US Worried Over Detentions Of Political Leaders, Residents In Kashmir

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CRPF men stand guard at a closed market during lockdown in Srinagar. KO File Photo: Abid Bhat

WASHINGTON – Voicing concern over the prolonged detentions of political leaders as well as other residents in Kashmir, the US said that it has discussed with India its concerns over New Delhi’s roadmap to bring economic and political normalcy in the Valley.

The remarks by a senior State Department official came on Wednesday in response to a question on Kashmir and the criticism of the Modi government.

“There may be individual policies that are going to evoke concern. We will express our concern, we engage with the Indian Government regularly on the full spectrum of issues. But you can’t ignore that these are not policies that are being done in the dark, and so we have to respect that debate, and as well as add our voice to it when appropriate,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

The US has discussed its concern over what the roadmap is in Kashmir to a return to economic and political normalcy, and what has concerned the administration about the actions in Kashmir are the prolonged detentions of political leaders as well as other residents of the Valley, in addition to the restrictions that continue to exist on cell phone coverage and internet, the official said.

Jammu and Kashmir’s three former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti – are under detention since August 5 when India abrogated article 370 to revoke the special status to the state and suspended the internet services there.

India has defended imposition of restrictions in Kashmir on the grounds that they were put to prevent Pakistan from creating more mischief through proxies and terrorists following the abrogation of Article 370.

Did you seek any specific assurances on restoring those services in Kashmir, any ultimatum of any sort on that issue? the official was asked by a reporter at a briefing held after the 2+2 Dialogue between India and the US which was attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and their American counterparts Mark Esper and Mike Pompeo on Wednesday.

“This is not a relationship where we deal in ultimatums,” the official said.

“Again, I think this is a country, a democracy where these policies are being voted on, they’re being debated, they’re being reviewed by a judiciary, and so I would not use that terminology,” the official said in response to the question.

India maintains that the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was its sovereign decision and it cannot accept any interference in its internal affairs.

The Indian government has said that the abrogation of Article 370 was in the interests of the residents of Jammu and Kashmir. It maintains the move will help them get rights that have been denied to them for many decades.

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