Columnist and writer Sunanda Vashisht, who has spent years writing on the conflict-ridden state of Jammu and Kashmir, spoke about the plight of Kashmiri Pandits in the region at a US Congressional hearing on Human Rights in Washington on Thursday. She recounted the horrific treatment meted out to the Kashmiri Hindus in the 1990s at the hearing held by the Tom Lantos HR Commission in Washington.

“Today I am delighted that Kashmiris have the same rights as Indian citizens. If something as serious as a woman’s right to own property and granting of LGBTQ rights…to choose…amongst many others, has been accomplished through abrogation of Article 370, then it is safe to assume that restoration of the Internet in few remaining districts of Kashmir is not too far away,” she said, India Today reported.

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“I am a proud daughter of Kashmir,” she added. “Terrorism has uprooted me and snatched my home from me. I hope my human rights are restored too someday, and the human rights of my community.”

Her talk was one among many that have happened in the recent past in US Congressional panels where Indian luminaries have spoken about humanitarian crisis of Kashmir after the Indian state abrogated section 370 on August 5 stripping the state of its special status and reducing Kashmir to a territory. Since the abrogation of Section 370, Kashmir has been under a communication lockdown for over 100 days now with brief relief to the territory when the central government allowed postpaid network but closed it back again after protests broke out in the area.

Vashisht’s talk deals with the Islamist terror that the state-turned-territory saw much before the Western countries faced it. She said, “Terrorists trained by Pakistan had caused “ISIS level of horror and brutality” in the Kashmir Valley long before the West was even introduced to the brutalities of radical Islamic terror. International cooperation in India’s fight against terror would also solve the human rights problem in the state.

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.” Vashisht, NDTV reported.

“India’s democratic credentials are unmatched. The country has successfully, in a democratic setup, defeated insurgencies in Punjab and the northeast. It is time to strengthen India against such insurgencies and the human rights problems will be solved forever,” she adds.

“Terrorism has uprooted me and snatched my home from me. I hope my human rights are restored too someday, and the human rights of my community.”

“Where were the advocates of human rights when my rights were taken away? 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 me in order to save us from the much worse fate that awaited us? All deaths have been happening due to terrorists trained by Pakistan. This doublespeak is not helping India in any way,” the columnist stressed before the gathering.

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This is the second hearing held by the US Congress on the Kashmir conflict in the last three weeks since the valley has been under massive security restrictions. While most speakers in the US Congress hearings have been those who have publicly criticised the abrogation of Section 370 in Kashmir, Vashisht spoke in favour of it and even questioned the human rights activists for not speaking up during the crisis of Kashmiri Hindus.

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