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Congressional Commission to Hold Hearing on Kashmir Issue Months After Govt Revoked its Special Status

The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission has invited Anurima Bhargava, Commissioner, US Commission on International Religious Freedom as witness in the first panel for the hearing.

PTI

Updated:November 14, 2019, 10:20 AM IST
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Congressional Commission to Hold Hearing on Kashmir Issue Months After Govt Revoked its Special Status
Paramilitary soldiers stand guard during security lockdown in Srinagar. (File photo: AP)

Washington: Loaded with known anti-India panelists, a bipartisan Congressional Commission on Thursday is all set to hold a hearing on human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir after the Indian government revoked the special status of the state.

India on August 5 withdrew Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories.

The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission has invited Anurima Bhargava, Commissioner, US Commission on International Religious Freedom as witness in the first panel for the hearing.

Raising eyebrows over the real intentions of the Commission, congressional observers said its Co-Chairs Congressmen James P McGovern and Christopher H Simth, announced the hearing without notice and has chosen a panel that is "loaded against India".

The notice of the hearing, that took Friends of India at the Capitol by surprise, is expected to be a one-sided affair and is likely to see yet another round of India bashing by a group of lawmakers and half-a-dozen partisan witnesses selected by the Commission.

One of the panelists, Kashmiri American Yousra Fazili, is the niece of Mubeen Shah, a detained Kashmiri businessman and the main organiser of child stone pelters in the Valley.

She wrote an article for Foreign Policy in November 2010 titled, Kashmir protests go digital. Witness in the second panel of the hearing, Arjun S Sethi, adjunct professor at Georgetown Law on Kashmir tweeted on November 9, the decision will embolden mob violence, genocide & impunity across India.

Panelist Haley Duschinski, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Law, Justice and Culture, Ohio University, has been the organiser of pro-Pak rallies outside the UN headquarters in New York during the annual General Assembly sessions.

Sehla Ashai, a senior staff attorney at the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America, has denounced India governing Kashmir.

John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch had previously testified at a Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hearing in June 2016.

The announcement of the hearing by the Lantos Committee comes on the heels of a blatant one-sided hearing last month on Jammu and Kashmir.

India had termed as "regrettable" criticism by several US Congressmen over the situation in Kashmir, and said the comments reflected a very limited understanding of the country's history and its pluralistic society.

Congressional observers suspect this due to the massive political funding by groups believed to be Pakistani-Americans and those close to the Pakistani establishment.

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