Several Indian-American organizations and community leaders joined the organization, Indian Americans For Kashmir (IAFK), on Jan. 19, 2020, in the TV Asia auditorium in Edison, N.J. to “(a) Commemorate the Kashmiri Pandit (Hindu) Genocide that began on January 19, 1990 and (b) To recognize the resiliency and noble spirit of the survivors of that community.”
More than 20 organisations in the Tri-state area and numerous Indian and American dignitaries, local politicians and mainstream personalities joined to show solidarity with and recognize the difficult journey and struggles of Kashmiri Hindus, a press release from IAFK said.
Organizers said the event “presented the truth, data and factual stories as well as current events and progress” in restoring peace in Kashmir state of India. More than 300 hundred attendees participated in event.
Dr Raj Bhayani, the chairman of the IAFK emphasised the need for Indian-Americans to come together and educate mainstream Western media, non Indian-Americans, politicians from both parties and understand what he called, the dangers facing West Bengal and Kerala in the future.
Dr. Bhayani emphasised that the lesson learned from Kashmir “should make us all more pro active and be ready for dealing with jihadist evil at the door steps of India, USA and all over the world,” the press release said.
Members of the Kashmiri Pandit community and the Indian-American community in general, consider the Western media coverage of Kashmir as one-sided, including hearings on Capitol Hill, which have not adequately covered the plight of Kashmiri Hindus over the last 30 years.
Now with the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution which did away with the Special Status of former Jammu & Kashmir, “the backlash” this “one-sided” coverage inspired members of the Indian-American community to come together and form the organization – Indian Americans For Kashmir.
Mohan Wanchoo, a Kashmiri Pandit and co-founder of IAFK, narrated the atrocities Kashmiri Pandits faced in 1990 starting on this day, showing a video of emotional stories of survivors who fled the Kashmir Valley under threat.
The chief guest of the event was Hollywood-Bollywood actor and activist Anupam Kher, who gave an emotional speech that contained stories about the fate of some Kashmiri Hindus, including violence and torture.
TV Asia’s Chairman and CEO H. R. Shah introduced Kher and emphasised focus on future and development of Kashmir.
Padma Shri Dr Sudhir Parikh, chairman of Parikh Worldwide media, in his speech said he will work hard to get right narrative on Kashmir in mainstream media.
“I am truly saddened that a tragedy of this magnitude went so underreported, so under covered ,,, right up to this day,” Dr. Parikh said, adding, “Truth and tragedy both suffered in the process…both needed to be known to all Indian-Americans, all Indians and all over the world. I am sure in today’s world this tragedy would not have remained hidden.”
“I will do what I can to continue to educate the world and Indian-Americans about this tragedy through my media entities – TV, print and digital media,” Dr. Parikh emphasized.
Former Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of California, who connected with the audience via a video call, emphasized that President Trump and himself were with Kashmiri Hindus and American Hindus, and that the world needs to know the real truth about Kashmir genocide and America stands with them in solidarity, the press release said quoting him.
Dr. Binod Sinha of New Brunswick, N.J., stressed the need for creating one platform nationally to bring all Hindus together and raise funds for the cause.
Anil Bansal President FIA also spoke at the event lending his support to the efforts of IAFK.
Dev Karlekar, committee member of IAFK, asked those present to observe a minute of silence as a sign of respect in memory of Kashmiri who were killed.
Nikunj Trivedi, activist from the Hindu Students Council, emphasised involving youth and next generation Hindus at different university campuses and create a support system for them to make the Hindu students councils stronger
Vibhuti Jha, co-founder of IAFK, was master of ceremonies and welcomed the crowd. He told Desi Talk IAFK wanted to bring the story of the suffering of Kashmir Pandits to the world. “The event was very successful particularly in light of the fact that it was our first. And especially the audience participation was absolutely fantastic in terms of the respect and attention they gave to the proceedings at the event,” Jha said.
Former New Jersey State Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula also spoke at the event, emphasizing the need to counter the misinformation being spread and need for Hindu unity to counter that.
New Jersey State Senator Samuel D. Thompson, a Republican, said “it was the first time he learned about this genocide and it is unacceptable at any level that this even ever happened and world does not know about it,” the press release said.
Renee Leene from Voice of India contended that the New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, was ill informed about India and that there was a need to educate him about India’s tolerance and true secular structure, according to the press release.
Other speakers included community activists Rajylaxmi and Atma Singh as well as Mukesh Modi who emphasized world Hindu unity.
Rakesh Kaul, co-founder of IAFK and Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora, sent his best wishes from Delhi.
Another speaker, Ram Sachdev, a Sindhi activist, dwelt on what his family and father went through during partition, a story that brought tears in eyes of some attendees, the press release said.
The program concluded with vote of thanks by Falguni Pandya, committee member of IAKF and Joyce Mehta, member of the Board of Education in New Jersey.