Members of Congress Urge India to Restore Communication in Kashmir
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, in the wake of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States, Representatives Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (CA-39), Judy Chu (CA-27), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), Gerald Connolly (VA-11), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Al Green (TX-09), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Andy Levin (MI-09), Mike Levin (CA-49), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), and Katie Porter (CA-45) issued the following statement urging Prime Minister Modi to lift the communications blackout and address humanitarian concerns:
“On behalf of thousands of families across the country who have been unable to contact family in Jammu and Kashmir, we are urging Prime Minister Modi to lift the communications blackout and address the ongoing humanitarian concerns. India is an important US partner and the world’s largest democracy. As such, we hope that the Government of India will demonstrate leadership and lift these restrictions. The people of Jammu and Kashmir deserve the same rights as any other citizen of India.
“We also remain concerned about the surge in attacks against religious minorities throughout India, including horrifying reports of lynchings, many influenced by Hindu nationalism, targeting Muslims, Christians and lower-caste Hindus. Most recently, we are disturbed to hear reports that Muslims in Kashmir have been prohibited from observing communal worship and celebrating their most significant religious holiday of the year. We urge Prime Minister Modi to make it clear that religious tolerance must be upheld.
“All people deserve to practice their religion freely, and all families should have the opportunity to communicate with loved ones.”
On August 5, 2019, India imposed a media blackout leaving millions in Jammu and Kashmir without access to mobile phones or the internet while many others have been held in “preventative detention” for over a month. As a result, family members in the United States and elsewhere have had no ability to contact loved ones in Jammu and Kashmir, leading to concerns about their welfare.
Rep. Cisneros is a Member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and an Executive Board Member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. He recently met with constituents in his district that brought this issue to light and has been supportive of the efforts to lift the media blackout in Kashmir.