U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal and James P. McGovern have urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to press India to immediately end the communication blockade with Kashmir and release those who have been detained.
In a letter to Pompeo dated Sept. 11, Jayapal, the first and the only Indian American congresswoman in the House of Representatives, and McGovern said the international media and independent human rights observers must immediately be allowed into Jammu and Kashmir to investigate reports of abuse, the Press Trust of India reported.
"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 medicines and protect the rights of the Kashmiri people to freedom of assembly and worship," the letter read.
The two lawmakers told Pompeo that they have significant concerns about the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Kashmir, the report said.
"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 and cut off internet and telephone access on the region," they said.
Restrictions were imposed when New Delhi had on Aug. 5 scrapped the state's special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated in into Union territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
"We also urged the Indian Government at its highest levels to make it clear that religious tolerance – long a principle of Indian history and democracy – must be upheld," the two lawmakers wrote in the letter, according to PTI.
Tagging the letter in a tweet, Jayapal said, "I continue to be deeply concerned about credible reports of a humanitarian crisis in Jammu & Kashmir. Even in complex situations, we look to strong democratic allies like India to uphold basic human rights and due process."
On Sept. 13, four U.S. senators wrote to President Trump raising their concerns about the ongoing situation in Kashmir. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Ben Cardin, (D-Md.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in the letter urged the president to take immediate action to help end the current humanitarian crisis there.
“With each passing day, the situation for the people of Kashmir becomes increasingly difficult,” the letter said. “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. Pakistan must also 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 destabilize Kashmir.”
The senators added: “The United States has a vital role to play in facilitating a resolution to this humanitarian crisis, and we urge you to act swiftly. Once the urgent humanitarian situation has been addressed, we hope the United States can play a constructive role in helping resolve the underlying disputes between the two nuclear powers, India and Pakistan.”