“There Is No India Without Kashmir”

Sunanda Vashisht also called for international cooperation in India’s fight against terrorism in Kashmir.

New Delhi/Washington: 

India has successfully defeated insurgencies in Punjab and Northeast and now it is time to strengthen New Delhi’s fight against insurgencies in Kashmir, columnist Sunanda Vashisht told a US Congressional hearing on Human Rights in Washington on Thursday. Ms Vashisht said international cooperation in India’s fight against terrorism in Kashmir will also solve the human rights problem in the state. 

“India’s democratic credentials are unmatched. The country has successfully, in a democratic setup, defeated insurgencies in Punjab and northeast. It is time to strengthen India against such insurgencies and the human rights problems will be solved forever,” Ms Vashisht told the hearing organised by Tom Lantos HR Commission. This is the second hearing by US Congress on Kashmir in the last three weeks. 

Ms Vashisht said that terrorists trained by Pakistan have been unleashing “ISIS level of horror and brutality” in the Valley much before the West was even introduced to the brutalities of radical Islamic terror. “I am glad these hearings are happening here today because when my family and everyone like me lost our homes our livelihood and our way of life the world remained silent,” Ms Vashisht told the gathering, mostly comprising of Democrats, who have been more vocal in their criticism after India revoked the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and split it into two union territories.

Ms Vashisht also questioned the silence of the world leaders when around 400,000 Kashmiri Hindus were forced to flee the Valley in the 1990s when Pakistan-backed terrorists started targeting the community.

“Where were the advocates of human rights when my rights were taken away? Where was the saviour of humanity when my feeble old grandfather stood with kitchen knives and an old rusted axe ready to kill my mother and I in order to save us from the much worse fate that awaited us?” she questioned further.

“All deaths have been happening due to terrorists trained by Pakistan. This doublespeak is not helping India in any way,” the columnist stressed before the gathering.

She called the international community to assist India in its fight against radical Islamist terror.

“Plebiscite in Kashmir is never going to happen,” she said.

A plebiscite requires the entire community to unite for a decision, but in this case, a part of Kashmir is in India, another in Pakistan, a part of it is also with China, Ms Vashisht added.

Sheila Jackson Lee, a Representative from Texas, in response to Ms Vashisht asked for a pathway to ensure human rights in the region. “We should try to find a pathway to at least do the basics to ensure human rights in the region. Why not allow the members of the US Congress to visit both parts of the Jammu and Kashmir– in India as well as Pakistan,” Lee said. 

A group of US lawmakers have expressed concern about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir amid security restrictions since August 5, when the government announced the end of special status to the state and split it into two union territories.

The lawmakers have called for the release of detained politicians and activists and an end to restrictions on communication and movement of people.

Terming the criticism as “regrettable”, India had said the comments reflected a very limited understanding of the country’s history and its pluralistic society.

With inputs from ANI and PTI

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