No interest in meeting Jayapal: Jaishankar

Last Updated 20 December 2019, 16:55 IST

India recently cancelled External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar's meeting with a group of United States lawmakers, as it included Pramila Jayapal, who introduced a bipartisan resolution in the American House of Representatives asking New Delhi to end restrictions on communication and arbitrary detentions in Jammu and Kashmir.

Jaishankar, who was on a visit to Washington D.C, said that he had “no interest in meeting” Jayapal. External Affairs Minister reacted to a report on Washington Post about the cancellation of the meeting and said that he was interested to meet people, who were “objective and open to discussion”, but not the ones, who had “already made up their minds”.

Jayapal, an Indian-American member of the US House of Representatives, said that the cancellation of the meeting showed the reluctance of the Government of India “to listen to any dissent at all”.

External Affairs Minister and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh were on a visit to Washington D.C. - primarily to attend the second India-America 2+2 dialogue with their US counterparts, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence Mark Esper.

Jaishankar separately also had a meeting with Chairman James E Risch and other members of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations during his stay in Washington D.C. He was also scheduled to have a meeting with Chairman Eliot L Engel and other members of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, including Jayapal.

The Washington Post reported that the officials of the Embassy of India in the US capital informed the Engel that Jaishankar “would not meet with the lawmakers if the group included Jayapal”, who introduced a resolution in the US House to call upon New Delhi to expeditiously release people and political leaders detained arbitrarily in the aftermath of the August 5 move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Government to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and reorganize the state into two Union Territories. The resolution, which has not been put to vote yet, also urges Government of India to “lift the remaining restrictions on communications and to restore internet access” in J&K, “refrain from the use of threats and excessive force” against detainees and peaceful protesters.

Engel turns down the request of the Embassy of India in Washington D.C. to drop Jayapal. The Government of India responded by calling off the proposed meeting.

Jayapal has been raising questions about New Delhi's August 5 move on J&K. India's ambassador to the US, Harsh Shringla, and other senior diplomats earlier had meetings with the Democrat Representative from Washington and explained to her that Government of India had to take certain measures in J&K in order to ensure good governance, peace and prosperity in the valley as well as to fight the menace of cross-border terrorism coming out from Pakistan. She, however, did not relent went on to introduce the resolution.

“I am aware of that resolution. I don't think it's a fair understanding of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir or a fair characterisation of what the Government of India is doing. And I have no interest in the meeting (Jayapal),” Jaishankar told journalists before concluding his visit to Washington D.C.

“The cancellation of this meeting was deeply disturbing. It only furthers the idea that the Indian government isn’t willing to listen to any dissent at all,” said Jayapal.

(Published 20 December 2019, 16:55 IST)

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