09:50 GMT +321 November 2019
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    Kashmiris walk to Jinab Sahib mosque for evening prayers in Anchar neighbourhood, during restrictions following the scrapping of the special constitutional status for Kashmir by the Indian government, in Srinagar, September 19, 2019

    Indian Envoy Briefs US Lawmakers on Kashmir Situation Behind Closed Doors

    Asia & Pacific
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): India’s Ambassador to the United States briefed American lawmakers on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the steps that have been taken by New Delhi to restore normalcy in the region after the restive state was stripped of its quasi-autonomous status in August.

    India’s envoy to the United States Harsh Vardhan Shringla brought US legislators up to speed on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the steps New Delhi has taken to restore order there. The restive Muslim-majority state was stripped of its decades-old special status in August and divided into two federally-administered districts amid a military lock-down. This enraged Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan, who asserted that India had violated United Nations mandates guaranteeing the region's partial self-rule. 

    Earlier this week, US Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan, after meeting with Pakistani leaders and a visit to the Pakistan-administered part of Kashmir, had called upon both Islamabad and New Delhi to take urgent steps to de-escalate tensions in the Kashmir region.

    Many Congressmen, who were not members of the Committee, also attended the briefing; the majority of them were Democrats.

    Shringla and other Indian diplomats in New York and its consulates in other parts of the United States have been reaching out to dozens of Congressmen and their aides after India's parliament scuttled Article 370 and 35A of the nation's constitution in August (which guarantees Jammu and Kashmir's status) to explain New Delhi’s standpoint.

    The Trump administration has also been mounting pressure on India to lift restrictions on Kashmir imposed shortly after New Delhi scrapped the state’s special status in early August. US President Trump also made several advances to mediate between India and Pakistan; however, the offer was emphatically rejected by New Delhi.

    New Delhi has lifted curbs imposed in Jammu and Kashmir, especially in the Kashmir Valley, gradually after a review of the situation. Lately, restrictions on post-paid mobile telephony were lifted. The government has also announced elections to local government bodies, which are scheduled for 24 October.

    Decades-old tensions between India and Pakistan dramatically escalated in February when a suicide bomber from the Pakistan-based group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) attacked a convoy of troops in Pulwama, Kashmir. Over forty Indian soldiers were killed in the attack, and in retaliation, the Indian Air Force carried out an aerial strike against an alleged JeM camp in Balakot, Pakistan.



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