The Hindu – House of Representatives to host second hearing on human rights in Kashmir today

Witnesses will examine the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and offer recommendations for action by Congress

Sriram Lakshman

Washington DC – USA, 14 November 2019. With a hearing on Kashmir at the USA House of Representatives scheduled for 14 November, the choppy waters on Capitol Hill that India has found itself in, at least since the October 22 hearing on human rights in South Asia, do not seem to be letting up.

The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bi-partisan commission, will hold a hearing “to examine the human rights situation in the former State of Jammu and Kashmir in India in historical and national context,” a statement from the Commission’s website said.

“Witnesses will examine the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir in the context of the region’s history and larger patterns of rights violations in India and Pakistan, and will offer recommendations for action by Congress,” the Commission said, outlining the restrictions from the Indian side placed on Kashmir since Article 370 was abrogated by Parliament in early August.

‘Article 370 hampering development in J&K’

“The increased militarisation of the security presence in the region and the economic and social consequences of the central government’s actions, including continuing restrictions on internet and phones, have also provoked widespread concern,” the statement read.

“In addition, militants have targeted migrant workers from outside Kashmir, and have threatened businesses to maintain a protest shutdown.”

Indian diplomats have, since the legislative changes in early August, been doing the rounds of Capitol Hill as well as lobbying at the state and district level via the Consuls General, highlighting the government’s position on the changes in Kashmir issue, that Article 370 was hampering development in Jammu and Kashmir and therefore had to go, and that restrictions, which have been progressively eased, are in place for security reasons.

These arguments did not stop the criticism at the 22 October hearing. Members of Congress were focussed on continuing restrictions on mobile data and internet access in Kashmir, the numbers still in detention and foreign correspondents not being allowed access to the region.

This prompted renewed diplomatic outreach by Indian officials, including India’s USA Ambassador meeting with USA lawmakers on 29 and 30 October.

List of witnesses

The Indian side has concerns about Thursday’s hearing, including that the list of witnesses largely comprises known critics of the Indian position, The Hindu has learned.

One witness, Yousra Y Fazili, a human rights lawyer, is the niece of one of those detained in Kashmir, Mubeen Shah. The Commission website describes Ms Fazili as a “Human rights lawyer and Kashmiri-American cousin of Mubeen Shah, detained Kashmiri businessman.”

The Hindu asked a Commission representative for a response to the criticism that it was one-sided.

“The Commission’s mandate is to promote, defend and advocate for internationally recognised human rights norms as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Kimberly Stanton, a spokesperson for the Commission told The Hindu.

“The ‘side’ the Commission takes on all issues is that of individuals and communities who credibly allege that their rights have been violated.”

The witness list also includes Sunanda Vashisht, who the Commission describes as a “writer, political commentator, and Kashmiri Hindu who identifies as a victim of ethnic cleansing.”

A Commissioner from the USA Commission on International Religious Freedom, Arunima Bhargava, will testify in the first of two panels at the hearing. The second panel will include human rights lawyers, a professor of anthropology and John Stifton, a director at Human Rights Watch.

Short notice around the hearing

Another issue for the Indian side has been the short notice around the hearing, which was posted on Monday, three days before the hearing itself.

“Commission hearings are posted once the description of the topic and initial witness list receive final approval. In this case, the hearing was finalised over the weekend and posted on the holiday [Monday],” Ms Stanton told The Hindu.

The panel, is headed by James P McGovern (Democrat, Massachusetts) and Chris Smith (Republican, New Jersey), and is mostly comprised of Democrats, who have, typically, been more vocal in their criticism of India’s recent actions around Kashmir.

“We are working hard to level the playing field,” India’s Ambassador to the USA Harsh Vardhan Shringla told The Hindu, about current diplomatic efforts around Thursday’s hearing, but did not elaborate on how this was being done.

The Hindu – Maharashtra impasse: Kharge says Congress will sit in Opposition, Pawar meets NCP leaders

Mumbai – Maharashtra, 10 November 2019. Bhagat Singh Koshyari asked the BJP to “indicate the willingness and ability” to form government.

