Speakers at the 73rd Indian Independence Day Celebration in San Francisco Share Their Thoughts on Article 370

Ritu Jha-

More than 400 people including elected officials, entrepreneurs, academics, community leaders, and Indian political leaders took part in the 73rd India Independence Day Celebration hosted by the Indian Consulate in San Francisco, on Aug. 15, at the San Francisco War Memorial Building.

The city of San Francisco in honor of India’s independence lit City Hall in Tri-color and hoisted the Indian flag. The BJP General Secretary, Kailash Vijayvargiya stole the show with his song, “Aab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo.”

During his short speech, he lauded the Indian American diaspora saying, “I see the confidence level is high.”

Vijayvargiya, who first visited the Bay Area in 2008, said a lot has changed here in the US.

Talking to indica about the abrogation of Article 370 he said, “Modi has a dynamic personality and the job nobody can do. It can be only done by Modi.”

“I felt Article 370 would never be abrogated in my lifetime but he without much hoopla removed it in peace,” said Vijayvargiya.

“Today India had a peaceful Eid celebration observed by Muslims, as well as an Independence Day celebration.”

”Look at India and Pakistan, they both [received] independence the same year and a day apart. We are reaching the moon and they are still thinking,” he said.

The Consul General of India in San Francisco, Ambassador Sanjay Kumar Panda, spoke about the abrogation of Article 370 saying, “We saw the recent changes made in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and it would bring an immense benefit and enable people to access and enjoy safe rides, privileges, and perseverance.”

“We in India are proud of our friendship with the United States that has evolved in the global strategic partnership.” California has played a special role as the India-US story unfolds. California has a natural connection with India.”

Referring to the 150th Birth anniversary of the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, he said, “It’s time to recall Gandhian values of non-violence and peace, that has more relevance today than ever before.

“This year we also paid tribute to Guru Nanak Devji on his 550th birth anniversary,” said Panda.

Consul General Panda also urged the Indian American diaspora to attend the “Howdy Modi” event on September 22, “I invite to join and welcome the Prime Minister in this historic operation.”

Among the community leaders invited from various faiths was Raj Munaim, of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, sharing his thoughts on India’s 73rd independence day celebration, “It’s really nice to have such celebration.”

When asked about his views on the abrogation of Article 370, he said, ”We need to kind of understand the details about it.”

“We just heard it was done, being far away it was hard to really understand. But I think it was good for the people. We need peace in the Kashmir Valley.”

Munaim also stated that he thinks it will take some time for people to accept. He believes that a mandate from the top would help get Kashmiris on board.

Also present at the celebration from India was Sanjoy K Roy, Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, and the man behind the Jaipur Literature Festival, sharing his though on abrogation of Article 370 he said, “If you look at Goa, people tend to forget the history of the country.”

India became independent in 1947 while Goa remained under Portuguese control until 1961 when it was turned into a union territory. Later, in 1987, it became included in Statehood. Making it the smallest Indian state.

He said that people have very short-term memories. And at the end of the day, it’s the country and their economy will benefit them.

Roy, adding further about Article 370 said that it has to go regardless. “[It] should have happened way earlier.”

“Again, I think that is not the issue and both houses (Raj Sabha and Lok Sabha) have passed it. The issue now is how do you create trust? How do you create jobs in the Kashmir Valley? How [do you] ensure you ring together these people?” asked Roy.

“The good thing about this present government is that they have been undoing all the laws that were redundant they’ve started addressing that and are abrogating them. And they have identified 800 [laws]. Parliament is running very decisively and we all need to respect that. That is the rule of the law.”

“It doesn’t matter the community or the group of people who won’t accept it. Now it is a law and there will be a process and I hope for peaceful progress,” said Roy. [EW3]

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