A United States House committee on Monday said that the communication blockade in Jammu and Kashmir was having a “devastating impact on the lives and welfare of everyday Kashmiris”. The committee plans to meet on October 22 to review the situation in the region.

“It’s time for India to lift these restrictions and afford Kashmiris the same rights and privileges as any other Indian citizen,” the Foreign Affairs Committee said in a tweet.

On September 30, US Congressman Brad Sherman, who is a member of the committee, had announced that a subcommittee will hold a hearing on “Human Rights in South Asia” on October 22. In a press release, Sherman had said that the hearing will focus on the Kashmir Valley, where several political leaders have been arrested and communication networks are blocked.

“The hearing will also review the humanitarian situation in Kashmir and whether Kashmiris have adequate supplies of food, medicine, and other essentials,” the statement said. Those testifying before the committee will include Assistant Secretary Alice Wells, in charge of all State Department policies for South Asia, and Scott Busby, the deputy assistant secretary in the bureau of democracy, human rights and labour, among others.

In August, Sherman had met Americans from the Kashmir Valley in the San Fernando Valley. “We heard stories of difficulties encountered by my constituents and others, and the fears they have for their loved ones,” the Congressman had said. “Since then I have had several additional meetings with Kashmiri Americans. I look forward to learning more about human rights in Kashmir.”

The October 22 hearing will also focus on Muslims in Assam, the Tamils of Sri Lanka, and the human rights situation in Pakistan.

The subcommittee had conducted a hearing in July on the human rights situation in southeast Asia. It may also hold another hearing later this year on human rights in east Asia, focusing on events in Hong Kong and the Uighur community.

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