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July 15, 1999
Pallone Takes Up for Kashmiri Pandits
A P Kamath in Washington
Asserting that the Pakistan-backed militants in Jammu and Kashmir have turned the state into a "killing field", Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr, said in the House of Representatives that the "long-ignored plight of the Kashmiri Pandits" has to be paid attention to.
"Now that Pakistan has apparently agreed to withdraw its fighters who had crossed onto India's side of the Line of Control", Pallone, a Democrat representing the sixth district of New Jersey, said on Tuesday that the United States and the world community should turn to the plight of the Pandits.
Detailing how the entire population of 300,000 Kashmiri Pandits "has been forced to leave their ancestral homes and property", he said, "They have been turned into refugees in their own country."
Pallone asked his colleagues in joining him to sign a letter to the National Human Rights Commission of India to reconsider its decision not to term the violence against the Pandits "genocide".
The NHRC should also reconsider its rejection of the request to define the Pandits as 'Internally Displaced Persons', Pallone said.
"I have often cited India's Human Rights Commission as a model for other Asian nations, and developing nations the world over," he added. "It is an example of India's commitment to democracy and the rule of law. I am sure the commission will give serious considerations to these requests."
Even before the intrusion into Kargil began, there has been "a disturbing pattern of massacre of civilians carried out by the militants in Kashmir," Pallone said.
"While it is predominantly Hindus who are victims of these attacks, we have also seen attacks on the Muslims who have dared to assist the legitimate state authorities in putting a halt to violence," Pallone, one of the staunchest defenders of India in Washington, said.
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