New Delhi: The US House Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday asked India to lift the communication blockade in Kashmir, noting that it has had a ‘devastating’ impact in the Valley.
The development came on a day the Jammu and Kashmir administration announced that starting Thursday, tourists will be allowed back into the Valley. On Sunday, a 15-member National Conference (NC) delegation met former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, who has been under detention for over two months now.
In a tweet, the House Foreign Affairs Committee said, “India’s communication blackout in Kashmir is having a devastating impact on the lives and welfare of everyday Kashmiris. It’s time for India to lift these restrictions and afford Kashmiris the same rights and privileges as any other Indian citizen.”
The Committee also said that on October 22, its Asia-Pacific and Non-Proliferation Subcommittee will hold a hearing on Human Rights in Kashmir and other parts of South Asia. The hearing will be chaired by US Congressman Brad Sherman, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Asia.
In a press statement, Sherman said, “Assistant Secretary Alice Wells and Deputy Assistant Secretary Scott Busby will both testify. We have invited other State Department officials and we also expect to hear from private human rights activists on the issues.”
Jammu and Kashmir has been under a security clampdown since July end when the Centre started moving paramilitary troops there over alleged threats of a series of terror attacks. However, as it turned out, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, on August 5, announced that the government was abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution, thereby revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
The region was further divided into two separate union territories (UTs) of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.