The Lancet breaches India’s Sovereignty; Kashmiri Pandit doctors across the globe tender a befitting response

In what can be termed as a bizarre and unsolicited intervention in internal matters of India- one of the largest Democracies of the world, a reputed Medical journal The Lancet headquartered in United Kingdom has tried to breach the sovereign rights of an Independent country.

The lancet in its editorial “Fear and uncertainty around Kashmir’s future” published in ‘Vol 394 August 17, 2019’ has branded the constitutional exercise, a right of every sovereign nation as “controversial.” Claiming “a lock down has been implemented that suspended communication and internet links, and a strict curfew has been imposed,” this medical journal adds this exercise “the protracted exposure to violence has led to a formidable mental health crisis.”

Intriguingly the medical journal has branded the efforts of Indian security forces meant to establish law and order and maintain peace and tranquility, thereby preventing loss of life and life as an act of aggression. The Lancet fails to explain the mandate which allows them to challenge internal matters concerning constitutional rights of a sovereign nation to initiate order and establish peace.

This journal has not only breached the mandate of its activity which strictly confines it to medical issues in globe but infringes upon the right of a democratic republic to resolve its internal issues in an exemplary democratic manner. The Lancet and its editorial board must know the decision was taken by The Parliament of India- A representative body of nearly 1.30 billion people establishing the highest precedence of democracy.

A befitting response to this hypocritical behavior of the editorial board of The Lancet has been posted by reputed doctors of Kashmiri Pandit community under the banner of Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora (GKPD). Needless to mention The community is the first collateral of the Genocidal war unleashed by the theocratic and fascist forces in Kashmir valley duly aided and abetted by Pakistan for last nearly three decades. We are reproducing an unabridged response of this team of KP doctors living in forced exile across the globe:

 

To,

Richard Horton

Chief Editor,

The Lancet

 

Dear Mr. Horton,

Please refer to the editorial ‘Fear and uncertainty around Kashmir’s future’ published on the 17th of August by your widely read medical journal.

We, the physicians originally belonging to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, are outraged and extremely disappointed by the one-sided version that your journal has published.

In its editorial, The Lancet presents itself more as a political analyst rather than an upright medical periodical, drawing conclusions that are both sweeping yet superficial and only loosely based on the history of the region.

We appreciate the Lancet’s interest in Kashmir. It should have come decades ago when, under the cover of Article 370, terrorists carried out four progressive levels of ethnic cleansing of the Kashmiri Pandit community from the Kashmir Valley. During and since that time, a minority of hateful radicals have not only prevented us from returning, they have used Article 370 to prevent any progress of any kind for the region, including in the health domain. This has been well-documented and is in addition to terrorising pilgrims, Shiite Muslims, Buddhists, and other minority community members. You mention that healthcare has been impacted by suspended communication and strict curfews. However, the impact of this temporary suspension pales in comparison to the decades of mismanagement of resources and corrupt practices, by incumbent governments that flourished under special provisions of Article 370. Since the editorial has also commented on India revoking the autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir, it is pertinent to mention that State of Jammu and Kashmir constitutes three divisions – Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. The autonomous status was the provision through article 370 of Indian constitution which was temporary in nature and was revoked as per the laid down procedure in Indian constitution. For your information, this temporary provision in State of Jammu and Kashmir resulted in the spread of cross border terrorism with extraordinary impact on human lives. This provision was responsible for the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people of Kashmir, the Kashmiri Pandits. The true cause of the increased incidence of depression, anxiety and post traumatic disorders in Kashmir (similar to other regions across the world affected by terrorism) is terrorism and related activities. Therefore, it is extremely short sighted on your part to link these medical and psychological consequences to restrictions on movement and other temporary measures taken by the Government of India to maintain peace in this volatile region. Perhaps a better editorial would have been “Impact of Terrorism on human lives“.

The Lancet stepping up on this issue is tantamount to challenging the sovereignty of the nation. Medical journals should stick to commenting on medical issues rather than extend their commentary to the internal political matters of democratic nations, especially matters with a complex history.

We would also like to point out that it is impossible for the current inhabitants of Kashmir Valley to remain unaffected by a creeping sense of criminality when many of them have been accomplices in heinous crimes of genocide and ethnic cleansing of 350,000 local Hindus (Pandits) from the minority community in 1990. This was also reported by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), a prestigious NGO at the UN Human Rights Council, in their report to the UNHRC in 1994, after their team made an on-spot study in Kashmir. By deliberately avoiding reference to no fewer than four mass massacres of the religious minority and thirty years of its life in exile, the editorial has done a disservice to the fundamental norms of fair and impartial journalism. Anybody desirous of knowing through what harrowing times this hapless community of 350,000 people has been going through for last three decades of exile may take the time to read the attached 12-page comprehensive report prepared by a most outstanding physician of the exiled community on their mental and physical trauma.

Please click here to read the report – https://docdro.id/LSXqM75

Perhaps the editorial team should have researched this aspect of the turmoil as well to present a balanced view.

We hope that the Lancet will apologize for the pain it has caused our community who have been victims of genocide over decades. We would also like you to retract the article and publish this letter to inform your readers of the real issues facing the region.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. KL Chowdhury – India

Dr. Shafalica Bhan Kotwal – UK

Dr. Surinder Kaul – USA

Dr. Shubra Kaul – New Zealand

Dr. Chandan Kotwal – UK

On behalf of Physicians of Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora

 

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