Equal rights to the LGTBQ communities and property rights to women have only been accomplished through the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, said Kashmiri columnist and political commentator Sunanda Vashisht.
Speaking in favour of the Centre’s decision to revoke Article 370 in August, Vashisht told a Congressional hearing on Human Rights organised by Tom Lantos HR Commission in Washington, “The Indian Constitution which is modelled on the US Constitution is the most liberal document in the world. The Constitution was not applicable in totality until Article 370 was into force.”
Vashisht further added that the valley had witnessed similar horror and brutality as inflicted by the Islamic State prior to the time when the West and other international communities were apprised about the situation in Kashmir.
“We have seen ISIS level of horror and brutality in Kashmir, 30 years before the West was even introduced to the brutalities of radical Islamic terror. I am glad these hearings are happening here today because when my family and everyone like me lost our homes our livelihood and our way of life the world remained silent,” she told the hearing.
“Where were the advocates of human rights when my rights were taken away?” Vashisht asked the panellists who were present at the hearing.
“Where were they on the night of January 19, 1990, when there were voices blaring from all mosques in Kashmir that they wanted Kashmir with Hindu women but without Hindu men?”
“Where was the saviour of humanity when my feeble old grandfather stood with kitchen knives and an old rusted axe ready to kill my mother and I in order to save us from the much worse fate that awaited us?” she questioned further.
She then said, “My people were given three choices by the terrorists: flee, convert or die on the same fateful night.”
Around 400,000 Kashmiri Hindus fled right after the night of horror.
“They survived. Those who didn’t were killed. Today, 30 years later, I am still not welcome in my home in Kashmir. I am not allowed to follow my faith there. My house in Kashmir is illegally occupied as most others in my communities. And those which were not occupied have been burnt down or ransacked,” she said.
The Central government had in August announced a decision to scrap Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state in two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. The two UTs came into existence on October 31.