Democratic presidential aspirants Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and two other US lawmakers have come out in support of Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, who claims External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar cancelled his meeting with a Congressional committee as she was invited to be a part of that group. Senators Sanders, Warren and other lawmakers tweeted on Friday to express their support for Jayapal, accusing Jaishankar and India of trying to silence the voice of a US lawmaker.
"Shutting out US lawmakers who are standing up for human rights is what we expect from authoritarian regimes - not the government of India. Jayapal is right. She must not be excluded for being outspoken about the unacceptable crackdown on Kashmiris and Muslims," said Sanders
On Friday, S Jaishankar said he has no interest in meeting Pramila Jayapal. He said her report on Kashmir is not a ‘fair understanding of situation in Jammu and Kashmir’ or ‘fair characterization of what the Govt of India is doing’.
Earlier, top Democratic Senator Kamala Harris came out in support of Jayapal Harris, who dropped out of the Democratic presidential race early this month in a tweet said, “It’s wrong for any foreign government to tell Congress what members are allowed in meetings on Capitol Hill.”
“I’m glad her colleagues in the House did too,” she said responding to a news report in The Washington Post which said that Jaishankar refused to attend a meeting of House Foreign Affairs Committee, because Jayapal was also scheduled to be present in that meeting along with other lawmakers.
Jaishankar, who is on visit to US for two-plus-two ministerial level talks, said he has no interest in meeting lawmakers who are neither objective nor open to discussion and have already made up their mind. “I am aware of that (Congressional) resolution. I don’t think it’s a fair understanding of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, or a fair characterisation of what the government of India is doing. And I have no interest in meeting (Jayapal),” Jaishankar told reporters.
On cancellation of her meeting with Jaishankar, Jayapal was quoted by Washington Post as saying, “This only furthers the idea that the Indian government isn’t willing to listen to any dissent at all. The seriousness of this moment should’ve been a reason for a conversation, not dictating who’s in the meeting, which seems very petty.”
Earlier, Pramila Jayapal brought a resolution urging India to lift all restrictions on communications in Jammu and Kashmir which were imposed following the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5.