Institutions of democracy working in India: US official on Article 370

Institutions of democracy working in India: US official on Article 370

India’s institutions are working, including the Supreme Court which is examining the government’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, a top US official has said at a Congressional hearing during which concerns were raised over the humanitarian crisis and the human rights situation in Kashmir.

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells’ remarks came in response to a question by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar whether the US is committed to emphasising Kashmiri voices in determining the future of the Kashmiri people.

Wells said the US government would disagree with the Somali-origin lawmaker’s characterisation that the administration does not had a values based relationship with the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"I would just underscore that Prime Minister Modi came in consecutive terms. He achieved a majority vote in a very diverse,” she said.

"Just to provide the context. The actions he took were approved in Parliament, including by members of the Opposition, the Supreme Court is reviewing that decision. The high court is reviewing habeas corpus petitions. The institutions of India’s democracy are working,” she said.

Wells said the US absolutely believe that the voice of the Kashmiri people needs to be heard.

“Any restoration when there is restoration of a political, when there are a state assembly election, that’s the way for Kashmiris to be able to register their views also in peaceful assembly. So I think the concern over the restrictions on movement and what we’ve seen over the last 78 days is that that ability to protest peacefully has been difficult for Kashmiris to exercise,” Wells said.

India on August 5 abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir state into two Union Territories.

US lawmakers grilled Wells and Assistant Secretary for Human Rights, Robert Destro, on the continuing restrictions in Kashmir and whether and how the US is leveraging its relationship with India on easing up those restrictions that remain.

PTI

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