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DEBATE: Plight of Kashmiri Pandits/Hindus

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Ms Krishna Bhan, President of the Indo-European Kashmir Forum (IEKF) organised a conference in association with the Hindu Council UK on the “Plight of Kashmiri Pandits/Hindus”, in the House of Commons. The meeting was jointly chaired by Conservative MP-Marcus Jones and Labour MP-Virendra Sharma. The speakers at the conference spoke passionately on many different perspectives ranging from history of the conflict, analogies with recent events, geopolitical aspects, role of journalists and politicians and the relevance of conflict to the rest of the world. The mood in the packed Committee Room 10 was effusive, upbeat and one which demonstrated resolve and a call to action. Also in attendance were Bob Blackman MP and Richard Harrington MP who supported the issues raised.
The keynote speakers at the Conference included the Conference Organiser Krishna Bhan-President IEKF, Girdhari Bhan-Chair of VHP, Chandan Kotwal-Executive Member IEKF, Shantanu Bhagwat-Former Diplomat of India, Sanjay Jagatia-Director/Secretary General HCUK, Vivek Kaul-Executive Member of IEKF, Priyansha Raina-Lawyer & Political Activist, Lakshmi Kaul-Executive Member of KPCS, Gautam Sen-British Board of Hindu Scholars, Chuni Chavda-former Councillor and Satish K Sharma-General Secretary of the National Hindu Temples UK.
The main purpose of the conference was to express the Hindu community’s grave concerns over the forthcoming debate in the UK Parliament taking place on Thursday 11th September 2014 at the House of Commons. The debate in question has been secured by Liberal Democrats MP David Ward-Member of Parliament for Bradford East, together with support from Andrew Stephenson MP (Conservative) and David Nuttall MP (Labour), on behalf of the Jammu Kashmir Self Determination Movement Europe. Surprisingly, this debate has been granted as a result of some MPs, MEPs &
Lords from all the British Political Parties, together with members of the Kashmiri/Pakistan Community, who signed a petition asking the British Parliament to hold a special debate on the state of human rights for the Muslim community in Kashmir. However, IEKF believe, regrettably that some misguided Members of Parliament have supported this debate and it is for this reason IEKF and HCUK organised the conference in order to give the viewpoint of the Kashmiri Pandit/Hindu Community.
Marcus Jones MP welcomed the speakers and the audience. He said he appreciates the concerns of the displaced Kashmiri Hindus and asked the audience to lobby their own individual MPs for raising the awareness of the unprecedented human tragedy of Kashmiri Pandits/Hindus.
Krishna Bhan organiser of the Conference expressed her profound gratitude to Marcus Jones MP for supporting the Kashmiri Pandits/Hindus and taking out his valuable time to be part of this attempt to showcase a historical persecution of minority Kashmiri Pandits/ Hindus. She further stated that “by the virtue of the ‘Instrument of Accession’ the State of Jammu &Kashmir is an integral part of India and whatever happens in the State is an entirely domestic matter of India. Since 1990, planned and organized secessionist-terrorism has brutalized Kashmir, the valley of peace and exquisite beauty. Systematic efforts have been made to destroy its syncretic culture, traditions, and heritage, by an orgy of mindless violence fuelled by religious fanaticism and extremism, aided and abetted from across India’s borders”.
A short group discussion was followed by tributes for the upcoming Kashmiri Hindus Martyrs Day on 14th September. Krishna Bhan paid tributes to the Kashmiri Martyrs who lost their lives in the Kashmir conflict. Prayers for the same were facilitated and one minute silence was observed in their honour. As India and Pakistan continue to squabble over the territory of Kashmir, Kashmiri Pandits/Hindus feel they have been forgotten. They are afraid that they may lose their identity due to their rootlessness. Kashmir continues to be the land of their dreams, the subject of their poems and the inspiration behind their struggle. The Kashmiri Pandits/Hindus continue to live in the hope that one day they will return to Kashmir.
Sanjay Jagatia moderated the second part of the conference and sent out a strong passionate and motivating plea to the Hindu Community in the UK to unite and learn from other communities on how to successfully lobby and campaign. Sanjay closed the conference by giving a vote of thanks and especially commended Krishna Bhan who had organised such a successful conference in a short time.