Capitol Hill Kashmir Briefing

Washington DC (USA) June 09, 2009
The International Kashmir Federation (IKF) hosted a briefing on June 9, 2009 on Capitol Hill on the decades long violence in Kashmir. The briefing was co-hosted by Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and co-sponsored by United States India Political Action Committee (USINPAC), National Federation of Indian Associations (NFIA), Indo American Community Federation (IACF) and United Hindu Front (UHF), leading Indo-American organizations representing 2.5 million Indians living in the U.S.

With a capacity crowd in attendance, Congressional staffers, the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom and media heard panelists from leading NGOs speak of the geo-political implications on Kashmir of the Taliban's gaining control in Pakistan as well as the religious cleansing of the minority Hindu population from India's state of Jammu and Kashmir (J & K) by Pakistan-sponsored jihadi terrorists.

"The results of a radical ideology that Pakistan first embraced and is now suffering from on a daily basis -- attacks by the Taliban on government personnel, hotels, shopping centers and civilians, and the shutting down of schools and strict imposition of Shariah law in the areas where it has gained control -- are clear today," said Jeevan Zutshi, International Kashmir Federation (IKF)'s Chairman. "It's the same ideology that has fueled radical Muslims in militant training camps in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Islamist extremists in J & K for nearly six decades."

In a unanimous resolution passed after the Capitol Hill briefing on 'Cross-Border Terrorism in Kashmir and the Hindu (Pandit) Victims: Challenges and Solutions' they urged the Obama Administration to make sure that "the American military aid to Pakistan should not be used against India."

"The US must make Pakistan accountable in its fight against Taliban. India must support Pakistan in this fight as well," the resolution said.

"India must warn all foreign terrorist s of dire consequences of their barbaric acts and eliminate the terrorist camps in the neighboring countries and agencies that support these illegal adventures," it said.
The resolution moved by Jeevan Zutshi from International Kashmir Federation and supported by all members attending the briefing urged Obama Administration to put pressure on Pakistan to reform its education system and school syllabus that teaches hatred of non believers of Islam.

Dr. Vijay Sazawal, a Kashmir policy analyst, stressed that it was Pakistan's ideological obsession with the region, specifically Kashmir that has resulted in neglect in areas of development and education throughout the rest of Pakistan.

Deepak Ganju of Shehjar magazine and Founding member of IKF, asked pointedly how one could ever become a refugee in one’s own country and yet not receive justice from the Government or elsewhere. He blamed extreme violence and terrorism sponsored by Pakistan for the mass exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from Kashmir in 1989-90. A short film titled "Lost Paradise" was shown depicting the plight of Hindu Refugees in Camps in Jammu (India)

He further said, “After the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Kashmiri Hindus from the valley, the few that remained became targets for mass massacres, as at Sangrampora (1997), Prankot (1998), Wandhama (1998) and Nadimarg (2003). Human rights organizations, policy makers and political parties have failed to express any serious concern at this great human tragedy. More than 60,000 innocent lives including those of Hindus, nationalistic Muslims and Sikhs have been lost.”

Deepak Ganju and Jeevan Zutshi of IKF moved IKF resolution, which stated:

    • Be it therefore resolved that India must continue to pay attention to the needs of Kashmiri Hindus (Pandits) who have become refugees in their own country and address their following concerns and issues:
    • Redress the wrongs done to the community by the wide spread and grave violations of the fundamental and human rights, guaranteed by the Constitution of India;
    • Take measures to retrieve the community from the present state of devastation, distress, Economic deprivation and social disorganization brought to it by its uprootment from its Homeland;
    • Measures to protect their properties, temples and institutions in Kashmir plundered, burnt, destroyed, fraudulently usurped or grabbed through distress sales and bringing to an end the marginalization of the Kashmiri Hindus by the State Government & Administration;
    • Address the question of the social, political and economic aspirations of the community, which must be considered as an indispensable component of any future settlement on Kashmir;

Kartikeya Tanna, a bright young attorney who articulated the youth point of view about the inherent need for preservation of roots and a homeland for the young Kashmiri Pandit youth, represented International Kashmir Federation (IKF) youth wing. Neha Ganju, a graduate student at George Washington University represented IACF youth wing and helped with audio/visual and overall coordination of the event.

