World

US: Congressional briefing on Kashmir held to promote pluralism in region

ANI | October 17, 2019 02:31 PM
Kashmiri women walk past an Indian security personnel during restrictions in the region

Washington DC [USA], Oct 17 (ANI): Indo-American Community Federation on Wednesday organised a congressional briefing at the Capitol Hill on Wednesday with an aim to promoting pluralism in Kashmir, as well as to reconnect and reintegrate the hearts and minds of the people living in the region.

The briefing, titled, 'Kashmir the Way Forward', was organised in collaboration with Kashmiri Overseas Association (KOA) and USINPAC and saw the participation of several congressmen, Chairman of House of Foreign Relation Committee, Elliot Enge, congressional staff, and a large number of Indian-Americans and Kashmiri Pandits.

Speaking on the occasion, Shakun Malik, the President of Kashmiri Overseas Association (KOA) talked about the plight of ethnically cleansed Kashmiri Pandits and the discrimination faced by Kashmiri women, minorities and weaker sections of society due to Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution.

Heart-wrenching personal stories by some victims of Kashmiri terrorism in 1990-1991 were shared by three Kashmiri Pandits: Swapna Raina, Archana Kokroo, and Scahin Koul. Jeff M Smith, a Research Fellow from Heritage Foundation, who has previously visited Kashmir, was touched by these stories and wondered why these accounts of genocide and ethnic cleansing had not been covered by the western press, while Pakistan's narrative about Kashmir has been getting wide press coverage.

Smith reiterated that the US views India's move to abrogate Article 370 as the country's internal matter.

Speaking on the occasions, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, who sponsored the event, emphasised that India and the US need to work together to strengthen their democracies.

Other attendees included C Shaykher, a renowned cardiologist from Florida, who spoke about misconceptions about Hindutva and touched upon the historic perspective of Kashmir with emphasis that Kashmiri Hindus have five thousand years of documented civilizational legacy.

SurinderKaul, the International Coordinator of Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora, stated that "the most dangerous framing of the issue in the US media reporting is fanning religious polarization with the use of the Hindu Muslim binary. The only binary that exists in Kashmir is that between Peace and Violence, the later introduced by the gun culture of the terrorists.

In the past few weeks, terrorists aided and abetted by Pakistan have killed four innocent people in cold blood and are making attempts to disrupt public harmony.

He made reference to a declaration of Jihad by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and condemned attempts to sanctify violence by him.

JeevanZutshi, who hosted the briefing event, emphasized that the way forward for Kashmir is to ensure that people of all religions, including minorities, live peacefully in Kashmir with justice, security and economic opportunities for all and hoped that US congress passes a resolution endorsing Kashmiri Pandit ethnic cleansing.

A brief video presentation about current life in Kashmir depicting gradual return to normalcy in Kashmir including business in hospitals and schools was also played at the event. (ANI)

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