Indian Columnist and political commentator Sunanda Vashisht’s speech has taken social media by storm after she testified at the US Congressional hearing on Human Rights on Thursday, November 14. Which was Organised by Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, held in Washington to examine the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir in the context of the region’s history.
Sunanda was bold and brave when she voiced her opinions.
Here are a few key takeaways from Sunanda Vashisht’s speech:
- During her speech, Sunanda highlighted some of the crucial human rights situations in the Valley, India’s successful attempts to fight against insurgencies in J&K, milestones achieved post abrogation of article 370 and made several other important statements in the context of Kashmir’s human rights violations over the years.
- We have seen ISIS level of horror and brutality in Kashmir, 30 years 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,” Vashisht told a Congressional hearing.
- “Where were the advocates of human rights when my rights were taken away?” Vashisht asked the panelists who were present at the hearing.
- “Where were they on the night of January 19, 1990, when there were voices blaring from all mosques in Kashmir that they wanted Kashmir with Hindu women but without Hindu men?”
- Around 400,000 Kashmiri Hindus fled right after the night of horror. They survived. Those who didn`t were killed. Today, 30 years later, I am still not welcome in my home in Kashmir. I am not allowed to follow my faith there. By giving the chilling details of human rights violation that took place in Kasmir, Sunanada spoke on behalf of Kashmiri Pandits.
- She even narrated the horrific incidents of that time, Girija Tikoo was abducted, gang raped and slit into half when she was still alive.
- An engineer named BK Ganjoo, who hid in a rice container in his attic when terrorists came for him.
“He would have been alive today had his location not been disclosed to the terrorists by his own neighbours….The terrorists shot him through the container and forced his wife to eat the blood-soaked rice” Sunanda narrated.
Terrorists gave my people 3 choices, flee, convert or die. We Have seen ISIS level of horror, brutality in Kashmir she remarked.
India’s fight against insurgencies:
It is high time to strengthen India to fight against insurgencies in Kashmir, said columnist Sunanda Vashisht, adding that the move will followingly help in solving the human rights problems in the region forever.
“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,” Vashisht told a Congressional hearing on Human Rights.
Islamic terrorism in Kashmir
“We are dealing with Islamic terrorism in Kashmir,” Vashisht told the panelists. “We have to be cognisant of the fact. 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 said that the that is when the human rights situation will be possible.
My grandfather was ready to kill me and my mother to save us from worse – Sunanda Vashisht recalled every Kashmiri Pandits’ nightmare.
Plebiscite in Kashmir is never going to happen’
“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 held with China, Vashisht added.
‘There is no India without Kashmir, and no Kashmir without India’
In her concluding remarks, the columnist further stated that India has “not occupied” Kashmir and that Kashmir was always an integral part of India.
India is not just a 70-year-old identity, but a 5000-year-old civilisation. There is no India without Kashmir, and no Kashmir without India
This was the second congressional hearing after the Indian government abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories on August 5, which was effective as of October 31, 2019.
Kudos to Sunanada Vasishta, for speaking the truth, and for speaking it with such boldness. If anyone talks about Human Rights situation in Kashmir, they have to first address issue of Kashmiri Pandits. We can not reverse back what happened but we can definitely stand strong and curb terrorism without buckling under pressure.
Dr Sindhu Prashanth