Indian Columnist and political commentator Sunanda Vashisht's speech has taken the social media by storm after she testified at the US Congressional hearing on Human Rights on November 14. Organised by Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bipartisan US congressional caucus was held in Washington to examine the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir in the context of the region's history.
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. The hearing also addressed the Valley's lockdown situation including restrictions on internet and communication.
Here’s her exact wordings addressed in the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission:
I would like to thank the Tom Lantos human Rights Commission, for inviting me to testify here as the witness. Today is worth remembering, that this commission is named after the late Congress man Tom Lantos, a Hungarian born Holocaust survivor. In July 2003, he said, Indians & Jews share a passionate commitment to respect for others, for the rule of law and for the mindless, vicious, fanatic Islamic terrorism. Am also reminded today, of American Journalist Daniel pearl, who was kidnapped and beheaded by Pakistani terrorists. His last word, my father is a Jewish, My mother is Jewish and I am a Jewish. Honourable members of the Tom Lantos Commission, I speak before you, the last words of Daniel pearl in my own words, my father is a Kashmiri Hindu, my mother is a Kashmiri Hindu, I am a Kashmiri Hindu, and her home and lives were destroyed by radical Islamic terrorism. As I begin to speak, I am choked by the thought of those voices, I represent here, because their voices were extinguished in most brutal fashion. I am the member of the minority Hindu community from Kashmir, victim of the worst ethnic cleansing witnessed in the independent India. I speak here today, because, I am a survivor.
An innocent young woman a lab assistant in high School, wasn’t as Lucky as I was, she was abducted, blindfolded, gang raped and cut into two halves, on a mechanical saw while still alive. Her name was Girija Tikku. Her only crime... Her faith. I am her voice today. I am also the voice of the young Kashmiri engineer, who was hunted by terrorists, again for his faith. When terrorist came to kill him, he hid inside a rice container in his attic, and he would have been alive today, had his location not been disclosed to the terrorists by his own neighbours. His neighbours he trusted, neighbours that we trusted. The terrorists, shot him, through the container, and enforced his wife to eat blood soaked rice, his name was B K Ganju. His crime…His faith. I speak for him today. I could go on and on. We have seen ISIS level of horror, in brutality in Kashmir, 30 years, before the west was even introduced to the brutalities of radical Islamic terror. Am glad, that these hearings are happening today because when my family and I lost our homes, our livelihood and our way of life, the world remained silent. Where were the advocates of Human Rights when my rights were taken away. Where were they on the night of 19th January 1990, when there were voices blaring from all mosque in Kashmir, that they wanted Kashmir with Hindu women but without Hindu men. Where were the saviours of humanity, when my feeble, all the grandfathers stood with two kitchen knives and in all rusted axe ready to kill my mother and I, in order to save us from the much worse fate awaited us, if we landed in the hands of terrorists on the same fateful night. My people were given three choices...flee, convert or die… around four hundred thousand Kashmiri Hindus fled right after that night of horror. They survived, those who didn’t were killed. Today 30 years later, am still not welcomed in my Home in Kashmir, am not allow to follow my faith, without fear. My house in Kashmir is illegally occupied as those of countless others in my community. Those that are not occupied have mostly been burned down or ransacked. Thousands of our temples have been vandalised, desecrated, and lane ruins and every effort have been made to eradicate Hinduism from Kashmir. Today Kashmir is home to only one religion, this is by design and is the ultimate humiliation of Human Rights. Diversity and acceptance of different views are not normal in Kashmir. It’s not just Hindus that has been ethnically cleansed, six has been massacred, a fatwa was announced against Christian Schools in Kashmir, accusing them of luring Muslims to Christianity. What Human Rights are we talking about when all minorities have either been driven out or silenced. An Islamist state of Kashmir where other religions are not welcomed, and tolerance of any other viewpoints is absent, is no citadel of Human Rights. This is the society that has been created by Kashmir, by those who are talking about Human rights.
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