Congress general secretary Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday met the party’s newly elected MLAs from Maharashtra, who are staying at a resort in Jaipur, to discuss the political situation in the state while NCP chief Sharad Pawar met some of his party leaders in Mumbai.

Later talking to reporters in Jaipur, Mr Kharge reiterated his party’s stand of sitting in the Opposition in Maharashtra, while Mr Pawar said he would react only to an official statement from the Sonia Gandhi-led party.

Former Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam in Mumbai said “it seems the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance has broken”, and that he would urge his party leadership not to encourage government formation with the Shiv Sena’s help as it will “not be a stable government” and both the Congress and NCP will suffer.

“We have not changed our stand from day one. We have always maintained that we will sit in the opposition and respect the mandate,” Mr Kharge said after meeting the Maharashtra Congress MLAs in Jaipur.

Earlier, senior Congress leader Manikrao Thakare told PTI that Mr Kharge met the MLAs informally to ascertain their views on what stand the party should take over government formation in Maharashtra.

“Kharge will then convey the sentiments of the legislators to the party leadership,” Mr Thakare said.

All 44 newly elected Maharashtra Congress MLAs, including senior leaders like Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan and Balasaheb Thorat, were staying at a resort in the Congress-ruled Rajasthan amid fear of ‘poaching’ in view of the stalemate over government formation.

A senior Congress leader, on condition of anonymity, said the All India Congress Committee (AICC) has deputed two observers to hold discussions with the MLAs in Jaipur on what stand the party should take in view of the impasse on government formation.

“The Congress has to decide if it wants to stop the BJP in Maharashtra or whether it doesn’t care if the BJP is able to form a government. An alternative government can be formed only with Congress’ support,” he said.

He also said that Mr Kharge held informal talks with the Maharashtra Congress MLAs in Jaipur in the morning.

He also brushed aside suggestions that the Governor could invite the Congress-NCP for government formation as the ’second largest’ alliance, claiming no such provision existed in the Sarkaraia Commission’s recommendations.

In another development, NCP chief Sharad Pawar also held a meeting with some of his party leaders in Mumbai.

Refusing to speak on a “non-BJP alliance”, Mr Pawar said he would react only to Congress’ official statement.

“I cannot go by news reports about the decision of the Congress. I will react only when the Congress officially informs me about its decision,” Mr. Pawar told reporters.

Meanwhile, former Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam reiterated his party’s stand of not being in favour of entering into an alliance with the Shiv Sena.

“The mandate is for the BJP-Sena (to form government) and for the Congress-NCP to sit in the opposition,” he told reporters.

With no new governmernt in sight, Maharashtra Assembly to be in ‘suspended animation’

“It looks like the BJP-Sena alliance has broken. There have been talks that the Shiv Sena and NCP may join hands to stake claim for the government. I feel respect to the mandate is not indulging in government formation exercise,” he said.

“I will pursue with our central leadership to not encourage formation of a government in Maharashtra with the help of the Shiv Sena. It will not be a stable government and ultimately both the Congress and NCP will suffer,” said Mr Nirupam, who was a Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha member before joining the Congress.

The BJP and its ally Shiv Sena are locked in a bitter tussle over the Chief Minister’s post.

Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Saturday asked the BJP, the single largest party in the new Assembly, to “indicate the willingness and ability” to form government in the State.

In the October 21 polls to the 288-member state Assembly, the BJP won 105 seats, Shiv Sena-56, NCP-54 and Congress-44.

The Hindu – ‘Kartarpur model’ may help resolve future conflicts: Manmohan Singh

“Peace and harmony is the only way forward to ensure a prosperous future. The Kartarpur model may be replicated in future too for lasting resolution of conflicts,” says the former Prime Minister.

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 06 November 2019. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday hoped the “Kartarpur model” might help in resolving future conflicts, as he and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu addressed a special session of the Punjab Assembly to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev.

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu too said a new world of peace and sustainable development could be founded if teachings of the Sikh Guru were integrated in daily lives.

“Peace and harmony is the only way forward to ensure a prosperous future. The Kartarpur model may be replicated in future too for lasting resolution of conflicts,” the former PM said.

The Kartarpur corridor, scheduled to be opened on November 9, links the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan, the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev, with Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur of Indian Punjab.

