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At US Congressional hearing, brave Kashmiri Sunandha Vashisht exposes Pakistan

Washington DC [USA], Nov 15 (ANI): Pakistan's diabolic propaganda on Jammu and Kashmir was exposed by a brave and fearless Kashmiri columnist and political commentator, Sunanda Vashisht, who gave a befitting reply to the neighbouring country over its nefarious attempts to spread disharmony and nurture terrorism in the region. During a Congressional hearing on Human Rights organised by Tom Lantos HR Commission here on Thursday, Vashisht said that Kashmir has witnessed a similar level of horror and brutality as inflicted by the Islamic State in Syria, prior to the time when the West and other international communities were apprised about the worst human rights situation in the Valley. "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," "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? Where was the saviour of humanity when my feeble old grandfather stood with kitchen knives and an old rusted axe ready to kill my mother and I in order to save us from the much worse fate that awaited us?" she questioned further. She then said, "My people were given three choices by the terrorists: flee, convert or die on the same fateful night." The columnist said that 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. My house in Kashmir is illegally occupied as most others in my communities. And those which were not occupied have been burnt down or ransacked," she told the hearing. Meanwhile, Sheila Jackson Lee, a Representative from Texas, in response to Vashisht asked for a pathway to ensure human rights in the region. "We should try to find a pathway to at least do the basics to ensure human rights in the region. Why not allow the members of the US Congress to visit both parts of the Jammu and Kashmir -- in India as well as Pakistan," Lee said. Furthermore, Vashisht said it is high time to strengthen India to fight against insurgencies in Kashmir, adding that the move will followingly help in solving the human rights problems in the region once and for all. "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," she said. "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. Vashisht said that the international community has to assist India in eradicating radical Islamist terror that is when the human rights situation will be possible. "Plebiscite in Kashmir is never going to happen. 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," she added. The columnist underlined that equal rights to the LGTBQ communities and property rights to women have only been accomplished through the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. "The Indian Constitution which is modelled on the US Constitution is the most liberal document in the world. The Constitution was not applicable in totality until Article 370 was into force," she said. The central government had on August 5 announced a decision to scrap Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the erstwhile state into two Union Territories (UTs) - Jammu and Kashmir with legislature and Ladakh without one. The two UTs came into existence on October 31. In her concluding remarks, Vashisht further said 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, she said. (ANI)

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