In an unprecedented move, a US Congressman has apologised to Indian-Americans for not consulting them before writing a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to express his concerns on human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir after the Centre scrapped its special status.
Congressman Tom Suozzi, in a letter to Mike Pompeo, said the action by the government in Kashmir “risks provoking mass social unrest…”
“These new restrictions on the autonomy of the state and the rights of Kashmiris could also embolden extremists and terrorists to act,” Tom Suozzi said in his letter.
Upset by the letter, several Indian-Americans, who constitute a significant part of Tom Suozzi’s Congressional District in New York and had played a key role in his election and fund raising, shot him several angry messages.
About 100 Indian community members have demanded that he withdraw his letter.
“On Sunday, I met with 100 of my Indian-American constituents regarding my recent letter to Secretary Pompeo expressing my concerns about recent developments in Kashmir.”
“Based upon my meeting it is clear that it was a mistake to not consult with some of my Indian-American friends and supporters before I sent the letter. I should have. I am sorry. If I had met with them before sending the letter, I would have framed my concerns differently,” Tom Suozzi said in a statement.
He said that throughout his career in public service, he has been an ardent supporter of India, their sovereignty, and have always stood with them in their fight against terrorism.
The US-India relationship will be one of the most important over the next 50 years and beyond, he said, adding that he has spent his time in Congress promoting and elevating this relationship and will continue to do so.
“India, the world’s largest democracy, remains critical for regional security and peace. The current situation in Kashmir presents some very serious challenges. The US should seek to be helpful in securing safety and peace for all people,” he said.
“Moving forward, I will make sure to solicit the input of all of my constituents who have a vested interest in Kashmir and work towards a peaceful region that roots out terrorism and corruption as well as respects human rights. It is my hope that recent developments in the region will eventually lead to this,” he added.
Indian Americans have said Tom Suozzi’s statement was a step in the right direction and sought a follow up letter from him to Mike Pompeo.
“It is a statement in the right direction. If any letter is requited, Congressman Suozzi needs to write to Secretary Pompeo about the nefarious actions of Pakistan and asking for decisive and irreversible action against terrorist organisations,” Jagdish Sewhani, the President of the American India Public Affairs Committee said.