SRINAGAR/MUZAFARABAD (KMS) – In Occupied Kashmir, the lockdown continues on the 6th consecutive day, on Monday, with all shops, main markets and educational institutions shut and public transport off the road in scenic Kashmir Valley and parts of Jammu region.
As the territory entered the third month of the humanitarian crisis triggered by the Indian government’s decision to abrogate special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, normal life continues to remain paralyzed. Internet connectivity stands closed. The train between Baramulla and Banihal continues to be frozen for more than nine weeks.
The authorities made several efforts in the past nine weeks to reopen the schools. However, officials admit that the students did not come to schools. The residents are facing severe hardships due to shortage of essential commodities.
People in most of the Valley areas including Shopian, Pulwama and Kulgam have not been able to harvest the apple, which may have serious impact on the economy of the Kashmiri people.
On Sunday, a high-level US Congressional delegation comprising Senators Chris Van Hollen and Maggie Hassan along with their staffers and US Ambassador Paul Jones visited Muzaffarabad.
According to a press release issued by the Foreign Office, the purpose of the visit was to see the ground situation and gauge public sentiment following the 5 August illegal Indian actions in the Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
A detailed briefing on the current situation on LoC was given by Maj Gen Amer. The delegation also called on Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan and Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider.
The AJK leadership thanked the two senators for the visit and appreciated their support for the just cause of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. While offering them to see first-hand the vibrant and thriving Kashmiri community in Azad Kashmir, the US delegation was apprised of the historical background of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute and the deteriorating situation in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir in wake of prolonged curfew and suppression of fundamental rights and freedoms particularly since August 5.
President Masood Khan and Prime Minister Farooq Haider both urged the US senators to play their role in saving the people of IOJ&K from India’s repressive brutal measures and pressing India to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with UNSC resolutions. Among other things, they also shared the vision and priorities of the AJK government, which were focused on governance, rule of law and development.
The US senators said that they shared the human rights concerns and would continue to urge India to lift the curfew and release all prisoners as a first step. They also expressed their resolve to remain engaged for the resolution of the dispute.