The former PM also appealed to take forward the message of mutual love and respect propagated by the Sikhism founder to ensure an equitable society.

“Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s eternal message of oneness of god, religious tolerance and peace can pave the way to end sectarian violence”, Mr Singh said, adding that it was the biggest challenge faced by the world.

“Punjab is Guru Nanak Devji’s karmabhoomi. How will we keep Guru Nanak Devji’s legacy alive if its youth is wasted with drugs, water is becoming poisonous and women are being disrespected. It is the most crucial question on his 550th birth anniversary,” Mr Singh added.

Addressing the session, the Vice-President described Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev as one of India’s most democratic spiritual leaders. Mr Naidu said his vision was timeless and “had as much relevance today as it was when it was expounded five centuries ago”.

Mr Naidu, who started his address in Punjabi, said, “It is quite appropriate that this temple of democracy is dedicating a special session to one of India’s most democratic spiritual leaders.”

“Guru Nanak ji belongs to the long illustrious tradition of India’s visionary spiritual leaders who have illumined human existence and greatly enriched the country’s cultural capital,” said Mr. Naidu, adding that the Guru saw what ordinary people could not.

“They enrich people’s lives through their insights and ideas. In fact, that is the meaning of the word ‘guru’ A guru is one who provides illumination, dispels doubts and shows the path,” he said, adding that for the first Sikh Guru, differences and multiple identities based on caste, creed, religion and language were irrelevant.

“Our world view has been continually broadened by timeless messages of enlightened pathfinders like Guru Nanakji. We, as democratic political leaders, and even as common citizens, have so much to learn from the teachings of this great personality,” Mr. Naidu said.

The vice president further said, “If we can internalise and integrate these messages in our daily lives and reshape our thinking and actions, we can certainly discover a new world of peace and sustainable development,”.

He said the respect for women and gender equality was another important lesson to be learnt from Guru Nanak Dev’s life.

“This spirit of equality began with Guru Nanak Dev’s clear recognition that there is no distinction between a Hindu and Muslim. For him, no country was foreign and no people were alien,” said the Vice-President.

He said it was worth noting that Guru Nanak initiated an inter-faith dialogue way back in the 16th century AD.

“The world needs such spiritual leaders, who can engage in a meaningful dialogue to exchange ideas in order to promote peace, stability and cooperation,” said Mr Naidu. Mr Naidu also said Guru Nanak Dev insisted on earning one’s livelihood by hard work.

“Work, worship and share (kirt karo, naam japo and vand chhako) was the motto he placed before his disciples. Earn by honest labour and share the earnings with the needy,” said Mr Naidu.

Underlining the message of Guru Nanak Dev, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh too stressed the need to protect nature so that future generations do not suffer from environmental pollution.

Recalling the Guru’s thought “pavan guru, pani pita, mata dharat mahat” (air is the guru, water the father, and earth the mother), the Chief Minister underlined the intrinsic bond between the nature and mankind.

This ideology needed to be preserved in letter and spirit to ensure that future generations did not suffer from environmental pollution, as evident from the prevailing air pollution in the entire northern region, including the national capital, said Mr. Singh.

He appealed to everyone to preserve the nature and natural resources to make Punjab clean, green and pollution free in line with the Guru’s philosophy by making the optimal use of groundwater, diversifying into less water-intensive crops and stop burning paddy straw besides checking the use of chemical fertilisers.

Earlier, the session started with MLAs and MPs from Punjab and Haryana taking part in it.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala, Punjab and Haryana Governors, VP Singh Badnore and Satyadev Narayan Arya, also attended the special session.

It is for the first time after the carving of Haryana out of Punjab in 1966 that legislators of both states sat together in the Punjab assembly for this special event.

The Hindu – Lieutenant Governors take charge in Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh

Amit Baruah

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 31 October 2019. Girish Murmu sworn in as J&K’s first Lieutenant Governor; R K Mathur takes over as Ladakh Lieutenant Governor.

Jammu and Kashmir became the first State of the Indian Union to be reduced to a Union Territory (UT), with former IAS officer Girish Murmu being sworn in as its first Lieutenant Governor (LG) on Thursday .

