SRINAGAR: Indian-American politician, Pramila Jayapal, 55, who has been critical of Delhi’s Kashmir policy and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was re-elected to the US House of Representatives for the third consecutive term. She is among the four (and possibly five) Indian-Americans who have made to the US parliament, so far.
“WOW, we did it decisively: 85% & 344,541 votes! Thank you #WA07. I am humbled, grateful & ready to serve again. Our path to truly build a more just & equitable country is long. But we are bold, progressive & unafraid, and if we believe in the possible & organize, we WILL win!” Jaipal tweeted after the results of her Washington berth were out.
Jayalpal who has been an Indian citizen for 35 years is a Chennai-born congresswoman of the Democratic Party. She defeated Republican Craig Keller in the seventh congressional district in Washington State by 70 per cent. With nearly 80 per cent of the vote, Jayapal, who has emerged as one of the top progressive lawmakers in the US Congress in the last four years, received 344,541 votes against just 61,940 for Keller.
She was the first Indian-American woman to be elected to the US House of Representatives in 2016. Besides that, she is the second Indian-American to have been declared elected to the House of Representatives. Raja Krishnamoorthi, also from the Democratic Party, also won easily from Illinois. As this report was filed Dr Hiral Tipirnen, another Indian American was leading from Arizona. If elected she would be the second Indian origin female to enter the US Congress.
Others who have won include Dr Ami Bera, and Ro Khanna. This is for the first time that the Indian-American community has emerged a major political force in American history. The USA has nearly 18 lakh voters who have Indian origins. The winning India origin politicians will strengthen, what is called the Congress’s Samosa caucus. However, the focus shall remain on senator Kamala Harris whom Joe Biden has taken as running mate, the Vice President.
Those trailing right now include Sri Preston Kulkarni, 42, in Texas. Republican Manga Anantatmula has already lost from Virginia so did Republican Nisha Sharma.
Of all the American politicians from Indian roots, it was Japayal who was quite reactive to the reading down of Article 370. She had introduced a resolution with colleague Steve Watkins to urge India “to preserve religious freedom for all and end communications blockade and mass detentions in Jammu & Kashmir”. The resolution had urged New Delhi to “uphold the democratic values” upon which the country was founded even as he expressed concern over the continuing tension and alleged human rights violations in the Valley post the revocation of Article 370 that provided for special status to the only Muslim-majority state.
Jayapal was in India when Article 370 was read down and had raised the issue of children being detained. “This is unacceptable …the detention without charges,’’ Jayapal said, in reference to the Public Safety Act. She had been vocal about the case of Dr Mubeen Shah, a businessman, who, she said was detained without an offence.
After Article 370 was read down she wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and urged him to press India to immediately end the communication blockade and release those who have been detained. Quoting her letter, Hindustan Times reported that, the September 11, letter to Pompeo urged “the Administration to press the Indian Government to immediately end its communications blackout of Kashmir, expedite the process of reviewing and releasing individuals ‘preventatively’ detained, ensure hospitals have access to life-saving medicines and protect the rights of the Kashmiri people to freedom of assembly and worship” reads the letter.
Tagging the letter in a tweet, Jayapal had said: “I continue to be deeply concerned about credible reports of a humanitarian crisis in Jammu & Kashmir. Even in complex situations, we look to strong democratic allies like India to uphold basic human rights and due process,” Hindustan Times reported. This Kashmir activism led the Foreign Minister Dr S Jaishanker refused to meet her when he flew for a meeting with the US lawmakers.