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Indian Foreign Minister refuses to meet Pramila Jayapal for raising concerns about Kashmir

The Indian origin US Congresswoman had recently introduced a resolution calling on the Indian Government to uphold human rights in Kashmir

Sabrangindia 27 Dec 2019

Pramila Jayapal

After External Affairs Minister Subramanyam Jaishankar communicated to chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot L. Engel, that he will not attend a meeting on Capitol Hill if Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat, who represents Washington’s 7th Congressional District in the House of Representatives, were to be present there. This snub comes in wake of the resolution introduced by Jayapal recently where she called upon the Indian government to lift the communications blackout imposed on Kashmir since August, end detentions without charges and respect religious freedom.

Jayapal, however, refused to back down and responded in a polite but firm piece in The Washington Post saying, “It is wholly inappropriate for any foreign government to try to dictate which members of Congress participate in meetings on Capitol Hill. It’s also a sign of weakness for any great democracy to refuse to allow those who have some criticisms to participate in a meeting — a giant missed opportunity for two countries that value dialogue and dissent.” 

Detailing the Indian governments failure to defend human rights of Kashmiris, Jayapal writes, “The Indian government’s imposition of a media blackout in Kashmir is now the longest-running Internet shutdown ever to occur in a democracy. While some landlines have been restoredmillions still have no access to mobile services or the InternetForeign journalists have largely been kept out of the region and even Indian members of Parliament have been unable to visit the area. Hospitals have been unable to get supplies, emergency health services have been severely disrupted and people with serious health conditions have been unable to access critical medicines.”

Jayapal adds, “Disturbingly, the Indian government has also “taken into preventive custody” over 5,000 Kashmiris, including about 144 children — many under the Public Safety Act, a controversial law that allows authorities to imprison someone in Kashmir for up to two years without charge or trial. These “preventive” arrests afford detainees no due process and are clear violations of international human rights. As of Dec. 4, 609 people remained in custody in and outside of Kashmir.”

Jayapal also showcases how the Indian administration had refused to communicate with her all along. She writes, “Prior to introduction of the resolution, I had two meetings scheduled with the Indian ambassador to the United States, both of which were canceled by the ambassador’s office.”

But Jayapal didn’t just raise concerns about Kashmir. Now, she is also not holding any punches when she asks tough questions about the idea of citizenship and secularism in wake of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the upcoming nationwide exercise along the lines of Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC). Jayapal writes, “Unfortunately, in the weeks since we introduced our resolution on Kashmir, India has passed a new citizenship law that excludes Muslim migrants from its majority-Muslim neighbors from a new pathway to citizenship, an unprecedented break from India’s secular constitution. Taken together with the National Register for Citizens — a citizenship survey piloted in the state of Assam that led to the exclusion of nearly 2 million people from the state’s citizenship records — many fear this new citizenship law could be used to prevent Muslim migrants from becoming citizens and voting.” She also took on the Indian government when it issued an advisory demanding that cable television stations in the country abstain from broadcasting any content that “promotes anti-national attitudes.”

Reiterating her commitment to defending human rights, Jayapal ended the piece with the following words, “As a member of Congress and as an Indian American, I will continue to speak out on fundamental principles of democracy such as freedom of the press, religious freedom and due process. Protecting these rights — particularly in the most difficult of circumstances — is the only way democracies can survive and thrive.”

The original piece by Pramila Jayapal, that appeared in The Washington Post, may be read here.

Indian Foreign Minister refuses to meet Pramila Jayapal for raising concerns about Kashmir

The Indian origin US Congresswoman had recently introduced a resolution calling on the Indian Government to uphold human rights in Kashmir

Pramila Jayapal

After External Affairs Minister Subramanyam Jaishankar communicated to chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot L. Engel, that he will not attend a meeting on Capitol Hill if Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat, who represents Washington’s 7th Congressional District in the House of Representatives, were to be present there. This snub comes in wake of the resolution introduced by Jayapal recently where she called upon the Indian government to lift the communications blackout imposed on Kashmir since August, end detentions without charges and respect religious freedom.

Jayapal, however, refused to back down and responded in a polite but firm piece in The Washington Post saying, “It is wholly inappropriate for any foreign government to try to dictate which members of Congress participate in meetings on Capitol Hill. It’s also a sign of weakness for any great democracy to refuse to allow those who have some criticisms to participate in a meeting — a giant missed opportunity for two countries that value dialogue and dissent.” 

Detailing the Indian governments failure to defend human rights of Kashmiris, Jayapal writes, “The Indian government’s imposition of a media blackout in Kashmir is now the longest-running Internet shutdown ever to occur in a democracy. While some landlines have been restoredmillions still have no access to mobile services or the InternetForeign journalists have largely been kept out of the region and even Indian members of Parliament have been unable to visit the area. Hospitals have been unable to get supplies, emergency health services have been severely disrupted and people with serious health conditions have been unable to access critical medicines.”

Jayapal adds, “Disturbingly, the Indian government has also “taken into preventive custody” over 5,000 Kashmiris, including about 144 children — many under the Public Safety Act, a controversial law that allows authorities to imprison someone in Kashmir for up to two years without charge or trial. These “preventive” arrests afford detainees no due process and are clear violations of international human rights. As of Dec. 4, 609 people remained in custody in and outside of Kashmir.”

Jayapal also showcases how the Indian administration had refused to communicate with her all along. She writes, “Prior to introduction of the resolution, I had two meetings scheduled with the Indian ambassador to the United States, both of which were canceled by the ambassador’s office.”

But Jayapal didn’t just raise concerns about Kashmir. Now, she is also not holding any punches when she asks tough questions about the idea of citizenship and secularism in wake of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the upcoming nationwide exercise along the lines of Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC). Jayapal writes, “Unfortunately, in the weeks since we introduced our resolution on Kashmir, India has passed a new citizenship law that excludes Muslim migrants from its majority-Muslim neighbors from a new pathway to citizenship, an unprecedented break from India’s secular constitution. Taken together with the National Register for Citizens — a citizenship survey piloted in the state of Assam that led to the exclusion of nearly 2 million people from the state’s citizenship records — many fear this new citizenship law could be used to prevent Muslim migrants from becoming citizens and voting.” She also took on the Indian government when it issued an advisory demanding that cable television stations in the country abstain from broadcasting any content that “promotes anti-national attitudes.”

Reiterating her commitment to defending human rights, Jayapal ended the piece with the following words, “As a member of Congress and as an Indian American, I will continue to speak out on fundamental principles of democracy such as freedom of the press, religious freedom and due process. Protecting these rights — particularly in the most difficult of circumstances — is the only way democracies can survive and thrive.”

The original piece by Pramila Jayapal, that appeared in The Washington Post, may be read here.

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