Kartikeya Tanna, in his well researched speech, spoke about a scant and unheeded attention given to the plight of Kashmiri Pandits in the valley, both by the media and various governments at the centre and the state, the incessant brainwashing, in other words ideological indoctrination, has determined the beliefs dangerously and irrationally held by a huge spectrum of innocent Muslims belonging to the vexed State of J&K. The political and administrative alienation owes its origin to a combination of an unforeseen execution of the constitutional impediment known as Article 370, the forced exodus of hundreds of thousands of Hindus resulting in automatic underrepresentation and a stark tendency on part of state leaders to "majoritize" the Muslim leadership due to various reasons. This issue, though one purely internal to India, has resulted in a situation where if a plebiscite were to take place in the near future as was agreed in the UN resolutions way back, the ideological sweep and the political alienation deprives Hindus of their basic fundamental rights which inevitably helps the claim of our neighboring country. President Obama's seriousness in inspecting the use of every cent of financial aid given to Pakistan is a very assuring promise; I am in the hope that the United States, widely seen as the greatest torch-bearer in protection of fundamental rights, ensures that the beneficiary of this financial aid is not found committing gross violations of such rights by a carefully planned alienation of the Hindus from the State of J&K

"A cause for major concern is President Obama's recent promise made in Cairo last week for another $1.2 billion aid each year for the next several years to Pakistan -- this too after Congressional acknowledgment of the poor accounting and misappropriation of $12 billion already provided to Pakistan by the U.S.," said Ishani Chowdhury, HAF's Director of Public Policy. "Our demand, as Hindu Americans and U.S. taxpayers, is that any aid mandate greater oversight and strict accountability so that U.S. taxpayer dollars are used by Pakistan in fighting the ongoing battles against the Taliban and improving the lives of Pakistanis, rather than continuing its six decade long cross-border, proxy war against India."

The HAF and IKF committed to further collaborative efforts in highlighting the human rights and terror implications over Kashmir and will follow the briefing with Congressional visits to inform American policy makers of the region.

Samyuktha Shenoy from the United States India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) urged the US Government to insist on immediate and tangible progress from Pakistan, including elimination of cross border terrorism, dismantling of all terror training camps, and verifiable evidence of bringing the perpetrators of terror to justice. Stating the views of USINPAC she further said, "Any future aid from the US should be conditional to Pakistan's demonstration of tangible steps to eliminate the sources of global terror."

Maharaj Kaul, a writer and author from Sufferin, NY unable to attend the briefing, in his written speech submitted to attendees, stressed that "With Obama Administration firmly dealing with Pakistan on Taliban and Al Qaeda it is only logical that it pick up the Kashmir Terrorism at the same time. This is because all the three terrorisms come from the same fabric. Controlling the two and not controlling the third can lead to the weakness of the former. The government of Pakistan and its people have to learn that all forms of terrorism are bad and unacceptable to the world community."

Dr. Rajen Anand National Federation of Indian Associations (NFIA) talked about the 'Washington Chalo" efforts by Indian American Task Force earlier this year which led to a massive campaign to denounce terrorism stemming from Pakistan. He urged everyone to write a letter to their Senators strongly urging them to link the proposed foreign aid to Pakistan on the condition of its elimination of all terrorist training camps in that country. "Without this condition, no foreign aids should be granted to Pakistan, for it is likely to enhance terrorist attacks throughout the world and no country will be safe. Communicate to your lawmakers as US citizens, for it is our tax money that will be going to Pakistan. More letters reach these Senators, the greater will be the effectiveness. Tell your friends to write letters to their respective Senators", Rajen said.

