Kashmiri Hindus in USA
seek help for
The plight of Kashmiri Hindus, known as Kashmiri Pandits who are the tormented Hindu people of Kashmir, was a significant focus of discussions with US State Departmrnt officials and various congressmen nd Senators. About 350, 000 of Kashmiri Hindus lie in different cities of India. Most of them are struggling to make two ends meet, trying to be heard by public officials, and trying to establish a new identity. Some thirty thousand still harbor the refugee camps of Jammu, in abject conditions of poverty and in dire need of medical help. Their children are languishing in low-level schools, without bright prospects of good college education. The state of Kashmiri Pandits, twenty years after the unleashing of Pakistan’s terrorism in Kashmir, has rendered them economically deprived, politically disfranchised, and culturally anchorless. What is involved is not only the damage to the physical infrastructure of Kashmiri Pandits’ lives but also the damage to their psychological and cultural roots. The original inhabitants of Kashmir, intellectualized and independent minded, are now exiled into the plains of India, looking for a loaf of bread, a shelter, and some respect.
Kashmir, ironically a stunningly beautiful place, has been in political throes since 1947, when India gained its independence from Great Britain. Just a few months after India’s independence, Pakistan attacked Kashmir, with an intention to acquire it. Over the next 62 years, till now, it still occupies about 35% of it. The Kashmiri Hindus, who are nearly 30% of the population of the State Of Jammu And Kashmir, right after the Indian independence, started to be discriminated against by the Kashmiri Muslims. In 1965 Pakistan attacked Kashmir again but it was of no avail. The pinnacle of Pakistan’s ambition to acquire Kashmir came in 1989 when a large-scale effort, with the help of Kashmiri Muslims, was launched. Some twenty thousand innocent Kashmiri Pandits were killed and many were raped. Almost 90% of the entire community, about 350,000, was forced to flee their ancient homeland of thousands of years, jobs, and homes to save themselves and became refugees in their own country. The after-shocks of that powerful upheaval are still reverberating in the lives of the displaced Pandits.
Pandits did nothing to stir the Islamic terrorism in Kashmir and yet they have paid and are paying an extreme penalty for it. It is a supreme irony that their own central government has neglected them, in order to show support for Muslims in Kashmir. This perverse politics has denied them their human and civil rights given to them by their country’s constitution and by the international organizations.
It will be a mighty step in alleviating the suffering of Pandits if we let them return to Kashmir, to their homes and hearths, to their jobs, and to their milieu. But it is not feasible at this time due to the lack of security there and the lack of help of the local government and the Kashmiri Muslims. To give relief to the Pandits, the Panun Kashmir movement started some twenty years ago. The Kashmiri expression Panun Kashmir means my Kashmir. The idea behind the movement is to carve an area within Kashmir, called Panun Kashmir, which will be the legally protected place for Kashmiri Pandits to live in. It will be administered by Government Of India from New Delhi. This will provide the Pandits with a homeland where they can revive the economic engine that fed them and rekindle the ethos that has nurtured their souls. It is our fervent hope that the conscience of the world, with the help of United States, will engender practical help to protect the Kashmiri Pandits from their ongoing brutal persecution and rehabilitate them into their homeland.
Delegation members from left Deepak Ganju, Ishani Chowdhury, Maharaj Kaul, Michael Owen (Director- South East Asia- US Department of state) and Jeevan Zutshi
Delegation members from left Maharaj Kaul, Hon. Congressman Ed. Royce, Jeevan Zutshi and Deepak Ganju
Delegation members from left Deepak Ganju, Hon. Congressman Mike Honda, Maharaj Kaul, Jeevan Zutshi
Delegation members from left Deepak Ganju, Hon. Senator Sherrod Brown, Jeevan Zutshi and Maharaj Kaul
Deepak Ganju with Hon. Congressman Edward R. Royce
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All the best. It is high time now to arrive at consensus on the much awaited issue.
Added By subhash razdan