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Three days after Trump thumbs up on Kashmir, U.S. expresses concerns again

The U.S. has expressed concern over continued restrictions and communication blockade.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Three days after U.S. President Donald Trump met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in France and discussed the situation in Kashmir, American officials said they were “concerned” about the continuing communication restrictions and detentions in the Valley.

Mr. Trump had said he discussed the Kashmir issue with Mr. Modi and that the latter stated he “really feels he has it under control,” and that India and Pakistan could resolve the issue bilaterally.

Sources told The Hindu that diplomats from different embassies, including senior officials from the United States and the United Kingdom, have been meeting Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) officials over the past few days to stress that they were watching the situation closely.

A State Department spokesperson said in comments made available by the U.S. Embassy in Delhi on Thursday. “We continue to be very concerned by reports of detentions and the continued restrictions on the residents of the region. We urge respect for human rights, compliance with legal procedures, and inclusive dialogue with those affected. We welcome Prime Minister Modi’s statement that Jammu and Kashmir will soon return to a normal political status.”

The spokesperson added, “We call on all parties to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control and to prevent cross-border terrorism. We continue to support direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and other issues of concern.”

The comments, which also addressed recent statements by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan as well, said: “The United States is watching the situation in Jammu and Kashmir closely. We continue to call for calm and restraint, including on rhetoric…We note the broader implications of the developments in Jammu and Kashmir and the potential for increased instability in the region.”

The comments came on a day Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a statement urging the government to lift the shutdown of telephones and Internet services in Jammu and Kashmir and alleging that the restrictions had resulted in “disproportionate harm on the population”.

A statement issued by HRW said, “broad, indiscriminate, and indefinite restrictions on fundamental freedoms, including the right to free expression and to provide and receive information,” violated international human rights law.

The government has maintained that the restrictions are necessary to prevent large-scale violence and to subvert terrorist threats. “Some international organisations trying to tell us how we should organise our matters,” said MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, “We completely reject such unsubstantiated statements.”

At a weekly briefing, Mr. Kumar told journalists, “The local [J&K] govt is handling the situation with maturity and restraint. Not a single life has been lost not a single bullet has been fired. We hope normalcy returns to the state as soon as possible.”

According to Mr. Kumar, who repeated some of the figures put out by Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satyapal Malik a day before, 81 of 111 police stations in Kashmir were now working without daytime restrictions, and 167 of 197 across Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh were operating without restrictions. Internal reports also said that about 40% of the landlines in the Valley were working, and many of more than 2,000 people arrested since August 5 were now being released.

Meanwhile, officials said incidents of pelting of stones have increased and more than 80% of the violent protests were in and around Srinagar.

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2020 9:09:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/us-again-expresses-concern-on-jk/article29291909.ece

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