I have today written to the Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on behalf of my many Kashmiri constituents who have contacted me about recent disturbing events in Jammu and Kashmir.
I am gravely concerned by India’s unilateral decision to withdraw the region’s autonomy – by revoking Article 370 of India’s constitution – and to put the area into what is, in effect, military lockdown. As you will be aware, politicians have been put under house arrest, a curfew has been imposed and telecommunications and internet connections have been shut down. It is unclear exactly what India’s intentions are now beyond direct rule, but there is widespread anger at its decision, without any consultation, to remove the rights and devolved decision-making that have been enjoyed by the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
I have urged the Secretary of State to ask India to reverse the revocation of Article 370 and lift the curfew and other restrictions so that talks between all parties, including representatives of the Kashmiri people, can take place. I have also requested that this matter be referred to the United Nations Security Council given the potential threat to regional peace and security.
Ultimately, this crisis is a further consequence of the continuing dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir’s status. Ever since partition, the people of Kashmir have been denied the right to determine their own future, and this makes it even more important that the British Government, given its historic responsibility, and the international community make every effort now to end this crisis and enable the people of Kashmir finally to be given the opportunity they have waited so long for.