J&K: Diplomat bats for Israeli way to resettle Pandits

Chakravorty's comment appeared to have drawn a comparison between Kashmir and Palestine, which is contrary to New Delhi's own position. India has since long been opposing Pakistan's bid to put Kashmir and Palestine in the same bracket. Photo/Screengrab

A video of a speech delivered by a diplomat of India in the United States triggered controversy, as he appeared to have argued in favour of New Delhi facilitating the return of Hindu Pandits to Kashmir following Israel's model of building settlements for Jews in Palestine.

The video, which went viral on social media, has Sandeep Chakravorty, Consul General of India in New York, saying at a private event that the culture of Kashmir was Hindu and it must be kept alive.

Islamabad lapped up the opportunity to breathe fresh life into the campaign it has been running against New Delhi ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Government on August 5 decided to strip Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) of its “special status” and reorganize the state into two Union Territories. Citing a report on the speech delivered by the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer in New York, Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan, alleged that it showed the “fascist mindset” of the Government of India.

Chakravorty, who joined the IFS in 1996, took to Twitter later on Wednesday, saying that his remarks had been “taken out of context”.

The video was apparently shot at a private event in New York. Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri and some other people of the Indian-American community were present.

(Chakravorty's byte starts at around 50 minutes 20 seconds)

“Somebody in the audience spoke about Jewish issue... the Israel issue... they kept their culture alive for 2,000 years outside their land. I think we have to keep the Kashmiri culture alive. The Kashmiri culture is the Indian culture...it is the Hindu culture,” Chakravorty, who was New Delhi's envoy to Peru and Bolivia before being posted in New York as Consul General of India in August 2017, can be heard saying in the video.

“I believe the security situation will improve, it will allow the refugees to go back, and in your lifetime, you will be able to go back…and you will be able to find security, because we already have a model in the world,” he went on saying. “I don’t know why we don’t follow it. It has happened in the Middle East. If the Israeli people can do it, we can also do it”.

Chakravorty's comment appeared to have drawn a comparison between Kashmir and Palestine, which is contrary to New Delhi's own position. India has since long been opposing Pakistan's bid to put Kashmir and Palestine in the same bracket.

“Anupamji said that in India we think about everyone else, about other's religions, but unfortunately not everyone thinks that way. I think we made the strategic blunder that we thought that everybody is thinking like us, but everybody is not thinking like us,” he is also heard saying in the video apparently referring to actor Anupam Kher.

“We should start thinking like others, and then only we will be able to beat them at their game. I think we have to do that, and that thinking is now coming,” added Chakravorty.

Several Twitter users protested against the IFS officer's remarks. “In case anyone thought Hindu supremacy is a fantasy of fringe Hindu nationalist mobs. Look at this bigot tea party. Embarrasing. Kashmir is NOT Palestine and much as they might want to believe India is NOT Israel, India is NOT RSS,” posted a non-profit professional, who uses the handle @SidrahDP. 

“This is such a dangerous commentary on the shape of things...!!! An Indian diplomat being clearly communal in rhetoric and conviction...!!! VERY ASHAMED!” posted Siddharth Ghosh, who tweets using the handle @SGCAL. 

Chakravorty has a post-graduate in advanced studies in international security from Geneva University. He served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the High Commission of India in Dhaka before being appointed as New Delhi's envoy to Peru and Bolivia. 

“I have seen some social media comments on my recent remarks. My remarks are being taken out of context,” he posted on Twitter on Wednesday.

 

Pakistan Prime Minister sought to take advantage of the remarks made by the Consul General of India in New York. “Shows the fascist mindset of the Indian govt's RSS ideology that has continued the siege of IOJK (Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir) for over 100 days, subjecting Kashmiris to the worst violation of their human rights while the powerful countries remain silent bec (because) of their trading interests,” Khan posted on Twitter on Wednesday.

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