New Delhi: Outlining the concerns of Pakistani terror victims in Jammu and Kashmir, senior Indian journalist from Kashmir, Aarti Tikoo Singh, at a US congressional hearing, asserted that human rights activists and world media have completely ignored the 30 years of terror in the Valley.
“The fundamental point that I am trying to make is the victims in Kashmir are the ones who have been killed and massacred by Pakistani sponsored terrorists. The number of Kashmiri Muslims who have been killed in Kashmir is immense and they have been victimised by the Pakistani terror state”, the Indian journalist said at the hearing on human rights in South Asia held by the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific in Washington.
Continuing further,”What the foot-soldiers of the Pakistani military and ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) have done to ordinary Kashmiri Muslims in the last 30 years, pales in comparison to the human rights violations committed by the Indian state. In the last 30 years, militants killed more Kashmiri Muslim civilians than the members of any other community in Kashmir”
She claimed that the Western press and a section of the Indian press present a “distorted reality of Kashmir”.
“There are no human rights activists and press in the world who feel it’s their moral obligation to talk about victims of Pakistani terror in Kashmir. While they are rightly highlighting the instances of violations committed by the Indian security, the story is often presented without context and historical understanding and it also carries a lot of certitude and self-righteousness of a narrative that helps the perpetrators and not the human rights abuse in Kashmir,” she added.
Talking about senior Kashmiri journalist, Shujaat Bukhari, who was killed by Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists last year, Singh said,”Bukhari was killed by the terrorist group which is banned by the US and carried out the Mumbai attack in 2008 because he “wanted Pakistan to end the violence and human rights abuse in Kashmir” and “because he wanted peace.”
Besides, she also spoke of other victims of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir, including the incident of Ghulam Mohiuddin Mir– a Kashmiri businessman, who was shot dead on August 29 by Pakistani-sponsored terrorists because he had dared to open his shop defying the orders of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
“Jaish, since the last two months, has been issuing posters, warning Kashmiri Muslims not to resume their normal lives,” Tikoo told the Congressional hearing.
Attacking Singh at the hearing, US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar said that she knew of the “enormous audience at The Times of India” and “I am aware of how the narrative shaped by reporting can distort the truth I am also aware of how it can be limited to`sharing only the official side of the story. “The press is at its worst when it is a mouthpiece for a government. In your version of the story, the only problem in Kashmir are caused by what you call militants”, Omar targeted Singh.
The Indian journalist later asked the Subcommittee Chair Brad Sherman to allow her to respond to Omar. She said that she had reported on various issues “from human rights violations committed in Kashmir to the lynchings over beef in the mainland India.”
“I have record of being non-partisan throughout in my profession of the last 20 years. So for Ms Omar to say such accusations against me is really condemnable”, Singh retorted.
(With agency inputs)