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US Congressman introduces resolution on Kashmiri Pandits

August 04, 2010 10:02 IST

An eminent American lawmaker has introduced a resolution in the United States House of Representatives condemning the 'extremist violence, lack of religious freedom, and human rights violations committed against Kashmiri Pandits for more than two decades now.'

Resolution introduced in the House of Representatives by New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone, recognises that the religious freedom and human rights violations of Kashmiri Pandits has been ongoing since 1989.

Noting that thousands of Kashmiri Pandits, elected officials, and military personnel have been killed in terrorist attacks; the resolution insists that terrorist infrastructure in the region must be dismantled and terrorists should be held accountable for their actions.

The resolution, which has been sent to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, has been welcomed by the Hindu American Foundation.

"Congressman Pallone's longtime focus on the issues in the region as well as his leadership as past co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans are a testament to his commitment to the community and to human rights," said Sheetal Shah, a senior director at HAF.

"By recognising the longtime suffering of Kashmiri Pandits and strengthening the joint counter-terrorism efforts of India and the United States, we can make South Asia safer for people of all faiths, including millions of Hindus," she said.

"We hope this bill will be viewed as a concrete step towards providing a safe, peaceful return for the Pandits to their ancestral homeland in Kashmir, helping undo a decades-long travesty," Shah said.

The resolution notes that Jammu and Kashmir has an ancient culture of religious tolerance and pluralism, where Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Christians practised their faith freely in an atmosphere of mutual respect and peace until 1989.

Observing that Kashmiri Pandits are the original inhabitants of Kashmir, tracing their heritage and culture back several millennia, the resolution said Kashmiri Pandits have been the victims of documented human rights violations resulting in the severe curtailment of their religious freedom for more than two decades.

As a result of this the population of Kashmiri Pandits has declined from 400,000 in 1989 to a current level of less than 4,000 in the Kashmir valley and many of them continue to live in refugee camps, the resolution said.

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