US Senate panel voices concern on humanitarian crisis in IOK

Washington, October 06, 2019 (PPI-OT): The US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has called for an end to what it has described as a ‘humanitarian crisis’ and restrictions including the curbs on communication in occupied Kashmir in its report ahead of the annual Foreign Appropriations Act for 2020. The call was an addition to its report to the Senate by Lindsey Graham, senior Senator and key Republican leader known to be close to President Donald Trump.

The report “notes with concern the current humanitarian crisis in Kashmir and calls on the Government of India to: fully restore telecommunications and Internet services; lift its lockdown and curfew; and release individuals detained pursuant to the Government’s revocation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution,” Indian newspaper the Hindu said.

On September 26, Republican senator Lindsey Graham submitted the “Department of State, Foreign Operations, And Related Programmes Appropriations Bill, 2020” to the Senate. This was submitted along with the report of the senate appropriations sub-committee on state and foreign operations.

In a sub-section titled “Humanitarian Crisis in Kashmir”, the report proposes that India should take steps to mitigate the situation in the territory. The proposal for inserting the text was made by Democrat senator from Maryland, Chris Van Hollen, and was unanimously supported by other members.

There is apparently a growing concern among US Congressmen and senators about continuing restrictions on mobile and internet communications in Kashmir Valley and detention of politicians of the territory. The growing concern is demonstrated by the House sub-committee on Asia holding a hearing on Asia, which will focus on Kashmir, on October 22. The panel will hear from US state department officials, but also from human rights activists.

The house sub-committee chair, Brad Sherman, had announced that the hearing will focus on the Kashmir Valley, where many political activists have been arrested and daily life, the internet, and telephone communications have been interrupted”. He also stated that the hearing would review the humanitarian situation in Kashmir and whether Kashmiris have adequate supplies of food, medicine, and other essentials. Sherman noted in the press release that he had heard stories of difficulties from Americans from Kashmiri Valley and their fears for their loved ones.

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