A bipartisan group of United States senators on Thursday wrote to President Donald Trump, requesting him to press India to lift the communications blackout in Kashmir Valley and ease the lockdown.
Though some of the restrictions imposed on August 5 after the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status remain, landline connectivity has been restored across the state while mobile phone connections are reportedly working in Jammu.
“With each passing day, the situation for the people of Kashmir becomes increasingly difficult,” senators Chris Van Hollen, Todd Young, Ben Cardin and Lindsay Graham told Trump. “Therefore, we ask that you call upon Prime Minister Modi to fully restore telecommunications and internet services, lift the lockdown and curfew, and release Kashmiris detained pursuant to India’s revocation of Article 370.”
The senators also said that Pakistan, which recently raised the Kashmir matter at the United Nations Human Rights Council, “must end its support and safe haven for militant groups operating on its soil – including those targeting India – and refrain from taking any steps that could further destabilise Kashmir”.
The legislators said the United States “has a vital role to play in facilitating a resolution to this humanitarian crisis”. After the urgent humanitarian situation is addressed “we hope the United States can play a constructive role in helping resolve the underlying disputes between the two nuclear powers”, they added.
The statement came a day after Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and Congressman James P McGovern also urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to get India to immediately end the communications blockade and release those who have been detained. The lawmakers said they had significant concerns about the “humanitarian and human rights crisis” in Kashmir.
Trump has offered a number of times to mediate in the Kashmir dispute but has been turned down by India. The US president first inserted himself into the dispute in July by claiming that Modi had asked him to mediate. India refuted the claims but the Trump administration said the president stood firm on his statement. On August 20, Trump said the Kashmir crisis “is a big deal”, adding that it was an “explosive situation”. He told reporters on Monday that the conflict was “a little bit less heated right now than [what] was two weeks ago”.
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