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US lawmakers once again express concern over India’s actions in IoK

US lawmakers once again express concern over India’s actions in IoK
November 15, 2019
WASHINGTON (92 News) – During a Congressional hearing on human rights, the US lawmakers have once again expressed concerns about the grim situation in Occupied Kashmir. According to the KMS, Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said that she is deeply concerned by Indian government’s actions in Kashmir. Democrats Sheila Jackson Lee, David Trone and David Cicilline, also criticised India’s actions after scrapping Kashmir’s special status. Arunima Bhargava, commissioner from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, said that the rights of Muslim communities are being curtailed because of Indian government’s actions. “Throughout the country, political and community leaders are promulgating an ideology that suggests that to be Indian is necessarily to be Hindu and views India’s religious minorities as subordinate or foreign,” she told the hearing. “India’s religious minorities currently stand at a precipice. If the Indian government continues on its current trajectory, their livelihood, rights, and freedoms could be in serious danger,” she pointed out. On occupied Kashmir, Bhargava said, “USCIRF is concerned about reports starting in August that the Indian government restricted freedom of movement and assembly in Jammu and Kashmir, limiting people’s ability to attend prayers and participate in religious ceremonies; forestalling any large gatherings, including for religious purposes; and for certain communities, curtailing access to healthcare and other basic services.” She said mobile and internet services were denied to Kashmiris and healthcare was withheld by the Indian government. “USCIRF has also seen reports of mosques being closed; imams and Muslim community leaders arrested and detained; and violence and threats towards residents and businesses in particular,” she told the Commission. Bhargava, who is of Indian descent, said the restrictions in the region impacted the ability of people to “practice their faith”, visit their places of worship and exercise their rights. She claimed this was targeted at a certain community. Witnesses examined the situation in the occupied territory and recommended action by the Congress, similar to the last hearing held on October 22. The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bi-partisan commission, held the hearing on Thursday to examine the human rights situation in Kashmir in its historical context, a statement issued at the Commission’s website said. India had on August 5 revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir by repealing Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and announced its division into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. These two UTs came into existence on October 31. India had also put the occupied territory under severe military siege and communications blockade on August 5.