India got the wrong end of the stick in Washington on Tuesday during a US Congressional hearing led by Democrat Congressman Brad Sherman on ‘Human Rights in South Asia’, where they criticised the Trump administration for coming out in support of the Modi government’s move to abrogate Article 370.
The hearing, organised by the Asia Subcommittee of the US House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC), was packed with Democrat lawmakers who may have been irked by the show of open bonhomie between Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump during the 'Howdy Modi' event in Houston in September.
Indian journalist Aarti Tikoo Singh was involved in a contentious exchange with the committee over the issue of human rights violations in Kashmir.
Singh called the hearing "prejudiced, biased, a setup against India and in favour of Pakistan". She said that Kashmiri Muslims have suffered most from terror attacks by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists and this had been overlooked by Western activists and world media for years.
During her testimony, Singh had a sharp exchange with US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who suggested that the journalist was catering to an audience back home and making "incredibly dubious" claims, to which Singh responded that such accusations against her were baseless and condemnable as she had “lashed out at every single government in India on various issues, from human rights violations committed in Kashmir to the lynchings over beef”.
Kashmiri-origin author Nitasha Kaul during her testimony said the government was misleading the people by claiming that by abrogating Article 370 and Article 35-A, Kashmiri women would be empowered and their rights enhanced.
Responding to Singh’s claims, Kaul said that the Kashmir issue is not a communal problem.
"There is a political problem which is compounded by human rights violations," Kaul said.
Contrary to the White House’s stance of treating Kashmir as a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, a group of US lawmakers have continually expressed concern about the security restrictions imposed on August 5, when the Indian government announced the end of special status to the state and split it into two union territories.
The lawmakers called for the release of detained politicians and activists and an end to restrictions on communication and movement of people.