‘Have No Interest In Meeting Her’: S Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday (20 December) announced the cancellation of a meeting with US lawmakers because he objected to the participation of Pramila Jayapal, an Indian-American Representative who has on several occasions taken anti-India positions.

Jaishankar was scheduled to meet House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel, Michael McCaul, the Republican Party leader on the panel, Jayapal, who is not a member of the committee, and others to discuss the Kashmir situation.

Indian officials told the committee that Jaishankar would not meet them if Jayapal was included in the group.

However Chairman Engel refused to exclude Jayapal from the group and Jaishankar cancelled the meeting.

Jayapal has introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives asking India to end the so-called communications blockade and the "mass detentions" in the Kashmir.

She had also criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the RSS at a hearing on Kashmir held by the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific in October.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar cancelled a meeting with US lawmakers this week after they declined to exclude Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal from the team that was to meet him, according to a Washington Post report.

Jayapal, the Indian-American Congresswoman, has relentlessly focused on Kashmir for some time and is playing a lead role in pushing a resolution that asks India to end all communications restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir.

Co-sponsored by Republican Steve Watkins, Jayapal, 54, the only Indian-American Congresswoman in the House of Representatives, introduced the resolution that nudges India to lift the communication clampdown, release political detainees and “preserve religious freedom for all residents” in Jammu and Kashmir.

India believes that this resolution does not reflect the steps that the government had taken in Jammu and Kashmir that was split into two union territories. New Delhi cites security challenges including cross border terrorism emanating from Pakistan as the key defence of the controversial restrictions imposed in Kashmir after the erstwhile state’s special status was revoked on August 5.

External Affairs Minister Jaishankar who is wrapping up his visit for the second India-US 2+2 ministerial dialogue in Washington, was to meet the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot L Engel and others. But Indian mission cancelled the meeting after the lawmakers did not accept the request.

Jaishankar told reporters that said he was aware of the draft resolution sponsored by Pramila Jayapal. “I don’t think it is a fair understanding of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir or fair characterisation of what the Indian government is doing.I have no interest in meeting her,” he said, according to news agency ANI.

Asked if he treated the resolution seriously, Jaishankar elaborated: “I have an interest in meeting people who are objective and open to discussion but not the people who already made up their minds”.

She alleged that religious minorities in India were in danger and felt threatened.

Pramila Jayapal reacted to the Washington Post report about Jaishankar cancelling the meeting, calling it “deeply disturbing”.

“It only furthers the idea that the Indian government isn’t willing to listen to any dissent at all,” she tweeted.