Kashmir Hearing: Indian American Hindu organisations write to Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission
Indian-American Hindu organisations wrote to Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission prior to its hearing on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, urging the commission to recognise the unique security challenges faced by India in the region and the necessity behind its move to revoke Article 370 of its Constitution.
The written statement by Hindu American Foundation (HAF), Indo-American Kashmir Forum (IAKF), Kashmir Hindu Foundation (KHF), dating November 14, provided statement of facts highlighting the threat posed by cross-border terrorism and extremism in Jammu and Kashmir and how the decision to abrogate Article 370 would help the country in tackling these challenges.
"There is no greater threat to human rights and civil liberties than terrorism and radical extremism. Democratically elected governments and legislatures, independent judicial institutions and civil society groups cannot function as intended when faced with the constant threats of violence and murder against its citizens," the statement read."The situation in Jammu and Kashmir today is a direct product of cross-border terrorism from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan," it added.
The statement began by expressing disappointment over the commission choosing to hold the hearing on a short public notice of 48 hours, noting that the conventional advance notice of two weeks or more would have elicited a far wider response from potential expert witnesses, non-government organisations working in this field, as well as the wider public, thereby enriching the commission's fact-finding spirit.
It highlighted the ethnic cleansing of over 350,000 Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir valley back in 1989-1990. "The violent campaign targeting Kashmir's indigenous minorities in Kashmir was organised, systematic, and included massacres, rape, threats, and intimidation."
The statement urged the commission to recognise the unique security challenges faced by India in Jammu and Kashmir and address Pakistan's role as a state sponsor of terror.
The congressional hearing on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir was held yesterday at the Capitol Hill in Washington. Speaking at the hearing in favour of the Indian government's move to revoke Article 370, Kashmiri columnist and political commentator Sunanda Vashisht said that the revocation of the Article would help in solving the human rights situation in the region forever.
Vashisht noted that Kashmir witnessed a similar level of horror and brutality as inflicted by the Islamic State in Syria, prior to the time when the West and other international communities were apprised of the worst human rights situation in the Valley.
"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. "My people were given three choices by the terrorists: flee, convert or die on the same fateful night."