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Home / India News / ‘Swiftly’ release political prisoners in Kashmir, US urges Indian government

‘Swiftly’ release political prisoners in Kashmir, US urges Indian government

Alice Wells, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia said that the US continued to “urge the government to permit regular access by our diplomats, and to move swiftly to release those political leaders detained without charge”.

india Updated: Jan 25, 2020 23:56 IST
Yahwant Raj
Yahwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
A woman walks past Indian soldiers near the site of a gun battle between suspected terrorists and security forces at Bathen village in south Kashmir's Awantipora.
A woman walks past Indian soldiers near the site of a gun battle between suspected terrorists and security forces at Bathen village in south Kashmir's Awantipora.(Photo: Reuters)

The United States has called upon India to “swiftly” release political leaders being held in Kashmir and grant “regular” access to its diplomats to the area even as it also acknowledged measures taken by the Indian government towards the normalisation of the situation in the Valley.

“I was pleased to see some incremental steps, including the partial return of internet service in Kashmir,” Alice Wells, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, told reporters at a briefing about her recent visit to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka on Friday.

She said the recent visit of foreign diplomats to the region, which included American envoy Ken Juster, was a “useful step”. She added that the US continued to “urge the government to permit regular access by our diplomats, and to move swiftly to release those political leaders detained without charge”.

While the US has acknowledged the August 5 nullification of Article 370, which revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and was followed by restrictions, as an “internal matter” of India, it has appealed to the Indian government to “rapidly” restore normalcy in Kashmir with special stress on the release of political leaders and restoration of internet and communication services.

US President Donald Trump said earlier this week in Davos that the US was “watching” the situation in Kashmir in relation to India-Pakistan relations. With Prime Minister Imran Khan by his side, the American president had also offered to “help” resolve the India-Pakistan dispute.

India has maintained that the Kashmir issue can only be resolved bilaterally and that there is no room for the involvement of a third party. It has also said that the nullification of Article 370 is an internal matter of the country.

The restrictions in place in Kashmir since August 5 have also drawn the attention of an increasing number of US lawmakers, especially Democrats. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who are running for president, have been critical of them.

The United States has continued to keep a close watch on the situation in Kashmir. “Closely following @USAmbIndia & other foreign diplomats’ recent trip to Jammu & Kashmir,” Wells had said in tweet posted by her department on the visit of foreign diplomats to Kashmir. “Important step. We remain concerned by detention of political leaders and residents, and Internet restrictions. We look forward to a return to normalcy.”