A top US official has urged the Indian government to released political leaders detained in Jammu and Kashmir, and called for regular access to the Union Territory for US diplomats. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells, who had come to India to participate in the Raisina Dialogue earlier this month, said she was pleased to see “incremental steps” in the UT, including the return of Internet services.
“On Jammu and Kashmir, I was pleased to see some incremental steps, including the partial return of internet service in Kashmir. And the visit by our ambassador and other foreign diplomats to Jammu and Kashmir is something that I know was extensively covered in the press. We see this as a useful step. We also continue to urge the government to permit regular access by our diplomats, and to move swiftly to release those political leaders detained without charge,” she told reporters at a special briefing in Washington, D.C.
Her comments came a day before the Centre restored Internet services in Jammu and Kashmir. Social media sites, however, remain restricted.
Speaking on the nationwide protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, Wells said, “The Act… is undergoing, I would say, a vigorous democratic scrutiny, whether it’s in streets, by the political opposition, media, or the courts. We continue to underscore the importance of the principle of equal protection under the law.”
Wells said India was moving away from having a passive foreign policy to one that is more “vigorous”. “It’s clear that India’s broadening strategic horizons over the past two decades have resulted in a shift away from a passive foreign policy to the one that advances Indian interests more vigorously,” she said.
With continued progress on defence cooperation, peacekeeping operations, space, counterterrorism, trade, people-to-people initiatives, and more, she said the quality and frequency of India-US naval cooperation, especially the information sharing, have reached unprecedented levels.
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