indica News Bureau-
Members of the small Kashmiri Pandit community living in various parts of the United States staged a peaceful demonstration Saturday in front of the office of The Washington Post here to protest against its coverage of recent developments in the troubled state of Jammu & Kashmir.
On Aug 5, India’s Parliament passed a move initiated by the Narendra Modi administration to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution, which conferred special status on Jammu & Kashmir, and Article 35-A, which allowed the state to decide who could own property within its boundaries. It also agreed to divide the state into two centrally administered Union territories, one of them with an elected legislature.
The protest in Washington, organized by the Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora, accused the leading American newspaper of providing one-sided coverage of the developments in the state, which has been under a severe security and communication lockdown since Aug 5.
Protestors held banners and raised slogans like ‘Washington Post: Stop wrong, untrue and false report’, ‘Washington Post: Jihadi Post’, ‘Yeh Kashmir humara hai’ and ‘Washington Post: Fake News’.
Participants claimed that the newspaper has ignored the gross violation of human rights of their small community. The protestors also raised slogans in support of Prime Minister Modi.
“Your coverage has not addressed the de jure lawlessness that existed in the State of Jammu & Kashmir due to Article 370 accompanied by Article 35A, which supposedly granted special status to the State,” the Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora said in a memorandum submitted to The Washington Post.
“Nowhere in The Washington Post media narrative is there any mention that in this lawless State the most heinous genocide was committed against the aboriginal people, the Kashmiri Pandits, resulting in their virtual exile. Christians were not spared either. The tacit acceptance of a new ethnically cleansed normal is a shocking condonement of culpability of the rarest of crimes by your newspaper,” the memorandum said.
“The Kashmiri Pandits were given 48 hours’ notice to leave the Valley. Kashmiri Pandit community was completely cleansed, 480,000 had to flee under enormous duress with loss of life, limb and assets. 1,397 Kashmiri Pandits and other non-Muslims who were killed have been identified to the individual level and more are being added,” the memorandum said.
‘The Washington Post’s biased reporting ignores the inconvenient truth that Article 370 and Article 35A… have denied democratic rights to the minorities, women and weaker sections of the society while throttling Kashmir’s economy… and the Kashmir valley became a breeding ground for rampant corruption, separatism and Islamic terrorism,” said Dr Mohan Sapru, chief coordinator of the rally.
Dr Vijay Sazawal, the international coordinator of the Indo-American Kashmiri Forum, stated that Western journalists, including of The Post, should be ashamed of their reportage on Kashmir. “The Post, by stating the changes introduced by the Indian Parliament on the reorganization of Jammu & Kashmir State as a victory of Hinduism over Islam is disgraceful, disgusting and disingenuous.”
Across the street, a group of Pakistani Americans, separatist Kashmiris and Khalistani separatists held a silent demonstration in support of The Post. “Thank you Washington Post, NYT [The New York Times], BBC, AJ [Al-Jazeera], WSJ [Wall Street Journal] for giving a voice to the voiceless,” said one of their banners.