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Top Indian official canceled congressional meeting over inclusion of Jayapal: report

Top Indian official canceled congressional meeting over inclusion of Jayapal: report
© Greg Nash

India's external affairs minister called off a meeting with senior congressional members after the group of lawmakers refused to exclude Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history Rep. Adriano Espaillat tests positive for COVID-19 Overnight Health Care: Trump admin makes changes to speed vaccinations | CDC to order negative tests for international travelers | More lawmakers test positive after Capitol siege MORE (D-Wash.), who has been critical of India's policies in Kashmir.

During his trip to Washington this week, External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar was expected to meet with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelState Department sets up new bureau for cybersecurity and emerging technologies How Congress dismissed women's empowerment 2020: A year in photos MORE (D-N.Y.), committee ranking member Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulUS ambassador to Israel Twitter account briefly includes West Bank, Gaza Biden urged to reverse Pompeo-Trump move on Houthis Kremlin critic Navalny detained in Moscow upon return to Russia MORE (R-Texas) and other lawmakers, including Jayapal, The Washington Post reports.

Jayapal, a native of India, is currently sponsoring a resolution that urges India to lift restrictions on communications, restore the internet and preserve religious freedom for all residents in the contested region of Kashmir.

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When Engel refused to remove Jayapal from the delegation, Jaishankar reportedly pulled out of the meeting.

“This only furthers the idea that the Indian government isn’t willing to listen to any dissent at all,” Jayapal told the Post. “The seriousness of this moment should’ve been a reason for a conversation, not dictating who’s in the meeting, which seems very petty.”

Tensions in the already contentious region have been high since the summer when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi rolled back a special status that granted the region autonomy. 

According to internet advocacy group Access Now, Kashmir has been without internet for 134 days as of Monday, the longest ban of its kind enforced by a democratic state.