Indian journalist claims she was "set up" by pro-Pakistani US congress in congressional hearing on Kashmir
- Singh says U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing was prejudiced, biased and it was set up against India and in favour of Pakistan.
- Indian journalist expressed her disappointment on the US Congress panel gagging her during the hearings.
- Indian state has failed to protect the minorities while suppressing the majority in Occupied Kashmir: Aarti
(Karachi) Indian journalist Aarti Tikoo Singh has said she was “set up” by pro-Pakistani US congress in congressional hearing on Kashmir. Aarti said the hearing was biased as the speakers spoke in favour of Pakistan and criticised India. She also expressed her disappointment on the US Congress panel gagging her during the hearings.
Speaking at a hearing on human rights in South Asia held by the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific in Washington, the Economic Times quoted her as saying, “The United States House of Foreign Affairs Committee hearing was prejudiced, biased and it was set up against India and in favour of Pakistan.”
During her speech, Aarti Tikoo Singh also hurled criticism over Pakistan's role in Jammu and Kashmir but she also admitted the fact that Indian forces are involved in human rights abuses in the held valley.
Two other speakers of Indian descent, Nitasha Kaul and Angana Chattrjee, gave testimony critical of India. They highlighted the grave situation in Occupied Kashmir and the Indian government's hostile policies.
Speaking over the situation in Occupied Kashmir, Singh maintained the denial of democratic rights in Indian-Administered Kashmir affects not only the residents but also those living outside India and overseas. She admitted the Western and Indian press presented a "distorted reality of Kashmir".
Kashmiri Muslims have suffered most from terrorism, a truth ignored by Western media and rights groups.
She was quoted as saying by The Economic Times: "In the last 30 years, terrorists killed more Kashmiri Muslim civilians than the members of any other community in Kashmir."
"There is no human rights activist and no press in the world that feels it is their moral obligation to talk or write about the victims of Pakistani terror in Kashmir," Singh remarked.
"While they are rightly highlighting the instances of violations committed by the Indian security, the story is often presented without context that helps the perpetrators and not the human rights abuse in Kashmir," she added.
She said that although she grew up in destitution as one of the Kashmiri Pandit refugees, she was appearing at the hearing not as a representative of her community but as a "conscientious journalist who believes that the duty of a journalist is to be watchdog of society".
All by her testimony, Singh had a face-off with US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who is known for her controversial views. Omar, an immigrant from Somalia and now the U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 5th congressional district is a strong critic of Israel and shortly after she took office, she was slammed by a number of Democrats, Republicans and Jewish civil rights groups for comments about American support for Israel that they said drew on anti-Semitic tropes.
She said, "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 is caused by what you call militants".
Tikoo Singh retorted that she had reported on various issues "from human rights violations committed in Kashmir to the lynchings over beef in the mainland India." She accepted the Indian army and state police committed grave human rights abuses and the Indian state failed to protect the minorities while suppressing the majority in Occupied Kashmir.