Kashmiri Pandits seek central probe against Amnesty

INDIA-POLITICS-PROTEST Activists from the Citizens For Democracy organisation hold placards and candles as they take part in a demonstration in support of the Army and against Amnesty International in Bengaluru | AFP

Displaced Kashmiri Pandits in Bengaluru dared the Amnesty International to publish a report on the human rights violations and atrocities perpetrated by Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hijbul Mujahideen and its followers like Burhan Wani.

“A central agency should probe into all the activities of the Amnesty for being selective in its protest against human rights violation. The NGO should come out and openly condemn slogan shouting during the event organised by them,” demanded R.K. Mattoo, chairman of the Kashmiri Hindu Cultural Welfare Trust in Bengaluru.

Earlier this week, the Trust had filed a complaint against the NGO for “allowing” anti-national slogan shouting during an event organised by it on August 13.

“Amnesty International’s report titled Denied: Failures in accountability for human rights violations by security force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir (on which the Bengaluru event ‘Broken Families’ was based) provides a biased perspective and negatively contributes to protection of human rights in the Valley. So, Amnesty should immediately introspect and inquire into their report making process,” said a statement released by the Trust.

The Trust had demanded that the NGO also focus on the plight of five lakh Hindus who fled Kashmir decades ago and pursue rehabilitation of Pundits with the Indian government. “Their reports should focus on the three lakh Sikhs under threat by separatists in the Valley and the victims in Shopian incident, where more than 2,000 Kashmiri Pandits employees were tortured and forced to flee and their reports should reflect on the bloodbath and terror unleashed by separatists in the Valley.”

Warning the NGO against fuelling the propaganda of the separatists by inciting people against the Indian Army and the Indian establishment, Mattoo says, “Kashmiris are subject to systematic misinformation campaign and Amnesty International should demonstrate its commitment to human rights by going beyond stereotype report generation and start focussing on problem solving. They cannot claim neutrality by producing reports funded by the UK. Stone pelting against the forces should be recognised as an act of human rights violation and Amnesty should learn about Udhan and other initiatives of our Army in rehabilitating the victims of terrorism.”

Questioning the neutrality of Amnesty, Mattoo narrated the sequence of events that lead to sloganeering. “The programme was initially not designed to include the voices of the Kashmiri Pandits. But after I questioned them through my Facebook post, they invited me to speak. I spoke on the exodus of five lakh Kashmiri pundits after brutal killing of around 800 of them by Islamic militants in 1989-90. During her speech, Ms Tara Rao, director of Amnesty International gave wrong statistics about casualties involving Pundits and agreed to make corrections when pointed out by audience.”

The Trust lamented the fact that the NGO screened three videos of the victims (all Kashmiri Muslim families) but did not allow screening of And The World Remained Silent, an eight-minute film by Ashok Pandit.

“My positive remarks about the Indian Army was shouted down by some people in the audience. And chaos followed,” rued Mattoo.

Interestingly, the Karnataka government has chosen to give a clean chit to Amnesty International even as a probe into the sedition charges (following an FIR by the ABVP) is underway.

“I have not heard of Amnesty International being involved in any seditious activity so far,” said Home Minister G. Parameshwar.

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