It was laughable to see the excitement caused in the Indian American community over Joe Biden’s choice of Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. As an Indian American immigrant, we feel proud that children of first-generation immigrants can have the same opportunities as others, to aspire for the highest position in this great country we call our home. But character is more important than ancestry. “A watershed moment in the history of United States” is a comment I saw on social media from an Indian American. I burst into laughter as if it were a joke. But it was not a joke, for some innocent Indians really think like that. Just because she happens to be half-Indian (her mother is of Indian origin), some get a sense of belonging. But will Kamala Harris even be sympathetic and considerate towards her mother’s country, and worse, to her own country? The answer to these questions are, evidently, no, as you will see below.
Kamala Harris spoke about her Indian-born mother as “a woman born with a sense of justice imprinted on her soul” and claimed that “concepts of human rights and activism seem to be genetically passed in our household where your maternal grandparents were freedom fighters.” Kamala Harris has every reason to be proud of her lineage, but as an Indian American who originally came from Kashmir, I was shocked to hear her statements on Kashmir.
When she was directly asked during her presidential campaign in September about her message for Kashmiris who are suffering from human rights abuses, and the role the US could play in alleviating the situation, she said: “It is about reminding people that they are not alone, that we are watching. Because, so often when we see human rights abuses, whether it be in this country or around the world, the abuser will convince those that they abuse that nobody cares and nobody is paying attention, which is a tool of an abuser.”
Who is the abused and who is the abuser? The abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution and the reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir in India, which Kamala Harris calls an “abuse” or violation of human rights, is in truth the restoration, not the suppression, of human rights. The Constitution of India, with the fundamental human rights enshrined in it, would not be applicable to Jammu and Kashmir if that temporary provision of Article 370 were in force. These provisions were used by those in Muslim-majority areas of Kashmir to render my family and over half a million members of my community homeless for the last 31 years. It treated the rest of Indians as second-class citizens in Kashmir.
What is indeed disappointing is that Harris said, “If the United States in any meaningful way will have any influence on what is happening in Kashmir, we need to have a representative on the ground in Pakistan.” Pakistan is the country that sponsored the cross-border terrorism against Kashmiri Hindus and India. It is also the country that supported and abetted 9/11 and brought about the loss of many American lives, American soldiers.
Would Kamala Harris say that as Muslims’ demography changes in US states such as Minnesota, that they have right to drive away all non-Muslims from the state, and while Muslims in Minnesota have the right to buy land anywhere in America, Americans outside Minnesota have no right to buy land or even settle in Minnesota? Worse, what would Harris say if the law stipulated that if a Muslim woman in Minnesota marries an American outside Minnesota, she will stand to lose her rights in the state!
I will explain what happened, what I personally experienced, which Kamala Harris chooses to completely ignore. More than 30 years ago, in 1989, half a million Kashmiri Hindus were ethnically cleansed and driven away from Kashmir by Kashmiri Muslims supported by Pakistan, solely because they were not Muslim. I heard the blares of the mosques across Kashmir, asking Hindu men to leave the state and leave our women behind. I vividly remember coming home from work when I heard that a Kashmiri Hindu leader Tikalal TapLoo was murdered outside his home in broad daylight, just blocks away from my own home. Another victim, Sarla Bhat, was kidnapped and later gang-raped and killed. A schoolteacher, Girja Tickoo, was abducted and raped, and her body was cut apart on a bandsaw machine while she was still alive. Information director Poshkar Nath Handoo was sprayed with bullets outside his home while leaving for work. Sarwanand Kaul Premi and his 27-year-old son were taken away from their home; Sarwanand Kaul Premi was later found with his forehead pierced by an iron rod and his skin peeled off. These are just a few examples. Many such brutal killings terrorized the entire population of my community and forced us to abandon our homes.
For the last 31 years, not even one of us could go back to our ancestral home in Kashmir, our home for thousands of generations. Our temples were systematically destroyed, our homes occupied. Even the street names were changed, to wipe away any traces of our existence. We had been refugees in our own country. Some lived on the charity of relatives. Many are still living in squalid camps or overcrowded rooms (sometimes 8 to 10 people in one room). Thousands died just from snake bites in the camps. Many died due to the stress of living in cramped places after being uprooted from their homes. We have many such stories to tell, if someone cares to listen. But Kamala Harris does not believe that our human rights are being violated. Perhaps she would not even acknowledge us as human beings.
And what does Kamala Harris have to say about the small attempt by the Indian government to correct these injustices? She said, “And part of our value is that we speak out about human rights abuses and where appropriate, we intervene. So that is how I would lead as a commander in chief, with that as a value, that would be an important value with which I would lead and immediately restock the State Department.” Driven by blind ambition for power, sold to certain interests, she has lost her moral compass (or, perhaps, she never had one) to the point of threatening the Indian government for daring to attempt to redress these injustices.
I am an Indian American who made this country home for the past 20+ years, and I believe that Kamala Harris is an opportunist and a hypocrite, just another pawn running on the agenda of Marxist socialism and Islamism. She represents a political party that has been radicalized and taken over by anarchists with an anti-American agenda. As a senior journalist rightly said, the radical elements in the Democratic Party want Stalin’s ghost brought back from the dead. It couldn’t be worse.
Deepak Ganju is a displaced Kashmiri Hindu, founding Director of the Kashmir Hindu Foundation, and managing Editor of the monthly online Shehjar magazine, a leading publication reaching over ten thousand readers. An engineer by training and an entrepreneur by profession, Ganju and his family were forced to leave their home and hearth in Kashmir in the wake of an Islamic terrorist onslaught from across the border. Deepak has undergone the traumatic experience of being a refugee from Kashmir, and is now settled in the US.