WASHINGTON – A US Congressional sub-committee on Monday said it will hold a hearing on the human rights situation in South Asia with focus on Kashmir on October 22.
Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells, who oversees all State Department policy towards South Asia will testify at the hearing, Congressman Brad Sherman, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Asia, said.
“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,” Mr Sherman said in a statement.
The panel will also review the humanitarian situation in Kashmir and whether Kashmiris have adequate supplies of food, medicine and other essentials, he added.
Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Scott Busby, who overseas human rights efforts in South Asia will also testify.
“We have invited other State Department officials and we also expect to hear from private human rights activists on the issues,” Mr Sherman said.
“In August, I had an opportunity to meet Americans from Kashmir Valley in the San Fernando Valley, along with my colleague Congressman Andre Carson (D-IN). We heard stories of difficulties encountered by my constituents and others, and the fears they have for their loved ones. Since then I have had several additional meetings with Kashmiri Americans,” he said.
“I look forward to learning more about human rights in Kashmir,” he said adding it will also focus on the Tamils of Sri Lanka, the human rights situation in Pakistan, including the Sindh Province and Muslims in Assam.
‘Kashmir blockade must end’
US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said that the “blockade” on communication and life-saving medical care in Kashmir “must end”.
In a post shared on Twitter on Monday, Ocasio-Cortez said: “We stand for the basic human dignity of Kashmiris (and) support democracy, equality and human rights for all – including the most vulnerable.
“Reports of violence and torture are extremely concerning and the blockade from communication and life-saving medical care must end,” she tweeted.
The US Congresswoman made the remarks while responding to a video of herself uploaded by a Twitter user, who had thanked her for taking time out to express “solidarity” with Kashmir. (Agencies)