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Posted at: Aug 11, 2019, 12:09 PM; last updated: Aug 11, 2019, 5:33 PM (IST)

Indian-Americans up in arms against Congressman over Kashmir remark

Indian-Americans up in arms against Congressman over Kashmir remark
A Kashmiri boy walks past the graffiti written on the shutters of closed shops during restrictions in Srinagar. Reuters file

Washington, August 11

Indian-Americans are up in arms against Democratic Congressman Tom Suozzi who has asked US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to make Kashmir a major focus of the Trump Administration.

In a letter dated August 9, Suozzi alleged that the action by the Indian government "risks provoking mass social unrest..." 

"These new restrictions on the autonomy of the state and the rights of Kashmiris could also embolden extremists and terrorists to act,” wrote Suozzi, who represents the 3rd Congressional District of New York.

Indian Americans, who constitute a significant large number in the 3rd Congressional District of New York, have played an important role in the election of Suozzi, 56. In the previous election cycles, Indian Americans not only campaigned for him, but also voted and raised significant amount of fund for his Congressional elections.

"We Indian Americans are very upset with Congressman Suozzi. We are demanding that he withdraws his letter written to Secretary Pompeo. Kashmir is an integral part of India and it is India's internal matter. He or the US has no right to interfere in India's internal affair," said Jagdish Sewhani, the President of the American India Public Affairs Committee.

In fact, after Suozzi's letter to Pompeo became public and appeared on the social media, the Congressman's local office was flooded with a large number of phone calls from agitated Indian Americans who not only sought an explanation but also urged him to withdraw the letter.

Feeling the heat, Suozzi has scheduled a meeting with representatives of the Indian American community on Sunday.

"Congressman Tom Suozzi would like to meet with his friends in the Indian American community to listen to their concerns regarding India and the region, receive your input so that he can have a balanced view of the situation. He welcomes a candid dialogue on this matter," said a message sent to the community leaders Saturday evening.

Indian-American from New York Ravi Batra said that Congressman Suozzi's letter to Pompeo is "silly pandering with a few angry constituents rather than serving 'best interests' of USA." 

America's best interest, Batra said, are "being friends of the sub-continent, making it terror-free and support enhanced peace and security."

 In his letter, Suozzi asked Pompeo "to let me know as soon as possible what actions our government intends to take and please advise if l may be of any assistance."

The Indian government revoked Article 370 which granted special status for Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the border state into two Union Territories on Monday. —PTI

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