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l October 2003 l

The Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

l Vol 2, No 6 l

S P O T L I G H T

Kashmir Sell-out: Indian black-sheep in US

Yatindra Bhatnagar


San Francisco Bay Area is unique in some respects and the so-called “intellectuals and secular” big wigs, more so. That was amply demonstrated here, sometime back, when some prominent Kashmiri activists, including those whose families have suffered as a result of the ongoing terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir State of India, were kept away. They were  not allowed to participate in a significant manner in a discussion of Kashmir and only after some animated protest, one person was given “two minutes” and the other 20 seconds. Several others interested in raising points were deliberately shut out.

 

“ A Discussion Forum on Kashmir” was organized by Professor Angana Chatterji of the California Institute of Integral Studies. This venerable institution is now becoming “famous” for anti-India, anti-Hindu, pro-Muslim and pro-Pakistan events and speakers. The Forum was addressed by Prof. Pervez Hoodbhoy of Pakistan, Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai of the Kashmiri American Council and others.

 

One of the Kashmiri activists, Dr. Amrit Nehru, a reputed dentist of Los Angeles was invited by one of the organizers, Akhila Raman, a “researcher on Kashmir,” at Berkeley. It was understood that Dr. Nehru was invited as a “liberal Kashmiri,” probably meaning that he was not one who would think the accession of Jammu and Kashmir State to India was “final” and that there are “freedom fighters” active in the State and not terrorists sponsored by Pakistan.

 

To the surprise of Raman, Dr. Nehru gave a piece of his mind about the truth on Kashmir to her, on phone, from Los Angeles, and challenged the “stage-managed Forum” with no balance, no diversity of speakers and a definite tilt toward Pakistan. This set-up, obviously, was not meant to be a balanced display of diverse opinion. However, when Nehru showed up, with another couple of Kashmiris at the Forum, he was initially refused a chance to address the audience.

 

An emotional Nehru insisted that a Discussion on Kashmir Forum should not shut out Kashmiris and he be allowed to speak. The main organizer, Dr. Angana Chatterji of CIIS then relented a bit and agreed to give “two minutes” to Nehru and “20 seconds” to another activist Kishore Kaul.

 

Nehru commended Dr. Hoodbhoy’s plain speaking about the incredible domination of Pakistani military in all the facets of Pakistan’s life, and its responsibility for starting wars against India and supporting terrorism across the borders. But he blasted Dr. Fai’s assertions about terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba. He was surprised that the so-called Kashmir- lovers have not demanded China to vacate the grabbed part of Kashmir in the East, and the other part gifted by Pakistan to China in the West.

 

Chatterji, who was generous in giving time to other speakers, and herself every now and then, did not allow questions from those she thought might put forth uncomfortable points. To one would-be-questioner, who constantly raised his hand, she said “what incentive do I have to allow you to put a question…”

 

After the Forum was over, the Kashmiri groups and some others confronted the three main speakers Dr. Fai, Dr. Hoodbhoy and Akhila Raman. While Hoodbhoy got compliments for speaking the truth about Pakistan’s support for terrorism since 1987, Dr. Fai was not spared. He was challenged on his assertions that the State did not legally accede to India, that there was no terrorists but only ‘Freedom fighters” in Kashmir, and that Jammu and Kashmir was not an integral part of India. He dodged all the questions by saying that each one needs a day to explain.

 

Akhila Raman was accused of a definite tilt and misstatements in her slide show at the Forum. Her theory that Maharaja Hari Singh was a brutal ruler and the Muslims were subjected to atrocities was vehemently challenged. Her equating India with Pakistan was also blasted by the Kashmiris, and some other persons, who demanded that she make it clear that Pakistan had invaded Kashmir and that the State had legally acceded to India; and that there is no ambiguity about this position.

 

Earlier, during the main session Dr. Hoodbhoy had blamed Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies for starting and supporting terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. He said that Pakistani generals foolishly thought that by this covert war they could bleed India dry but saw Pakistan’s own economy crashing. He mentioned his talks with military dictator General Musharraf, whom he candidly told that the covert war was started with invalid reasons and that it has not weakened India. In the process Pakistan has lost international support, he maintained.

 

Dr. Fai was much less truthful with his assertions that Jammu and Kashmir did not legally accede to India, that the accession was not accepted by the international body, and that no amount of India-Pakistan talks would solve the “Kashmir dispute.”

 

Dr. Fai maintained that Tashkent, Simla, Lahore and Agra talks between India and Pakistan have failed, and it’s time we start talks at all levels. Fai favors an independent Kashmir, an internationally acclaimed mediator such as Nelson Mandela of South Africa, and talks at several levels between Kashmiri groups, India, Pakistan and the UN.

 

Asserting that there could be no military solution of “Kashmir dispute,” Dr. Fai said that 2 million Kashmiris have petitioned the UN for the right of self determination and that the Hurriyat is the real representative of the Kashmiri Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christian people.  However, he did not give any reason why the Hurriyat is shy to participate in democratic elections, even opposes them. This stand had given rise to terrorism, more killing of candidates and voters. .

 

Fai also advocated that the solution of “Kashmir dispute” can not be found in the history, constitution or declared positions of India or Pakistan but should be outside and beyond everything. In this context he quoted India’s Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who a few months back said in Srinagar that “insaniyat” (humanity) was more important and we should try and find a solution beyond the parameters of the constitution.

 

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