Bifurcated from the former State, Ladakh also became a UT, with former civil servant R K Mathur taking over as its Lieutenant Governor in Leh.

The Kashmir Valley saw a complete shutdown, as Mr Murmu, a Gujarat cadre IAS officer handpicked by the Centre, became the new executive authority of the UT, which will now be directly administered by the Union Home Ministry.

Former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti continue to be under detention from August 4, a day before the Rajya Sabha voted to end special status to J&K.

The Indian Union now has 28 States and nine UTs. J&K’s State Constitution has also ceased to operate.

Hours before the swearing-in ceremony at the Raj Bhavan, on the outskirts of Srinagar, this correspondent saw all roads leading to it being sealed off by security forces. There was heavy security in the area.

All shops and business establishments downed their shutters and no private vehicles could be seen plying in the city. In the weeks gone by, shops were open in the morning hours and their shutters were downed by 10 am. But on Thursday, all of them were all closed.

Residents of the Kashmir Valley continue to have no access to both fixed-line and mobile Internet services, which were snapped on the midnight of 04 August.

Anger on the streets

There was palpable anger on the streets. A bunch of people told this correspondent on Residency Road that ending their special status was an “act of betrayal” by the BJP government at the Centre.

“No bandh call has been given by separatists or militants, but people have spontaneously downed the shutters in protest against the ending of our special status. It is the people who have taken over as leaders of this movement,” one shopkeeper, who took this correspondent to his shuttered shop, said.

“How can we believe that full statehood will be restored to us when so many promises made to us on autonomy have been flouted by the Government of India?” another shopkeeper, who preferred anonymity like his colleague, said.

Both the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party expressed their anguish over the change in J&K’s status. “Forcible division will neither change the unity and collective character of J&K, nor will it solve the Kashmir problem,” the NC said in a statement.

On 05 August, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said in the Rajya Sabha that the government would consider restoring full statehood to J&K if the Union Territory model worked well.

Interestingly, while the J&K UT will have a 114-member elected Assembly, up from 107 earlier, and a Chief Minister, the Ladakh UT will be controlled directly by the Lieutenant Governor.

Soon after being sworn in, Mr Mathur said, “We will chalk out a blueprint to push development in different sectors. Health and education will remain a key focus.”

With inputs from Peerzada Ashiq

The Hindu – Government against “thinkers”, fosters atmosphere which destroys critical thinking: Sitaram Yechury

Tagging his comment with a cartoon on Twitter, Mr Yechury said the government was against the spirit of inquiry

New Delhi – India, 15 October 2019. The government was against “thinkers” and fosters an atmosphere which “destroys” critical thinking, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Tuesday said, a day after Indian-American and JNU alumni Abhijit Banerjee was awarded the Nobel Prize along with two others in Economics.

Tagging his comment with a cartoon on Twitter, which showed Nobel laureates from West Bengal, Rabindranath Tagore and Amartya Sen asking Mr Banerjee to join “the club” and to keep his award safe as well as thoughts to himself, Mr Yechury said the government was against the spirit of inquiry.

“RSS/BJP government believes in FIRs against thinkers and attacks on Universities. They foster a climate that works to destroy critical thinking, reason and the spirit of inquiry. Our Constitution speaks of a commitment to scientific temper but that would threaten the RSS/BJP government,” he said.

Mr Yechury said the government should focus on feeding the poor and building a robust public distribution system.

“First feed our poor. Increase subsidised food allocation through public distribution system. But the Modi govt is busy in destroying our social fabric, and in PR and tamashas. The facts on India’s Hunger problem are stark. The Economy crashing is not just numbers. It is about lives, but the Modi govt does not care,” he tweeted.

The Hindu – Sikh militancy: Special remission for 5 policemen

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 15 October 2019. Five police personnel, undergoing life sentences for crimes related to the Sikh militancy in Punjab, will be released from jails after the Centre approved a proposal from the Punjab government, an official said.

The decision came a fortnight after the Union Home Ministry decided to release eight Sikh prisoners, lodged in various jails in the country, for committing crimes during the militancy in Punjab and commute the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana, who killed Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh.

