NEW DELHI – India on Thursday termed as “regrettable” criticism by several US Congressmen over the situation in Kashmir, and said the comments reflected a very limited understanding of the country’s history and its pluralistic society.
Referring to the comments by several US lawmakers at a Congressional hearing, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said instead of criticising New Delhi, the occasion should have been used to ascertain facts on the state-sponsored cross border militancy in Kashmir.
He said India has been regularly updating the departments concerned in the US government on the situation in Kashmir and sensitising them about the “real concerns” over “revival” of cross border militancy by Pakistan.
Kumar said India has taken note of comments of Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells that Pakistan needs to do much more in curbing militancy in its territory in a “credible, verifiable and irreversible” manner.
During the hearing at the House Foreign Affairs Committee on human rights in South Asia on Tuesday, top American lawmakers devoted most of the time discussing the current situation in Kashmir and expressed concern over security clampdown and restrictions imposed in the Valley.
“It is regrettable that a few members of the US Congress used the Congressional hearing on human rights in South Asia to question the measures taken recently to safeguard life, peace and security in Kashmir,” Kumar said in response to a question on the issue at a media briefing.
“These comments display a very limited understanding of India’s history, her pluralistic society, constitutionally guaranteed freedom, fundamental rights and the robust institutions operating in the world’s largest democracy,” he said.
Kumar said India felt that the hearing should have been used to ascertain the facts on the state-sponsored cross border militancy afflicting Kashmir which endangered the most fundamental of human rights, namely, the right to life.
“The government remains responsible for and responsive to the safety and well-being of its citizens,” he said.
Kumar said India has been informing the US about developments in Kashmir.
“We have urged our interlocutors to bear in mind the aspect of cross border terrorism in forming an opinion on the situation,” he said.
“We take note of statements made by Administration officials including by Ambassador Alice Wells that Pakistan needs to do much more in curbing terrorism in its territory in a credible, verifiable and irreversible manner,” Kumar said.
On August 5, India withdrew special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into two Union Territories. Several security restrictions were imposed in Kashmir as well as Jammu following the decision.