US congressman calls on India to guarantee human rights to oppressed Kashmiris

Web Desk
August 05, 2020

Trone says the pandemic layered on top of civil unrest threatens lives, livelihoods of Kashmiris

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David Trone urges India to ensure that IoK citizens are given the same rights and privileges as other citizens and equal treatment under the law. Photo: File

Democratic US Congressman and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, David Trone, called on India to guarantee the human rights of oppressed Kashmiris in the occupied valley, a year after New Delhi abrogated its separate status and intensified a crackdown in Indian occupied Kashmir.

“On August 5, 2019, the Government of India announced it would change Jammu and Kashmir’s special status within the constitution and consider it as a union territory of India. At that time, the Indian military moved 45,000 additional troops into the region, suspended internet and telephone service, and arrested thousands without a full disclosure of charges,” said Trone in a statement released on Tuesday.

In his press statement, the US congressman said that the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons report stated that 32 civilians have been killed in 2020 so far.

Trone said that Doctors Without Borders have reported that “45% of the population in Jammu and Kashmir have experienced mental distress and many more have witnessed violence firsthand”.

Calling India a key democratic partner of the US, the Congressman urged the country to ensure that the IoK citizens are given the same rights and privileges as other citizens and equal treatment under the law. “This respect for dignity must be paramount,” it stated.

“In January, the Indian government started lifting some communications restrictions, permitting 2G internet access in approved sites. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the region has experienced another lockdown with more restrictions on movement.

The healthcare system is overworked in Jammu and Kashmir like it is in so many other regions. There are limited personal protective equipment and a shortage of medical personnel. The lack of reliable internet service has prevented Kashmiris from accessing quick information on coronavirus resources and has hampered any efforts to provide telehealth services."

Trone said he has heard reports that doctors in the occupied valley feel unable to voice their concerns for fear that Indian authorities will claim they are opposing the Government of India. "Clearly, the pandemic layered on top of civil unrest in the region further threatens the lives and livelihoods of the residents in Jammu and Kashmir."

Last year, the Indian government had rushed through a presidential decree to abolish Article 370 of the Constitution which granted special status to Indian-occupied Kashmir, leading to a rise in tensions in the valley.

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