WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) today issued the following statement on the current conditions affecting residents in the disputed territories of Jammu and Kashmir in India. In addition to meeting with district constituents with family in the area, Smith also spoke with His Excellency Harsh Vardhan Shringla, India’s ambassador to the United States and reiterated the following position:
“I am continuing to monitor the situation regarding the government of India’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. There are legitimate concerns about the ongoing communications blackouts, increased militarization of the region, and enforcement of curfews.
“The constituents I met with all had family in Kashmir or Jammu. Some have visited the region since the change in Indian policy. They were afraid for their own lives, and terrified for the safety of their family members who remain in the region. They saw a region under siege with its residents isolated, without an ability to communicate at all outside of the region. The Indian government must take steps to reduce these fears and offer greater transparency for the world to see what is happening there.
“A commitment to the protection of basic human rights and equal rights, as well as recognition for the potential disparate impact of this decision on the region’s Muslim population and other minority groups – now and in the future – is imperative.
“This policy decision exacerbates an already tense environment in the region. I encourage both India and Pakistan to keep lines of communication open to prevent the further deterioration of the situation, and exercise restraint instead of engaging in rhetoric and actions that inspire extremist ideology.”