“The government of India has accepted the request of the government of Punjab for grant of special remission and release of five Punjab police personnel undergoing sentence in different jails in Punjab for offences committed during the militancy period,” the Home Ministry said.

The Hindu – In a first, USA lawmakers take a step against India on Kashmir

Senate panel adds appeal to end the “humanitarian crisis” in Kashmir in its report.

Suhasini Haidar

New Delhi – India, 05 October 2019. In what could become the first step towards legislative action by American lawmakers against India on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has added an appeal to end what it calls a “humanitarian crisis” in Kashmir in its report ahead of the annual Foreign Appropriations Act for 2020.

The amendment was proposed by Senator Chris Van Hollen, who visited Delhi this week as a part of a congressional delegation that discussed the Kashmir situation as well as India-USA bilateral relations, trade ties and defence purchases with key officials.

‘Restore communication’

According to the report, which was submitted to the Senate by Lindsey Graham, senior Senator and key Republican leader known for his close ties to President Donald Trump, the committee on Appropriations “notes with concern the current humanitarian crisis in Kashmir and calls on the Government of India to: fully restore telecommunications and Internet services; lift its lockdown and curfew; and release individuals detained pursuant to the Government’s revocation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution.”

What makes the report as well as the tough language on Kashmir more startling is that the document was submitted on 26 September, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi was still in the US, and came just a few days after his joint address at the ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event in Houston with Mr. Trump, as well as their bilateral meeting in New York.

Expression of concern

“This amendment, which was accepted unanimously by the bipartisan committee, is a strong expression of concern by the Senate about the situation in Kashmir and sends the signal that we are closely monitoring the human rights situation there, and would like to see the Government of India take those concerns seriously,” Mr. Van Hollen told The Hindu here, adding that he had “hoped to share his concerns privately” with Prime Minister Modi, but had not been able to meet him.

Mr Van Hollen had met with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in Washington last week and Senator Bob Menendez, also a part of the delegation, met with Commerce and Industries Minister Piyush Goyal this week in Delhi. Both Senators have made public statements in the last two months on the Kashmir situation.

Denied permission

While it is unclear whether their concerns over Kashmir elicited any responses from the government, The Hindu has learnt that Senator Van Hollen was rebuffed when requested permission to visit Srinagar in an effort to assess the situation on the ground.

When asked, MEA officials said the Ministry of Home Affairs handled such requests. No diplomat or foreign journalist has yet been given clearance to visit Kashmir since the government’s decision on Article 370 on 05 August.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit in Delhi on Friday, Mr Jaishankar said many key decision-makers in the USA had been “misinformed by their media” and that he had spent considerable efforts in the past few weeks to clear misconceptions on the government’s decision to drop the “temporary” Article 370.

With inputs from Sriram Lakshman

The Hindu – Delegation of Muslim spiritual leaders to visit Jammu and Kashmir

Jaipur – Rajastan – India, 10 October 2019. The delegation members are from Rajasthan, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Bihar.

A delegation of Sufi leaders and spiritual heads of various shrines across the country will visit Jammu and Kashmir between October 12 and 14 to meet the locals and assess the ground situation there.

The spiritual head of Ajmer dargah, Zainul Abedin Ali Khan, has taken the initiative to send the delegation comprising 18 members that will be led by his son Nasiruddin Chisty.

“Kashmir has been a sufferer of false propaganda which is executed against India from across the border. I felt the necessity that we should interact with Kashmiri people, particularly youths, and work for prosperity in Jammu and Kashmir.

Therefore the decision to send a delegation to J&K was taken,” the Ajmer dargah Deewan said in Ajmer on Thursday.

“We would like to act as a bridge between the Kashmiri (people) and prosperity,” he added.

He said that the Union government and other authorities have been informed about the visit of the delegation, which will leave New Delhi on 12 October.

The delegation members are from Rajasthan, (Ajmer, Jaipur and Jhunjhjunu), Hyderabad, New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Bihar.

Mr Chisty said that the delegation members will be interacting mainly with youngsters in Jammu and Kashmir and will assess the ground reality.

