'US concerned over detention of leaders'

'US concerned over detention of leaders'

State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus (AFP Photo)

The United States has expressed concern over the detention of political leaders in Kashmir and called upon New Delhi to respect individual rights, while it took note of India's statement that its latest move on its northernmost state was an “internal affair”.

“We are concerned about reports of detentions (in Kashmir) and urge respect for individual rights,” Morgan Ortagus, the spokesperson of the US State Department, said in a statement issued in Washington D.C. The US also urged India to hold discussion with “affected communities”, subtly suggesting that New Delhi should have taken the leaders and the people of Jammu and Kashmir into confidence before stripping the state of its special status and reorganizing it into two Union Territories.

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he US statement came as Pakistan Government stepped up its effort to seek interventions by President Donald Trump's administration in the wake of New Delhi's move to strip J&K of its special status.

Trump recently claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to mediate between India and Pakistan to help resolve the issue of Kashmir. Though New Delhi refuted Trump's claim, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday once again sought the US President's intervention, warning that India's aggressive actions along the Line of Control had the potential to blow up into a regional crisis.

The US, however, tried to strike a balance between its ties with India and Pakistan. While it almost echoed Pakistan's concern on the detention of leaders in Kashmir by the security forces of India, it also took note of New Delhi's assertion that its latest move was an “internal” affair.

“We note that the Indian Government has described these actions (revising the constitutional status of J&K and splitting the state into two UTs) as strictly an internal matter,” said the spokesperson of the US State Department. The US is closely following the events in J&K, said Ortagus, adding: “We call on all parties to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control”.

The senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs briefed several foreign envoys based in New Delhi on Monday and Tuesday, explaining that Modi Government's latest move on J&K was an “internal” affair and intended to ensure “good governance” in the State.

New Delhi started reaching out to the key foreign nations after Prime Minister Imran Khan's Government in Islamabad already indicated that Pakistan would once again step up efforts to internationalize its dispute with India over Kashmir, in the wake of the latest move by Modi Government.

The United Arab Emirates on Tuesday extended support to India. “The reorganisation of states is not a unique incident in the history of independent India and it was mainly aimed at reducing regional disparity and improving efficiency. It is an internal matter as stipulated by the Indian Constitution,” Dr Ahmad Al Banna, the UAE's ambassador to India, said in New Delhi.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe too posted on Twitter, endorsing New Delhi's stand that reorganisation of the state was an “internal” affair of India.

“Ladakh will become an Indian State. With 70% of Ladakh’s population being Buddhist it will be the first Indian state with a Buddhist majority. Creation of Ladakh and consequential restructuring is India’s internal matter, it is a beautiful region well worth a visit,” Sri Lankan PM tweeted.

Ladakh is going to be a Union Territory without a legislature after the reorganisation of J&K, with the rest of the state becoming another Union Territory with a legislature. Wickremesinghe, however, mistakenly mentioned the proposed Union Territory of Ladakh as a State.

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