India speaks to U.S. lawmakers prior to human rights hearing

Team led by Ambassador Shringla explains Centre’s view With less than a week to go before a Congressional hearing on Human Rights in South Asia, India is exerting its diplomatic muscle on Capitol Hill to explain the government’s point of view on Kashmir to U.S. lawmakers. A team of five Indian diplomats, led by India’s Ambassador to the U.S., Harsh Vardhan Shringla, briefed members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday. The session was hosted by Congressman Brad Sherman, the Democrat who heads the Asia Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC). The same Subcommittee is holding Tuesday’s human rights hearing, which will include a discussion of the Kashmir valley, Tamils in Sri Lanka, the human rights situation in Pakistan, including Sindh Province, and the situation with Muslims in Assam (India’s finalisation of the National Register of Citizens). In addition to Mr. Sherman, the list of Members of Congress present at Mr. Shringla’s briefing included HFAC ranking member and Florida Republican Ted Yoho, California Democrat and Indian American Ami Bera, South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson, Virginia Democrat Abigail Spanberger, Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline and Texas Republican Pete Olson (who was present at the Howdy Modi diaspora rally in Houston last month). Pramila Jayapal, a Chennai-born progressive Democrat who has been vocal about the restrictions in Kashmir was not present. Her office told The Hindu there was a scheduling clash and that she was monitoring the situation in Kashmir and in touch with the Indian government. Ms. Jayapal also has a meeting scheduled with India’s Deputy Ambassador [Amit Kumar] later this week, her office said. On Wednesday, Mr. Shringla explained to Members that the curbs in Kashmir were put in place temporarily to save lives and no deaths had occurred (in clashes with security forces), a senior Indian official told The Hindu . Mr. Shringla offered to intervene and assist in situations where Members’ constituents could not contact their relatives.

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