US lawmakers seek access of foreign journalists to IOK

Washington, October 26 (KMS): The US Congress has demanded answers from Indian Ambassador to the US, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, regarding the current grim situation in occupied Kashmir.

Six members of the US Congress, David Nicola Cicilline, Dina Titus, Chrissy Houlahan, Andy Levin, Susan Wild and James Patrick McGovern have written a letter to the ambassador asking follow-up questions to a congressional briefing on Kashmir.

On October 16, House Foreign Affairs Committee was briefed by Shringla, who updated them about the situation in the occupied territory. The Congress members noted that the update by Shringla is different to what their constituents have painted a picture of the territory. “We believe true transparency can only be achieved when journalists and members of congress are allowed free access to the region. We encourage India to open Jammu and Kashmir to both domestic and foreign journalists and other international visitors in the interest of open and increased communication,” the Congress members said.

The members have raised several questions regarding occupied Kashmir. In their letter, the members said that they have heard that Indian government is using rubber bullets on protesters, which has caused the demonstrators to be blind. “Can you confirm whether there are known cases of protesters being blinded by rubber bullets, including the number of children? Are rubber bullets still being used for crowd control? What is the Indian government doing to ensure rights of peaceful protesters?” the members asked.

They have raised concern on whether the internet and landline services have been restored in the region and if not when will the Indian government restore the connections. They have also questioned how many people have been detained since August 5 and whether the detained includes minors.

Speaking about the curfew imposed in occupied Kashmir, the congress members asked, “What is the government’s plan to allow residents to return to uninhibited movement. When can we expect that?”

The Congress members also questioned the ban on foreign journalists from visiting the valley and have demanded answers as to when will the government allow journalists to visit. Will the Indian government welcome visiting members of the United States Congress or other foreign officials who wish to visit Jammu and Kashmir? the lawmakers asked.

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