US-Based Kashmiri Pandits Respond to Biased Allegations Toward Kashmir in the Wake of the Removal of Article 370

Ritu Jha-

The Kashmiri Overseas Association (KOA) says they are surprised to see The Lancet, a reputable medical journal, has written a one-sided story about Kashmir.

Dr. Shakun Munshi Malik

On Aug.17th, The Lancet published an article entitled, “Fear and Uncertainty Around Kashmir’s Future,” sympathizing with the present residents of Kashmir. The article references A Médecins Sans Frontières study showing that in two rural districts affected by conflict, “Nearly half of Kashmiris rarely felt safe and of those who had lost a family member to violence, one in five had witnessed the death firsthand. Therefore, it is unsurprising that people in the region have increased anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi vows that his decision to revoke autonomy will bring prosperity to Kashmir. But first, the people of Kashmir need healing from the deep wounds of this decades-old conflict, not subjugation to further violence and alienation.”

But the president of KOA, Dr. Shakun Munshi Malik, says they never made an effort to talk to the Kashmiri pandit who were brutally murdered and mention the trauma they have gone through.

In an open letter to Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Richard Horton, the KOA condemned the article stating, “The overseas physicians of Kashmiri origin, appreciate your efforts in highlighting the healthcare issues of Kashmiris, however, we are deeply disappointed that your opinion omits many relevant facts, and thus represents an intellectually dishonest analysis of a complex geopolitical issue.”

On Aug. 5th, Prime Minister Modi took a surprising step and abrogated Article 370, legally making Jammu and Kashmir a union territory of India.

Malik, a doctor in Washington DC, told indica, “We have been aware of the psychological issues that have happened in the refugee camps. They never talk about what had happened to the migrant people who were murdered and kicked out of the valley and have to stay in tents.”

“We had seen a lot of death in our community, women were raped and there was so much pain.

“It’s a surprising shock they never even looked at us,” she said. Recalling how her father, brother, and grandfather had to leave their hometown.

“Nobody came to our rescue, nor state, nor the Indian government and no one cared and now all of a sudden everyone is talking about Kashmir,” said Dr. Malik, “Kashmir Muslims, just because they have no internet and phone and are taken away, [this] is getting attention and everyone is saying Modi is bad, this is strange.”

The letter sent to The Lancet states:  “We acknowledge the feeling of uncertainty arising from the inability to instantly reach our loved ones, as security personnel dismantles terrorist communication networks by temporarily blocking internet and phone lines. However, the Lancet has no locus standi to question the initiatives undertaken by a secular, sovereign, and democratic nation to solve the Kashmir conundrum, while simultaneously protecting its citizens from the growing threat of radical Islamist ideology.”

Our community, the Kashmiri Pandits (Kashmiri Hindus), are the original inhabitants of Kashmir. Yet we faced the specter of a cultural extinction in 1990, by Pakistan-trained militants who wanted to extend the Islamic Caliphate into Kashmir. To create terror, mosques using loudspeakers blared “convert, leave or die”. Messages were posted on our doors to leave immediately or face consequences.

“This threat is a direct result of secular, mainstream education being replaced by madrasas (Islamic schools) that openly tout gun violence.

We thus believe that the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A are the first steps toward a brighter future for all religions and cultures in Kashmir, known as “Kashmiriyat.”

“We agree that Kashmir needs to heal. Let us give it time and space to heal and a chance for peace.”

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