BY DEVIKA C. MEHTA
ARTESIA, CA - Tragedies are real, memories are painful and voices incoherent when the loss of refugees, their household and partition flashbacks come to mind. The
on the occasion of World Refugee Day. Coming forth, two US based non-profit organizations marked the day with a show of strength and discussions that awakened people about the issues many communities have been facing for a long time now.
For the fifth time in a row, the Kashmiri Hindu Foundation and Jagriti, along with many Indo-American families came together to commemorate United Nations World Refugee Day at Tara’s Himalayan Cuisine here on July 16.
The event saw the presence of world leaders from Balochistan, Sindh, human rights activists and Kashmiri Hindus on one platform. Through talks and speeches, they all discussed atrocities committed on their denizens and explored solutions for the generations to come. The event, which began with the national song ‘Vande Mataram’, was followed by anthems of both US and India. Later, a 30-second silence was observed by Vijay Patil, Overseas Friends of BJP - USA and other attendees to honor the victims of the Amarnath Yatra terrorist attack that happened in India recently.
Kashmiri Hindu Foundation member Dr Amrit Nehru, himself a Kashmiri, took to the stage and vividly described the suffering, brutalities and human rights violations of Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir at the hands of Pakistani trained, funded and supported terrorists. He talked about the ethnic cleansing of his community from their homeland of Kashmir and appealed to the civilized world to help reverse their forced exile. Noted poet, author and founder of ‘Jagriti’, Kamlesh Chauhan also talked about the valor of Indian soldiers and presented plaques to those present including Retired Col Raj Sohi, Major Gurjeet Singh, Captain Geetinder Singh, Captain RD Singh and US veteran Ray Cordova, who came on stage and shared their perspectives on war and the refugee crisis.
World Sindh Congress General Secretary, Dr Saghir Ahmed Shaikh spoke about the conditions of Sindhi population in Sindh and went on to say that people of his land are secular by nature, but it is the hegemony of Punjab that has brought in miseries to Hindu Sindhis with kidnappings and conversions.
Supporting him was Aziz Baloch, human rights activist, coordinator of the Voice for Baloch
He added, “It’s time for respected world bodies to honor the
Dr. Richard Benkin, a Human Rights activist lauded the efforts of the Los Angeles Indian-American community and
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (CA 48th District) was unable to make it to the event, but District Director Kathleen Staunton brought in his message and said, “Kashmir Hindu Foundation and Jagriti have done a commendable job. Today we celebrate the courage and bravery of people leaving their homeland, which is an amazing achievement. Meetings like these are significant as we are able to hear direct concerns and act accordingly.”
The audience that comprised of nearly 350 guests also enthusiastically participated in several panel discussions. The Q&A session was very lively. Concluding the event was an award ceremony where all leaders were felicitated and presented glass trophies for their distinct and brave approach towards life. Chauhan and Nehru were thanked for organizing the memorable function. Cordova, who served both in the Korea and Vietnam wars, also presented plaques on behalf of `South County Labor, AFL-CIO ’ to Nehru and Chauhan for their outstanding work in raising concern on human rights of Kashmiri Hindus and other communities.
A delicious lunch was served amid patriotic songs that entertained the audience.