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Meeting to remember 33 years of Kashmiri Pandit genocide held at UK Parliament campus, British MP slams BBC documentary as ‘propaganda’: Details

The MP also made a comment on a recent programme by the BBC about PM Modi and terming it "simply terrible propaganda". First-person testimonies and second-generation stories of Kashmiri Hindus living in Britain were shared during the event.

Earlier this week, a commemorative meeting was held in the premises of the United Kingdom parliament to mark the exodus and genocide of Kashmiri pandits that happened in Jammu and Kashmir in early 1990. The meeting was supported by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Hindus, which includes British MPs from the Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora in the United Kingdom.

Bob Blackman, Jonathan Lord, Theresa Villiers, Virender Sharma, and Lord Waverley were among the UK MPs who attended the meeting. Sarvjeet Soodan, first secretary, Political, Press, and Information also attended the meeting and represented the Indian high commission.

“The right to return to the valley..is an absolute right (of Kashmiri Pandits). We have an illegal occupation by Pakistan of sovereign India that continues”. He lauded the removal of special status for the erstwhile state, pointing, “it was imposed on a temporary basis,” said MP Bob Blackman during the meeting.

According to the reports, Bob Blackman is also the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Hindus. All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) are cross-party informal groups organised by and for Members of the Commons and Lords in the UK Parliament. Individuals and organisations from outside Parliament may be included in the group’s administration and operations. Such gatherings have occurred in the past as well.

The MP also made a comment on a recent programme by the BBC about PM Modi and terming it “simply terrible propaganda”. First-person testimonies and second-generation stories of Kashmiri Hindus living in Britain were shared during the event.

Sonal Sher moderated the event on behalf of the APPG Secretariat. “It is important that our voice is heard at the highest levels in the UK and around the world, which is why this was held at the UK House of Commons. Kashmiri Hindus want an acknowledgement of genocide from the GOI, followed by a viable roadmap of how our people can safely be repatriated (on our terms),” she said.

“We commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, and it is only right that our story is not forgotten or erased. The world narrative on Kashmir has been seized by Pakistan when it has nothing to do with Kashmir. As the indigenous inhabitants of the valley, we want to ensure that our voices and our concerns are centered. Justice may be delayed but it will not be denied to us,” she added.

Meanwhile, MP Bob Blackman reaffirmed his backing for India and the Kashmiri Hindu community, and reminded them that it was Pakistan’s attack on Kashmir that led to the former Maharaja acceding to India.

On January 19, 1990, Kashmiri Pandits were forcibly removed from their homeland as a result of a brutal campaign initiated by Pakistan-backed terrorists to ethnically cleanse the Valley. On this day, in 1990, lakhs of Kashmiri Hindus were forced into exile by the Islamist violence that included targeted killings of Hindus in the valley. There were announcements made from mosques asking Kashmiri Hindu men to leave the valley, leaving their women behind. The chants of ‘convert (to Islam), leave or die’ echoed in the valley.

According to estimates, roughly 100,000 of the valley’s total 140,000 Kashmiri Pandit inhabitants migrated between February and March 1990. More of them fled in the years that followed until just about 3,000 families remained in the valley by 2011.

It has been 33 years and the Pandits are still looking up to the political dispensation for redressal and resettlement in the Valley but have faced opposition from the usual suspects who allege that resettlement would impact the demography in the state.

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