in Kashmir have been prohibited from observing communal worship and celebrating their most significant religious holiday of the year.
We appreciate the communications we have received from representatives of the Indian government refuting some of these reports. However, the most credible way to refute these reports would be for the Indian government to allow independent media and international human rights observers access to the region in order to properly investigate them.
With the near-total blackout of communications in Jammu & Kashmir, independent verification has been impossible. Instead, there are continuing reports that both local and international journalists face serious restrictions including outright physical assault from Indian authorities.
We urge you to work across the Administration to press the Indian government to immediately end its communications blackout of Kashmir, expedite the process of reviewing and releasing individuals "preventatively" detained, ensure hospitals have access to life-saving medicine and protect the rights of the Kashmiri people to freedom of assembly and worship.
Furthermore, international media and independent human rights observers must immediately be allowed into Jammu & Kashmir to investigate reports of abuse. We also urge the Indian Government at its highest levels to make it clear that religious tolerance -- long a principal of Indian history and democracy -- must be upheld.
UN experts have already spoken out forcefully to condemn India's actions and potential abuse of human rights in Kashmir. At this month's meeting of the UN Human Rights Council, we urge the United States delegation to push for immediate action on these issues. The United States must send a clear message that democracy requires transparency. due process and freedom of assembly and speech, even in the most complex of situations.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Kashmir is the internal matter of India. No external interference should and will be tolerated on this issue. Can US lawmakers give such permissions for any of its states?

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen