NEW YORK    -   US Senator Elizabeth Warren became the second presidential candidate of the Democratic party to voice concern over situation in the Indian occupied Kashmir which has been under a military lockdown since August 5, when New Delhi abrogated the disputed state’s special status.

“The US-India partnership has always been rooted in our shared democratic values. I’m concerned about recent events in Kashmir, including a continued communications blackout and other restrictions,” Ms. Warren, who supports progressive causes, said in a tweet that represents growing disquiet in the US Congress over the crisis in occupied Kashmir.

“The rights of the people of Kashmir must be respected,” she added. Ms. Warren is a leading candidate for the party’s nomination, having surged in polls in recent weeks to overtake fellow senator Bernie Sanders.

She is now second to former vice president Biden, trailing the frontrunner 24% to 26.2% in the RealClearPolitics aggregate of polls.

The statement from Ms. Warren, a fierce critic of President Donald Trump, comes a month after Senator Sanders expressed similar concerns and called India’s lockdown on Kashmir “unacceptable”.

Addressing the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in Houston early last month, Senator Sanders had said he was “deeply concerned” about the situation in Kashmir and asked the US Government to “speak out boldly” in support of a UN-backed peaceful resolution to the issue.

Senator Sanders again invoked Kashmir during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US last month. In an op-ed for a local newspaper, he criticised Trump’s “deafening silence” on the clampdown in the state, the same day the US President shared stage with Modi at the ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event in Houston, Texas.

“I know that when a president stays silent in the face of religious persecution, repression and brutality, the dangerous message this sends to authoritarian leaders around the world is, ‘Go ahead, you can get away with it,’ Sanders wrote in the Houston Chronicle.

Ms. Warren’s tweet on Kashmir also came close on the heels of a Democratic senator, Chris Van Hollen, telling the Washington Post in New Delhi on Friday that he had been denied permission by the authorities to visit Kashmir. “If the Indian government has nothing to hide, they should not worry about people visiting Kashmir and witnessing the situation with their own eyes,” he had said.

Last week, trailblazing US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the blockade on communication and life-saving medical care in occupied Kashmir “must end” as she expressed support for the people of the disputed territory.