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US Congress resolution on J&K clampdown

Topics Covered:

  1. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

US Congress resolution on J&K clampdown

What to study?

For Prelims: Overview of Articles 370 and 35A.

For Mains: Concerns over the present situation and ways to address these concerns.

 

Context: A resolution has been introduced in the US Congress urging India to swiftly end the communications clampdown, in place since August, in Jammu and Kashmir besides seeking the release political detainees in the region.

However, the resolution will not be put to vote in the Senate and does not have the force of law.

It was introduced by Indian-American Democrat Pramila Jayapal.

 

What the resolution demands?

The Indian government must quickly lift restrictions on cell phones and internet access, release arbitrarily detained people, protect free speech and peaceful protest, and condemn all religiously motivated violence at the highest levels across India.

It also states that house “rejects arbitrary detention, use of excessive force against civilians, and suppression of peaceful expression of dissent as proportional responses to security challenges.”

It also urges New Delhi to note the need to respect human rights and international humanitarian law in actions taken “in pursuit of legitimate security priorities.”

 

The resolution also proposes six steps including:

  1. Lifting restrictions on communication.
  2. Restoring internet access
  3. Releasing all “arbitrarily detained people”.
  4. Allowing international human rights observers and journalists access Jammu and Kashmir.

 

Implications of the resolution:

Since it has been introduced by an Indian-American, it will likely to attract attention in the US and outside.

 

What’s the issue?

On August 5, the Centre approved the dilution of Article 370 of the Constitutionand decided to carve out of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.

Internet restrictions and house arrests of various political leaders followed this. The continuing clampdown in most parts of Kashmir, and the absence of any worthwhile interaction between Kashmir and the outside world has prevented any realistic assessment of the situation.

 

International Criticisms:

There have been direct criticisms of India’s action in Kashmir by a majority of democratic governments in the West, and by quite a few other allies, including some possessing doubtful human rights antecedents such as Saudi Arabia.

  • There were equally many ‘lows’, with prominent leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressing their concern that “the situation for the people in Kashmir is not good and not sustainable”, and the UN Human Rights Commission affirming that it is “extremely concerned” that people in J&K continued to be “deprived of a wide range of human rights” and urging the Indian government to “unlock the situation and fully restore the rights that are currently being denied”.

 

Need of the hour:

India needs to win the battle of minds within the country before trying to justify itself in the eyes of the world.

  • It needs some urgent measures. The authorities will need to prepare for some degree of violence once the measures put in place are relaxed.
  • This is a time for healing, not for more confrontation. In Kashmir, what is needed today is a reassurance of democratic traditions rather than what cynics would refer to as a ‘bubble’, and a promise of vibrant economic opportunities while they worry about their freedoms.

As a very first step, normalcy needs to be restored by removing most of the impediments that exist at present, with the release of political leaders and as many of their followers as possible.

 

Sources: the Hindu.