All the speakers at the briefing: From left Kartikeya Tanna (IKF Youth), Samyuktha Shenoy (USINPAC), Ishani Chowdhary (HAF), Jeevan Zutshi (IKF), Deepak Ganju (Shehjar), Dr. Rajen Anand (NFIA) and Dr. Vijay Sazawal.

From left Arish Sahani (VP-IAIF), Satya Nemana (HHRW), Jeevan Zutshi (IKF), Deepak Ganju (Shehjar), and Narain Kataria (President-IAIF)

Speakers Bio's

Kartikeya Tanna
Kartikeya works in the Mergers & Acquisitions Group at the Washington D.C. law offices of Jones Day. In 2004, Kartikeya attained a Bachelor of Commerce degree from India where was the Debate Secretary in the first year and the General Secretary in the final year and was actively involved in various student activities. He obtained the LL.B. degree from King’s College London in 2007 where his notable achievements include being one of the oralists in the King's College London mooting team that finished Second Place Finalist at the international rounds of the Philip Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in 2007 in Washington D.C. He attained the 19th rank in the top 100 oralists and was 2nd highest ranked British oralist in the international rankings. The team also won the U.K. national rounds held in February, 2007. In 2008, he obtained the LL.M. degree from George Washington University where he was a Justice Thomas Buergenthal scholar.

Kartikeya is also a licensed Indian attorney and a partner at Tanna Associates Advocates, a family law firm in the state of Gujarat in Western India. Kartikeya has an active interest in international political affairs, global financial developments and writing. He has been a co-author for five articles that include topics like the subprime mortgage crisis, the global and US economy and corporate governance standards for India in the wake of the Satyam scandal.

Dr. Vijay Sazawal
Dr. Vijay K. Sazawal is a founding member (1991) of the Indo-American Kashmir Forum (IAKF) and served twice as its President. Dr. Sazawal works closely with religious minorities of Jammu and Kashmir, and has addressed the plight of Kashmiri minorities in meetings with members of Congress and the media. He has made numerous presentations at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the Asia Society. He has also made provided testimony in the hearings held on Kashmir by the U.S. Congress and the British Parliament.

Dr. Sazawal has authored numerous articles, in American and Indian publications, discussing various aspects of the Kashmir issue with particular emphasis on local politics within the Kashmir valley. He is a frequent commentator on the Voice of America (VOA) Urdu programs beamed to South Asia.

Dr. Sazawal and his wife were born and raised in Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir. He received his doctorate in Engineering in 1975, and is currently a program director in a global energy company. He lives with his family in Maryland.

Dr. Rajen Anand
Rajen Anand is currently serving the chair of the National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA), an umbrella organization comprising of over 200 associations of Indians Americans who trace their roots to India. A faculty member at the California State University in Long Beach for the last three decades, Dr. Anand was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as the Executive Director, USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), Washington DC and served there from 1995-2001. He has received several honors such as Outstanding Professor Award, Outstanding Student Award, Meritorious Performance Award etc. A political activist, Anand has been a member of the California Democratic Party Executive Board for 4 years and chair of its Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus for 2 years. He has been an elected delegate to the last six Democratic National Conventions. Prior to joining USDA, Anand served on the boards of the two academic units: founding chair of the Department of Anatomy and Physiology and chair of Communicative Disorders.

A freelance journalist, he has authored more than 400 news article and essays published in Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register, Sacramento Bee, Asian News, India West and India Abroad.

Deepak Ganju
Engineer by training and an entrepreneur by profession, Deepak Ganju is the Managing Editor of the Monthly on-line Shehjar magazine, a leading publication reaching over ten thousand members. This now-very-popular magazine covers the entire spectrum of Kashmir--its politics, history, religion and culture.

One of the past Presidents of KOA, Deepak is the founding member of International Kashmir Federation. Being forced to leave his home and hearth in the wake of terrorist onslaught from across the border, Deepak has undergone the traumatic experience of being a refugee from Kashmir..

