Senior US senator ‘disturbed’ by communications restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir

Senior Democratic Congressman and the co-chair of the Senate India Caucus, Mark Warner, said on Tuesday that he is “disturbed” by the communication and movement restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir and asked the government to take steps, including allowing political participation.

“While I understand India has legitimate security concerns, I am disturbed by its restrictions on communications and movement within Jammu and Kashmir. I hope India will live up to its democratic principles by allowing freedom of the press, information, and political participation,” Sherman wrote on Twitter.

On August 5, restrictions were imposed across Kashmir as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order situation in the region, when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories- Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Warner co-chairs the Senate India Caucus, a bipartisan coalition which was the first country-focused caucus established in the Senate. The other co-chair is Texas Senator Jeremy Cornyn, who shared the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Howdy-Modi! event

The government has defended the restrictions saying that Pakistan is trying to use the opportunity to “create trouble in the Valley.”

A statement on Warner website states that the caucus aims to “promote a relationship between India and the United States, (which is) based on mutual trust and respect, (so as) to increase close collaboration across a broad spectrum of strategic interests, such as combating terrorism and promoting democracy, economic development, human rights, scientific research, and natural disaster relief.”

The statement has come ahead of the planned hearing by a US subcommittee on “Human Rights in South Asia”, including the situation in the Kashmir valley, 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.

India has continued to assert that the abrogation of Article 370 to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was it’s “internal matter”

But the restrictions are being lifted in phases from many parts of Kashmir as normalcy started returning.

Governor Satya Pal Malik on Monday directed officials to lift the Home Department’s advisory, issued before the abrogation of Article 370 in August, asking tourists to leave the Valley.

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