Our aim is to build trust among youths and other people and to bring them into the mainstream,” Mr. Chisty said.

Are they being paid by the Modi government or are they just ignorent and naive ?
Man in Blue

The Hindu – Centre ‘in the dark’ on Jammu and Kashmir detentions, restrictions

To an RTI query, Union Home Ministry says it has no information and directs applicant to the J&K administration.

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 06 October 2019. The Home Ministry does not have information on any orders passed to block telecommunications and Internet, suspend radio and satellite television services, evacuate tourists and detain political leaders and activists in Jammu and Kashmir in August.

The Ministry says it has no information on the names and locations of the detainees, and directed any queries to the State administration.

In response to a recent Right to Information request to share copies of such orders, directions or advisories, two Central public information officers of the Ministry’s J&K division said the information was not available with them.

The Ministry said, “The information might be available with the State government of J&K.”

However, the RTI application could not be forwarded to the J&K government as the RTI Act, 2005 is not applicable in the State, said the response. According to it, a separate application could be filed under the State’s RTI law. This option is only available to the State’s residents.

A senior official in the J&K government said Central laws, including the RTI Act, 2005, would come into effect in J&K only when it became a Union Territory on October 31.

Venkatesh Nayak, the activist who filed the RTI request, noted that the State of J&K had been under President’s Rule since December 19, 2018 and how was it possible that the Home Ministry did not have information on orders imposing travel and telecom restrictions.

“All powers of the Governor and the State Legislature stand transferred to the President of India. The work of the State Government is being carried out under the guidance of the Central Government through the State’s Governor who has only babus to run the administration,” he said on 06 October.

“Any order imposing curbs on travel and telecommunications will at least be copied to the Union Home Ministry in which the J&K Division is housed, if not actually directed by the MHA. So the CPIOs’ replies that they have no information about the curbs imposed and the arrests and detention of residents of J&K are not based on truth and reality,” he said on 06 October.

Mr Nayak filed his RTI application on August 30, almost a month after the shutdown of the State in preparation for the government’s announcement regarding the amendment of Article 370. Apart from copies of the relevant orders, he asked for the names of the political leaders and activists under detention or custody, the addresses where they are being held, and the law under which they were detained.

Pass the question

The first CPIO, T Sreekanth, said no information was available with them, and passed on the query to the second CPIO. She responded that the “information sought by you is not available with the undersigned CPIO.”

Instead, she directed the RTI applicant to the J&K State government for further queries.

An earlier request by RTI activist Nutan Thakur for a copy of the Ministry’s file on the decision to amend Article 370 had been denied, citing exemptions allowed under the RTI Act without specifying the specific reason for exemption being claimed.

The Hindu – Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren urges India to respect rights of people of Kashmir

The Massachusetts Senator’s statement comes a month after fellow Democrat Bernie Sanders expressed similar concerns.

Washington DC – USA, 05 October 2019. Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren on 05 October voiced concerns over the restrictions and communication blockade in Kashmir, urging India to respect the rights of the people of Kashmir.

“The US-India partnership has always been rooted in our shared democratic values. I’m concerned about recent events in Kashmir, including a continued communications blackout and other restrictions. The rights of the people of Kashmir must be respected,” Ms. Warren tweeted.

The Massachusetts Senator is the second influential American politician to raise concerns over Kashmir. Her statement comes a month after fellow Democrat Bernie Sanders expressed similar concerns.

Addressing the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America in Houston on 01 September, Mr. Sanders said he was “deeply concerned” about the situation in Kashmir and asked the U.S. government to “speak out boldly” in support of a UN-backed peaceful resolution to resolve the issue.

“I am deeply concerned about the situation in Kashmir…India’s action is unacceptable,” he said while addressing one of the largest Muslim gatherings in the USA.

In an opinion piece in Houston Chronicle, Mr Sanders wrote on 22 September that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and USA President Donald Trump’s joint address at the “Howdy, Modi” event was happening at a time when Kashmir remained under lockdown.

“When President (Donald) Trump meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston, we will hear much about the friendship between the American and Indian peoples. However, there will be a deafening silence when it comes to a human rights crisis unfolding right before our eyes, and that is unacceptable,” he said.