Deepak Ganju has been an example in leadership, leading with his own works in the spheres of cultural and other community activism.He has actively and aggressively spearheaded Kashmiri Hindu cause for more than a decade, connecting with important leaders and activists from all over the globe. He has tremendous capability to organize cultural and other community events concerning the interests of KPs.

His focus has always been to highlight the plight of Kashmiri Hindu refugees through the medium of documentary movies, rallies and magazines

Lost Paradise” “India’s 59-hour Infamy”, ”Our Lost Home” and "Amarnath Yatra"are some of the videos produced by him to acquaint the world at large with what the Hindus of Kashmir have gone through.

Samyuktha Shenoy
Ms. Samyuktha Shenoy is a research associate at U.S.-India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) which is the bi-partisan political voice of 2.5 million Indian-Americans to promote issues of importance to the Indian-American community. Ms. Shenoy is a graduate student at the George Washington University majoring in International Affairs with a concentration on Conflict Resolution and Security Studies. Ms. Shenoy has worked on numerous projects on conflict resolution and counterterrorism in South Asia, with a special focus on Kashmir. She graduated from the American University of Sharjah with a B.A in Mass Communication and Governmental Studies. During this time, she was the President of the only student-run PR firm in the U.A.E. Ms. Shenoy is a strong advocate of cultural exchange and human rights, especially labor rights.

Ishani Chowdhury
Ishani Chowdhury is the Hindu American Foundation's Director of Public Policy. Ms. Chowdhury's main responsibility is to promote understanding of the Foundation's agenda among policy makers in America. Her focus includes human rights, the public portrayal of Hinduism, and religion in America. She is the Foundation's voice to the U.S. Congress, the White House and non-governmental organizations in Washington, D.C.. She has spoken at relevant briefings in the U.S. Congress and oversees communications with such groups as the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom and the United States State Department.

Ms. Chowdhury has received a B.B.A. in Computer Information Systems from Baruch College (CUNY) in New York City and an M.B.A. from the University of Maryland. Ms. Chowdhury joined HAF in 2006, leaving her previous employment and field of expertise in Information Technology, with concentration in Oracle database systems and Project Management, to pursue the cause of joining an organization that is a strong voice for over 2 million Hindu Americans. She has written and spoken extensively on issues relevant to Hindu Americans and human rights atrocities against Bangladeshi Hindus. She has written frequently for 'Hinduism Today' magazine and served as a Hinduism school teacher at the Sri Beenapani Vedic School in Brooklyn, New York.

Jeevan Zutshi
Jeevan Zutshi is the founder of Kashmir Task Force (1990), founding member of Indo-American Kashmir Forum (1991), past National Executive Director and President of California affairs. He is the founding president of Kashmiri Overseas Association (KOA) Chapter in California (1986). He is the founder of International Kashmir Federation (IKF), a global organization of Kashmiris which works with like minded organizations focused on eradicating terrorism and finding a lasting solution to Kashmir conflict. He has dedicated his past 25 years to build India-US relations and also fight for the human rights violations of Kashmiris.

He took several delegations to Kashmiri camps in India and has convened several international symposiums in California to educate mainstream America about Kashmir and terrorism. In one of the International symposiums, Congressman McDermott was a keynote speaker and Congressman Mike Honda was the Guest of Honor and yet, in another one Congressman Pete Stark was the keynote and Congressman Pallone was the Guest of Honor. Senator Sherrod Brown has been invited several times to educate Californians about national effort to help Kashmiri Pandits.

Jeevan is very involved in mainstream America, several Boards related to helping children, homeless, business, etc . He is the founder of a non-profit called Indo-American Community Federation (IACF-USA) which promotes peace, harmony and understanding of different cultures in California through its signature event called the Unity Dinner, started after 9/11.

He is the President of San Francisco chapter of Global organization of People of Indian origin (GOPIO) and a Director of National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA).

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