New Delhi: Days after US President Donald Trump’s support for India’s stand on Kashmir, ThePrint has learnt that top American diplomats have on multiple occasions reached out to the Narendra Modi government in private, seeking information about the situation in the Valley and even expressed concern over detentions of political leaders and restrictions clamped in the region following the abrogation of Article 370.
Sources in the government said that questions on Kashmir came up during discussions with senior diplomats of the US, besides other countries. Not only US embassy officials, but also visiting American officials have sought information on Kashmir during their meetings with the Modi government, a source said.
The government has, however, made it clear to all the countries that Kashmir is an internal issue and all decisions are being taken depending on the situation there, a second source told ThePrint.
This source added that the government’s decisions related to Kashmir’s security are dependent on two objectives — maintenance of law and order, and prevention of loss of life — and this has been communicated to the US diplomats.
When asked about the US seeking information about Kashmir, an American embassy spokesperson told ThePrint he would not comment on internal diplomatic discussions.
The spokesperson, however, added, “We continue to be very concerned by reports of detentions and the continued restrictions on the residents of the region. We urge respect for human rights, compliance with legal procedures and an inclusive dialogue with those affected.”
Last month, Trump took everyone by surprise when he offered to mediate between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir dispute.
Weeks after Trump’s comments, the government on 5 August scrapped Article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and dismembered the region into two union territories.
Trump, however, changed his stance and said earlier this week that India and Pakistan can resolve differences over Kashmir bilaterally, and refrained from repeating his offer to mediate between the two countries.
“We spoke last night about Kashmir…and the prime minister really feels that he has the situation under control…I think they (India and Pakistan) can do it (resolve the issue) themselves,” Trump said on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in France.
No question of taking decision to please other countries
Government sources also told ThePrint that there is no question of taking any decision regarding detentions or easing of restrictions in Kashmir just to please other countries.
“All decisions are being taken keeping the local situation in hand. There is no question of taking a decision to please any X,Y or Z country,” a third source said.
Talking about detentions, the source said it is a dynamic situation in Kashmir.
“For example, the number of detainees vary by hour. Some would be taken into detention today and many others would be released. The same applies to other restrictions. Out of the 190-odd police stations in Kashmir, curfew-like situation has been removed in about 170,” the source added.
The source further said Indian embassies have been asked to regularly brief foreign countries about the actual situation in Kashmir.
India concerned over ‘one-sided’ reporting by foreign press
The third source quoted above said the Modi government is gravely concerned at the ‘one-sided’ reporting by the international media on Kashmir without taking into consideration the larger picture.
This kind of reporting has led to many countries wondering if the situation in the Valley is really troublesome.
The government has, therefore, asked the defence and security agencies to engage more with the foreign media, the source said.