New Delhi: India’s consul general in New York, Sandeep Chakravorty, has advocated the Israeli model for Kashmiri Pandits to reclaim their land and culture.
In a video that has gone viral, Chakravorty also slammed the US Congress for its uneasiness in dealing with an India that is asserting the strength of its Hindu majority in conducting diplomacy.
The government has not yet responded to Chakravorty’s speech, which took place at a private event with expat Kashmiri Pandits in New York. But Chakravorty himself tweeted Wednesday evening that his remarks were being taken out of context.
I have seen some social media comments on my recent remarks. My remarks are being taken out of context.
— Sandeep Chakravorty (@CHAKRAVIEW1971) November 27, 2019
The Israeli model
Responding to a woman’s statement that she does not feel like going back to Kashmir as she feels like an “alien” there, Chakravorty said: “The Jews kept their culture alive for 2,000 years outside their land and they went back. I think we all have to keep the Kashmiri culture alive, the Kashmiri culture is the Indian culture, it is the Hindu culture.”
“We already have a model in the world, I do not know why do not follow it. It has happened in the Middle East. If the Israeli people can do it, we can also do it. I think we should follow from there and push our leadership, otherwise what is the point (in revoking Article 370)? Things will remain the same,” Chakravorty added.
“I believe that in my lifetime we will have our land back, our people have to go back, because not everybody can live in the United States. My fellow Kashmiris are living in refugee camps, living in Jammu, living on the streets, they have to go back to their homes. And there won’t be fear for your life. Give us some time, I think that government done what is has done,” the consul general said.
“Such a big international risk the government has never taken only to make one amendment. You should think beyond. Today, we ran the risk of international opprobrium, the international community could have united against us, there was an international diplomatic struggle, we have successfully stalled it. Give some time, you see what is going to happen. I believe the security condition in J&K will improve, it will allow refugees to go back, and in your lifetime, you will be able to go back and you will visit your villages and go back to your roots,” he told the gathering.
‘1989 was a big failure’
The consul general began his speech stating that the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in 1989 was a “big failure” on the part of the government of the day.
“What happened in 1989 was a big failure of the Indian state. We should not have allowed that to happen. India in 1989 was a very weak country, we had just come out of the terrorism and proxy war in Punjab and we had come out of Mrs (Indira) Gandhi’s assassination and we all know what happened in Punjab,” Chakravorty said.
“And then our enemy hit us in Kashmir. Our state should have done what we did in 1947-48, we did not do that and we let it deteriorate. And till 5 August (2019), more or less that same narrative was playing,” he said.
He also said the basic idea of why the Modi government chose to make Kashmir a union territory is because it wanted to bring the Valley under “direct rule of the Central government”.
“What happened on 5 August will have long-term repercussions for the Kashmiri people,” he said.
US Congress doesn’t like India’s assertiveness
Chakravorty, who took charge as India’s consul general in New York on August 2017, also slammed the international community, particularly the US Congress, for “dragging” India into discussions and resolutions at various human rights council over the Kashmir issue.
He said the international community, including the US, is feeling uneasy as India is increasingly “asserting” its strength as a Hindu majority community in conducting diplomacy.
“We have never used the strength as a majority community, we have never used the strength of our Hindu culture, of our ancient civilisation, in diplomacy. We never used it. Now that we are doing it, people are feeling uneasy,” he said.
“Now that we are doing it, people are dragging us to Human Rights Councils, passing resolutions against us, the US Congress is dragging us… Why can’t they go somewhere else? You go to Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, but you do not talk about that. Why do you want to come to us? They are not liking that we are asserting ourselves,” Chakravorty added.