A bipartisan US congressional caucus is once again set to hold a hearing on November 14 (1 am IST Friday) to examine the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir in the context of the region's history. The hearing is said to address the Valley's lockdown situation including restrictions on internet and communication. This will be the second congressional hearing after the Indian government abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories on August 5, which was effective as of October 31, 2019.
Addressing violations in the Valley
Announcing the same in a statement, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission said, "Witnesses will examine the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir in the context of the region's history..., and will offer recommendations for action by Congress." The hearing will be open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public, and the media.
The note also included a 2018 human rights violation report by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in "India and Pakistan-administered Kashmir" The OHCHR had "issued recommendations on a wide range of issues including civilian killings, deaths during security operations, blanket restrictions on journalists and independent observers, misuse of anti-terrorism legislation, and protection of religious minorities" in the region.
Panellists at the hearing
Congressmen and Co-Chairs of TLHRC, James P McGovern and Christopher H Smith, will host the event. The panellists include, Anurima Bhargava, Commissioner, US Commission on International Religious Freedom; Haley Duschinski, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Law, Justice and Culture, Ohio University; Sehla Ashai, Human rights lawyer Yousra Fazili, Human rights lawyer and Kashmiri-American cousin of Mubeen Shah, detained Kashmiri businessman; Arjun S Sethi, Human rights lawyer and Adjunct Professor, Georgetown Law John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch.
'Biased and One-sided hearing'
According to the congressional observers, the Co-Chairs Congressmen Christopher H Smith and James P McGovern announced the hearing without any prior notification and the panel chosen for the discussion is "loaded against India." The list of witnesses for the second panel released by the Human Rights Commission, which is a Democratic Party dominated bipartisan caucus of the US Representatives, this reflects that the Congressional hearing is all set to be biased and one-sided according to the observers. This the second hearing that comes after the blatant one-sided hearing last month on the situation of Jammu and Kashmir.