Several US senators decried External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar's decision to not meet Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, owing to the latter's unflattering view of the Indian government's handling of the Kashmir issue.
From presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to Indian origin Congresswoman Kamala Harris who recently dropped out of the race for White House, Democrats stood beside Jayapal and criticised India for 'silencing' its critic.
Jaishankar was to meet members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which also included Jaipal, but he apparently told the chairman of the committee, Eliot Engel, that he will not meet the panel unless Jayapal is dropped off the panel. Engel refused to entertain the request as a result of which, the scheduled meet was cancelled at the last moment.
Harris, who dropped out of the Democratic presidential race early this month, however, backed her colleague in a tweet saying, "It's wrong for any foreign government to tell Congress what members are allowed in meetings on Capitol Hill." The first US Senator of Indian origin, Harris said she stands with Jayapal.
"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.
Democratic Presidential nominee Bernie Sanders also took to the microblogging site to condemn the move.
Shutting out U.S. lawmakers who are standing up for human rights is what we expect from authoritarian regimes—not the government of India. @RepJayapal is right. She must not be excluded for being outspoken about the unacceptable crackdown on Kashmiris and Muslims.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 20, 2019
Earlier in the day, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and a leading Democratic presidential candidate came out in support of Jayapal. Warren said the "efforts to silence" Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal "are deeply troubling".
She retweeted a report by The Washington Post which said that External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar refused to attend a meeting of House Foreign Affairs Committee members that included Jayapal.
Efforts to silence @PramilaJayapal are deeply troubling. The U.S. and India have an important partnership—but our partnership can only succeed if it is rooted in honest dialogue and shared respect for religious pluralism, democracy, and human rights. https://t.co/hx5H5Rpxqg
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) December 20, 2019
Jayapal, the first Indian American women to be elected to the House of Representatives, has introduced a resolution in the House on Kashmir. The pending resolution on Kashmir introduced by Jayapal in the House is not a fair characterisation of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told a group of Indian reporters on Thursday.
"I am aware of that (Congressional) resolution. I don't think it's a fair understanding of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir or fair characterisation of what the government of India is doing," Jaishankar said when asked if he asked for a meeting with Jayapal. "I have an interest in meeting people who are objective and open to discussion but not the people who already made up their minds," Jaishankar added.
Jayapal thanked Senators Harris and Warren for their support.
"We're rapidly entering a world where it's not only acceptable but encouraged for foreign governments to shun the president's domestic political opponents. This isn't a situation in which a coherent foreign policy can be developed," she said in another tweet on Friday.
Congressman Jim McGovern also came out in her support.
"No foreign government should dictate who is or isn't allowed into meetings on Capitol Hill," he said. "I stand with" Jayapal and "applaud" Congressman Eliot Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee "and others for doing the same," he said. "The partnership between the US and India must be grounded in open, honest conversation between friends," McGovern said.
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Updated Date: Dec 21, 2019 10:18:07 IST