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Jayapal criticizes Indian official for refusing to meet her: It's 'a sign of weakness'

Jayapal criticizes Indian official for refusing to meet her: It's 'a sign of weakness'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalInequality of student loan debt underscores possible Biden policy shift Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks MORE (D-Wash.) is hitting back after reports India's foreign minister declined a congressional meeting she was slated to attend, with the lawmaker calling the move a "sign of weakness." 

It was reported last week that Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar was slated to meet with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, but refused to do so because Jayapal was part of the group. 

Jayapal, who was born in India, is the sponsor of a bipartisan resolution urging the country to end communications restrictions and mass detentions in the Jammu and Kashmir regions. 

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She wrote in a Washington Post op-ed Monday that she was told that the resolution was the reason Jaishankar refused to meet her. 

"It is wholly inappropriate for any foreign government to try to dictate which members of Congress participate in meetings on Capitol Hill," the lawmaker wrote.

"It’s also a sign of weakness for any great democracy to refuse to allow those who have some criticisms to participate in a meeting — a giant missed opportunity for two countries that value dialogue and dissent," Jayapal added. 

She wrote that the U.S. must "advocate for human rights around the world."

"As a member of Congress and as an Indian American, I will continue to speak out on fundamental principles of democracy such as freedom of the press, religious freedom and due process. Protecting these rights — particularly in the most difficult of circumstances — is the only way democracies can survive and thrive," the lawmaker concluded 

The Indian government has recently taken actions that have alarmed its Muslim population, including removing mentions of historical Muslim rulers from state-issued textbooks and revoking statehood for Jammu and Kashmir, the country's one Muslim-majority state.

Earlier this month, the country's parliament passed a law that would give special treatment to Hindu and other non-Muslim migrants, sparking protests.