Following the harrowing reports in the media about the situation in Kashmir Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central met with the Prime Minister, Raja Muhammad Farooq Haider Khan in Westminster on Wednesday 4 September to get a better understanding of the situation, and the impact this was having on the people living there
Their meeting followed the vigil held outside the Minster on Sunday 1st September where residents of York representing different faiths, considered the plight of people affected by the events in Kashmir. Ms Maskell, Cllr Danny Myers, the Leader of the Labour Group, and other leading members of the community also attended, including Sheikh Abid Salik of York Mosque and the Right Rev Dr Jonathan Frost, Dean of York Minster.
Tensions between in Indian-Administered Kashmir escalated when, on 5th August, President Modi of India issued a decree that revoked the rights guaranteed to the local people to have self-determination under Article 370 and Article 35A over land rights. The residents of Kashmir have been under house arrest since then and with a total news and communications blackout their families and friends have had difficulty establishing the safety of their loved ones, and access to food and medicine supplies are restricted. The situation for the residents is desperate. Reports are coming out of the area about shootings and torture including beatings with sticks and cables, as well as villagers receiving electric shocks.
Thousands of extra troops have been deployed and around 3,000 people including leading businesspeople and political leaders are believed to have been detained.
Ms Maskell said:
“I am deeply concerned for the lives and wellbeing of the citizens of the Indian-Administered region of Kashmir, it is a Human Rights Crisis, there has been a number of harrowing reports of women and children being raped and tortured. The Government said earlier this week that there was a ‘dispute’ in the region, where in reality, it is closer to ‘targeted genocide’.
“I have written to the Prime Minister, The Foreign and Home Secretaries and the High Commissioner of India urging them to take immediate action and to re-instate Article 370. The situation in Kashmir demands the urgent attention of the UK Government, and for action to be taken without delay, to protect the citizens of the region.
“On Wednesday, I had to the opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister of Azad Jammu Kashmir and we discussed our concerns and how essential it is for the British Government to act. With Parliament being prorogued this autumn, it has removed the opportunity for a full debate on the floor of Parliament, however I will continue to take every opportunity I can to raise this serious human rights crisis.”