US Committee Urges India to End Communication Blackout in Valley

India's communication blackout is having a devastating impact on the lives and welfare of the people of Kashmir, a powerful US Congressional Committee has said, urging New Delhi to lift its more than two-month long restrictions in the Valley.

Restrictions were first imposed across Kashmir on 5 August when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Normal life has remained affected in Kashmir for over months as main markets continue to be shut and public transport off the roads.

Mobile services remain suspended in Kashmir except in Handwara and Kupwara areas in the north, while Internet services - across all platforms continued to be snapped in the Valley since 5 August.

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"“India’s communication blackout in Kashmir is having a devastating impact on the lives and welfare of everyday Kashmiris”" - House Foreign Affairs Committee, US

"Its time for India to lift these restrictions and afford Kashmiris the same rights and privileges as any other Indian citizen," House of Foreign Affairs Committee added.

The House committee comes nearly a month after Indian-American lawmaker Pramila Jayapal, along with 13 other US Congressmen, urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address concerns over the human rights situation in Kashmir and lift the communications blackout.

The Asia-Pacific and Non-Proliferation Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has scheduled a hearing on human rights in Kashmir and other parts of South Asia on 22 October.

On 5 August, India revoked Article 370 of the Constitution removing special status to Jammu and Kashmir, evoking sharp response from Pakistan.

Pakistan expelled the Indian High Commissioner soon after deciding to downgrade diplomatic ties with New Delhi.

India has categorically told the international community that its move to scrap Article 370 of the Constitution was an internal matter and has also advised Pakistan to accept the reality.

(Published in an arrangement with PTI)

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