On Sunday 19th January, the Kashmiri Pandit Cultural Society (KPCS), London commemorated 30 Years in Exile of the Kashmiri Hindu Pandits following their mass exodus from the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1990. Official figures estimate that over 350,000 Kashmiri Hindus were forced to flee from their homes following insurgent attacks unleashed by Islamist organisations. According to IDMC (internal displacement monitoring centre of the Norwegian Refugee Council) 350,621 Kashmiri Pandits have been displaced from the valley since the insurgency began.
Awakening of the Global Hindu, a first event of its kind paid special tribute to the Revered Kashmiri Hindu Saint Poetess Lalleshwari ‘Lal Ded’ and is the first of a few events throughout this year to celebrate her 700th birth anniversary. The keynote address, was delivered by Sushil Pandit, a campaigner for the rights of Kashmiri Hindu Pandits.
Acknowledging the community of survivors, as opposed to victims Pandit reminded the audience of the seven such exodus’ that had occured in the past 600 years. Additionally, he also warned about terror organisations like Jammu Kashmir Liberation front operating with impunity within the UK and being actively supported by political parties. The programme also included first-person accounts of Kashmiri Hindu genocide survivors living in the UK alongside a curated exhibition of Kashmiri artefacts.
This was followed by another such event hosted at the Houses of Parliament on Monday 20th January. Understanding the Human Rights of Minorities in Kashmir Valley was hosted by the Hon’ble Bob Blackman, Chair All Party Parliamentary, APPG group for British Hindus and KPCS, London. He reiterated that Kashmir was an integral part of India and the UK government policy is of non-interference within the internal matters of India. The event was co- chaired by Jonathan Lord, MP, Woking. The event was also attended by Rt Hon’ble Theresa Villiers and Baroness Verma who urged the British Indian community to engage with their representatives. Sonal Sher, an active member of the KPCS recalled the planned, sustained attacks by Pakistani organisations on British citizens and how British Indians were being made to feel unsafe in their own country. She spoke about her personal experiences of being targeted because of being a Hindu by Pakistani-origin Labour supporters. She also spoke about Halal food being supplied to school children without parents being fully aware and how currently there is no provision in the law so that consumers can make an informed choice to fit in within their religious, moral and ethical beliefs.
An Early Day Motion to commemorate 30 years in Exile for Kashmiri Pandits will be tabled by Hon’ble Bob Blackman, Tory MP for Harrow East. It expresses, “condolences to the families and friends of all British Hindu citizens of Kashmiri-origin who were killed, raped, injured & exterminated during this period[exodus of 1990].
“It also condemns the desecration of the holiest sites in Jammu and Kashmir; vows to protect the rights of Hindus and minorities in the U.K. facing hate crime, grooming and religious injustice; is concerned that terror supporting and sympathising individuals and organisations are thriving in the UK and posing a threat to the harmony & peace of the country and its citizens; Urges the British Government & International bodies to recognise the ethnic extermination and genocide of Kashmiri Hindus; Finally, commends the resilience and courage shown by the members of Kashmiri Hindu community who survived this gruesome ethnic genocide and who did not resort to picking up guns but instead pursued education and aspiration and today make a huge contribution to UK.”
The attendees also observed a 1 minute silence to commemorate the victims of Kashmiri Hindu genocide and commemorate Holocaust Memorial day which takes place next week.