Kashmir crisis to dominate Modi-Trump talks at G7
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump are set to meet at the G7 Summit in France on Monday, where Trump will reportedly press the Indian premier to lift a communications blackout in occupied Kashmir and show “utmost restraint”.
On August 5, Modi´s Hindu-nationalist government revoked the autonomy of the Muslim-majority territory where tens of thousands of people have been martyred in an uprising against Indian occupation since 1989.
New Delhi sent reinforcements to the estimated half a million troops already stationed in occupied Kashmir, cut phone lines and the internet, placed severe restrictions on movement and arrested thousands, according to multiple sources.
The turning of the disputed valley of seven million people into a fortress of barricades and barbed wire has not prevented protests and clashes with security forces taking place, however. India says no civilian has died from police action since August 5.
But residents have said at least three people have been martyred, including a young mother who choked after police fired tear-gas canisters into her home.
Multiple hospital sources have told AFP at least 100 people had been hurt during the lockdown, some with firearm injuries.
Authorities say they have been easing restrictions gradually but a delegation led by key opposition figure Rahul Gandhi was turned away at Srinagar airport on Saturday after flying in from New Delhi to assess the situation.
“It´s been 20 days since the people of Jammu & Kashmir had their freedom and civil liberties curtailed. Leaders of the Opposition and the Press got a taste of the draconian administration and brute force unleashed on the people when we tried to visit Srinagar yesterday,” Gandhi tweeted on Sunday.
Regional police chief Dilbagh Singh told AFP that Gandhi was turned back because in a situation “getting to normalcy” they wanted to avoid any “controversial statement”.
News reports have suggested there is unease in Washington at the Kashmir crisis, and that, at their talks later Monday on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Biarritz, Trump would press Modi on easing regional tensions and addressing human rights.
“India´s decision to rescind Article 370 in Kashmir is an internal decision, but certainly with regional implications,” the Indian Express quoted a US official as saying.
Trump “is likely to stress the need for dialogue among all sides of the conflict and his hope that India will lift the communications and movement restrictions in Kashmir and exercise utmost restraint in dealing with potential protests,” the official said.
India has insisted occupied Kashmir is purely an internal matter and that it does not want outside mediation, something the US president has offered.
“Any discussion on Kashmir, if at all warranted, will only be with Pakistan and only bilaterally,” Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar was quoted as saying on Friday