India misleading people on Art 370, 35A abrogation: Nitasha Kaul

Kashmir Times. Dated: 10/24/2019 4:20:24 PM

US Congresswoman slams Indian journalist for failing to report on HR abuse in Kashmir

WASHINGTON, Oct 23 (Agencies): Kashmiri-origin author, Nitasha Kaul, on Tuesday, said the government was misleading the people by claiming that by abrogating Article 370 and Article 35A, Kashmiri women would be empowered and their rights enhanced.
She termed such claims as "red-herring" and said these were the instruments used to justify the government's claim of "emancipating and liberating" Kashmiri women.
Kaul, associate professor in politics and international relations at the University of Westminster, was testifying at the US House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on "Human Rights in South Asia" in Washington.
The hearing was convened by Congressman Brad Sherman, Chairman of the sub-committee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
In reference to the claim that under Article 35-A, Kashmiri women are stripped of their property rights once they marry a non-resident of Jammu and Kashmir, Kaul said the state High Court had struck down this provision in a landmark judgment in October 2002.
In 2002, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court held that women who married to non-permanent residents will not lose their rights, though children of such women will not enjoy succession rights.
Kaul further said that after Article 370 was made defunct, BJP leaders said "we want to go Kashmir and marry fair women".
Kaul argued that if striking down of Article 370 was done for the welfare of Kashmiri people, "why does it need tens of thousands of troops to be brought in, why does it happen overnight without any consultation of the people and depriving the population from saying anything?"
She said it was an "egregious human rights violation" that goes against consent and fundamentals of dissent, as they relate to democracy. "This is an arbitrary use of power with no accountability."
“When we express concerns about forced disappearances in other parts of the world, that’s precisely why we should care. Parveena Ahanger, who’s the chairperson of Association of Parents of Disappeared People, whose son is a victim of that. She’s been leading that struggle for 20 plus years, on International Day for Disappeared this year, they were not even allowed to gather and mourn. Something they’ve done at the 10th of every month and at the end of August. This is an elderly woman, who’s led this campaign, who’s been nominated for the Nobel Prize is not allowed that space.”
In response to Indian journalist Aarti Singh Tikoo, who also testified at the hearing, Kaul said that Kashmir issue is not a communal problem.
"If Kashmir were a communal problem, then Muslims in India would feel same as Kashmiri Muslims. And they do not (feel the same)," she said, adding that the issue has rather been communalised.
"There is a political problem which is compounded by human rights violations," Kaul said.
In her testimony, Tikoo said: "Throughout these 30 years of conflict, Islamic jihad and terror in Kashmir perpetrated by Pakistan has been completely ignored and overlooked by the world press. There is no human rights activists and no press in the world which feels that it is their moral obligation to talk or write about the victims of Pakistani terror in Kashmir.”
During the hearing, several US lawmakers urged the Indian government to "fully restore" communication in Jammu and Kashmir and said India, being the world's largest democracy, needs to uphold its commitment to human rights.
US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar slammed Tikoo for making ‘dubious’ claims in favour of the Indian government on the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Responding to Singh’s opening remarks at the US congressional sub-committee hearing, Omar reminded the former that the job of a reporter was to find the ‘objective truth about what’s happening and report it to the public.’
“Ms Singh, a reporter’s job is to find the objective truth about what is happening and report it to the public. You have an enormous audience at The Times of India and you have an enormous responsibility to get it right. I am aware of how the narrative shaped by reporting can distort the truth. I am also very aware of how it could be limited to sharing only the official side of the story. The press is at its worst when it is a mouthpiece for a government.”
Questioning Singh’s ‘version of the story’ on the current situation in Kashmir, Omar said, “In your version of the story, the only problems in Kashmir are caused by what you call militants, the only people protesting to break away from India; and are all nefariously backed by Pakistan. You also make the incredibly dubious claim that the Indian government’s crackdown in Kashmir is good for human rights. If it was good for human rights, Ms Singh, it wouldn’t be happening in secret. You make, what I might call, a feminist case for the occupation of Kashmir and communication shutdowns, saying it will be better for women.”
Singh, who was nominated by the Indian government to speak at the hearing, did not like Omar questioning her integrity. She said, “My record, my professional record is that I have lashed out at every single government in India on various issues, from human rights violations committed in Kashmir to the lynchings over beef. I have a record of being non-partisan throughout in my profession of the last 20 years. So for Ms Omar to say… such accusations against me, is really condemnable.”
Earlier US based Indian academic Angana Chatterji also slammed the Indian government for the gross human rights violations in Kashmir. When Omar asked Chatterji if she agreed with Singh’s assessment that what has been happening in Kashmir since 5 August was good for the local population, the latter replied, “Hell no. Absolutely not. As you said yourself, if it was good for anybody, we would announce it. It will be announced to the world. It would be free. We would be able to go there…Most importantly, the people who it’s being done to would be appreciative.. They (Kashmiris) said that they felt like they were being caged. They’ve said that their rights are being revoked…In this instance, when we talk about the BJP government, we also need to understand their ideology. Because their mandate for the first time in India openly to render India into a Hindu state.”
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar said that BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has threatened "common values of human rights and democracy".
In his opening remarks, Congressman Brad Sherman said, "The entire world is focused today on what is happening in Kashmir."
He expressed concerns over the human rights situation in Kashmir, saying that there are severe restrictions on freedom of movement and communications. The lawmakers called for the release of detained politicians and activists.



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