NEW YORK/NEW DELHI: India’s Consul General in New York Sandeep Chakravorty has told a gathering of Kashmiri Hindus that the security situation in the newly-created Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir will improve to allow the Kashmiri Pandits to return, and India should follow the model of Israel.
In a video circulating on social media, that has been attacked by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chakravorty also told his audience that India has “successfully stalled” the international diplomatic onslaught over Kashmir, following the move to revoke its special status in August.
“We have to go beneath the reasoning and understand why it (revoking Article 370) was done. I think somebody spoke about the Jewish issue, they (Jews) kept their culture alive for 2,000 years, outside their land, and they went back. I think we all have to keep Kashmiri culture alive, Kashmiri culture is the Indian culture, it is Hindu culture. I feel as much Kashmiri as anybody else”, he said.
“Sunanda Vashisht (Kashmiri Hindu who testified at a Congressional hearing) said Kashmir is India and India is Kashmir. None of us can imagine India without Kashmir”, he added.
“Anupamji said that in India we think about everyone else, about other’s religions, but unfortunately not everyone thinks that way. I think we made the strategic blunder that we thought that everybody is thinking like us, but everybody is not thinking like us”, he said.
“We should start thinking like others, and then only we will be able to beat them at their game. I think we have to do that, and that thinking is now coming…”, he said.
He said the Kashmiri Pandits would be able to return to Kashmir again.
“You give us some time, and you will see what is going to happen. I believe the security condition in Jammu and Kashmir will improve; it will allow the refugees to go back. And in your lifetime you will be able to go back, and you will be able to visit your villages, and you will be able to go back to your homes, and you will find security”, he said.
“Because we already we have a model in the world. I don’t know why we don’t follow it. It has happened in the Middle East. If the Israeli people can do it, we can also do it”, he said.
“I think we should push our leadership to do that, otherwise then it is of no use…”, he added.
He said the Kashmir issue was “getting pulled” into the UN Human Rights Council and the US Congress.
“A delegation wants to go (to Kashmir). But please go to the other places too. Why don’t you go to Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan? Why do you want to come to our territory?
“They don’t like it that we are now asserting ourselves,” he remarked, to applause.
“I believe that in my lifespan we will have our land back. Our people have to go back because not everybody can live in the US. Our Kashmiri brothers and sisters are living in refugee camps in Jammu, in Delhi, on the streets. They have to return to their home one day.
“And they will not go because of fear of life. I think that fear will go away”, he said.
“Give us some time, I think the government has done what it has done. The government would not have taken such a big international risk for just to make amendment (Article 370). You have to think ahead,” he said to applause.
“Today we ran the risk of international opprobrium. The world could have stood against us. It was an international diplomatic struggle. We have successfully stalled it”, he added.
Pakistan hit back
In response to the diplomat’s comments, Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan tweeted: “shows the fascist mindset of the Indian govt’s RSS ideology,” referring to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu nationalist organisation with links to India’s ruling BJP party.”
On August 5, the Indian government abrogated Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu & Kashmir, and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories, for better governance and to ensure that all central laws related to women and children rights, and the poor, are applicable uniformly in the state.