US Pressing India On Kashmir; Expresses Concern Over Continued Communication Blockade

Senior US diplomat Alice Wells has expressed concerns over the continued detentions of political leaders, residents besides the communication blockade in the region. 

Wells, the top US diplomat for South Asia, is due to undertake a visit to New Delhi for bilateral talks.

“Closely following US ambassador to India and other foreign diplomats’ recent trip to Jammu & Kashmir. Important step,” said the diplomat in a tweet on the US State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs official Twitter account.

“We remain concerned by the detention of political leaders and residents, and Internet restrictions,” the tweet continued. “We look forward to a return to normalcy.”

Earlier, a group of 15 senior diplomats, including the envoys of the US, Norway and South Korea, socialised with political leaders, civil society representatives, elected grassroots politicians and the media in Srinagar on Thursday.

According to reports, the envoys raises questions on the impact of the Indian government’s decision of repelling Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir and how Pakistan was meddling in the region.

The political leaders and others who met the envoys too communicated their long-standing demands – restoration of internet services, the release of all detained political prisoners, economic development, restoration of statehood and adequate safeguards for land ownership by locals.

This visit was expected to address some of the global community’s long-standing apprehensions about the situation in Kashmir. The presence of US ambassador Kenneth Juster in the group adds diplomatic heft to the exercise, especially since the Trump Administration has been calling for an end to the internet shutdown and the releasing of all political detainees.