NEW DELHI - A United States senator from the Democratic Party has claimed that the Indian authorities denied him permission to visit Occupied Kashmir when he expressed his willingness to visit Srinagar to assess the situation on the ground.

US Senator Chris Van Hollen said he wanted to visit Kashmir to see what was happening in the Valley, but was not given the nod by the Indian government. US Senator Hollen told The Indian Express in an interview that the Indian government told him that it was not the appropriate time to visit Kashmir.

On the purpose of his visit, Van Hollen said he wanted to see the situation on the ground in Kashmir. Hollen alleged that the India government did not want to see what was happening in Kashmir, where communications blackout continues. “My personal view is that if you have nothing to hide, there is nothing to fear by allowing visitors to the state,” he told The Indian Express.

He was also quoted as saying by The Washington Post that “as the world’s two largest democracies, India and the United States talk a lot about shared values and this was the moment where transparency was important”.

Chris Van Hollen says he wanted to visit Valley to see what was happening on the ground

Senato Chris Van Hollen, part of a US congressional delegation visiting India on trade and other issues, told reporters in New Delhi that the Indian government had denied his request to travel to Kashmir.

The Maryland Democrat said Washington was “closely monitoring the humanitarian situation” in Kashmir. The House Foreign Affairs Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on human rights in South Asia later this month, and Kashmir is expected to be a focus.

The Indian authorities, meanwhile, have not made a comment in connection with Hollen’s claims.

A well-known Indian activist was also barred from visiting Kashmir, where at least 10 people were injured Saturday in a grenade blast as a government security and communications lockdown entered a third month.

Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh said the blast was caused by an attack and occurred near the office of a civil administrator in southern town of Anantnag. He said that the injured included a police official and a journalist, and that all of the injuries were minor. No other details were immediately available.

Since removing several constitutional provisions that gave the state of Jammu and Kashmir semi-autonomy in August, Indian authorities have flooded the Kashmir Valley with thousands of additional troops.

Mobile internet and phone services have been snapped, and landline phone access remains spotty, disrupting daily life and business in the valley, home to about 7 million people. More than 2,000 people, including mainstream political leaders, are in jails around India or under house arrest.

Ram Madhav, a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the ruling Hindu nationalist party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said leaders under house arrest in Kashmir would be released soon, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

“Prevention detention in five-star hotels with good facilities with TVs and books and all those things is a temporary measure to ensure law and order in the state,” PTI quoted Mahdav as saying.

Sandeep Pandey, a well-known activist and education reformer, said he and other activists were barred from leaving the airport in Srinagar, where they had travelled Friday for an informal fact-finding mission. “We were held up and we don’t know what it was done,” Pandey said at a news conference Saturday in New Delhi.

The district magistrate restricted him from travelling beyond the arrivals lounge, citing a law that limits public gatherings, according to a copy of the order. The 54-year-old intended “to organise protests” against the constitutional changes in Kashmir, according to the order, a charge Pandey denied.

No foreign journalists have received permission from the Indian government to report in Kashmir since Aug. 5, although Indian citizens who work for foreign news organizations, including The Associated Press, have been able to report from the region.