Bethesda, Maryland, Sunday, October 6, 2019 — The Jewish-Islamic Dialogue Society of Washington (JIDS) organized an open dialogue titled, “If You Could Make a Plea, What Would it Be?”

The First topic was about Israel and Palestine Conflict – presented by three speakers; Hal Kassoff, Kay Halpern, and Dan Spiro.

The second topic was about the Kashmir Conflict – Presented by two speakers, Dr. Mohan Sapru and Dr. Mike Ghouse and this is the focus of my observations.

Dr. Mohan Sapru on far-right and Dr. Mike Ghouse on the left. 

The dialogue on Kashmir encourages me to continue to engage. I am glad to interact with the people who see things in a different light. The differences were amazing, indeed, if you watch Fox News and MSNBC, you can see how much they differ on the same subject.

On my part, I will continue to do my share of fixing the world and continue with the dialogue to find a solution for the people of Kashmir. As a Muslim, I am blessed to have stood up for the rights of people from Atheists to Zoroastrians and everyone in between, including LGBTQ and Native Americans. That is my documented record.

Dr. Sapru and many of my fellow Indian Americans who attended the event believed that the abrogation of article 370 of the constitution was the right thing and had freed the Kashmiri People. Whereas, I saw it as a betrayal of the democratic values by imposing their unilateral views on people without their consent.

They interpreted the consent of the governed when the Indian Parliament passed the abrogation bill the day after the blockade. In a democracy, it should never happen, and it will never happen in the United States. It is like the US Government passing laws and imposing on the state of Maryland to follow without the consent of the people of Maryland.

In India, the Central Government has attempted to impose the Hindi language as the official language in the state of Tamil Nadu, which they resisted, and the central government had to back off. Even Modi, as a Chief Minister of the State of Gujarat, challenged the rules passed by the Central Government, such is the freedom given to the states in India.

In case the case of Kashmir, neither the Kashmiri politicians nor the public were consulted, the Modi Government decided to sneak on them in the darkness of the night.

Literally, the Army was placed on every street of Kashmir imposed a curfew, shut down the phone lines and internet, and put the politicians on house arrest. That is the danger of a one-person rule. Unfortunately, India is a developed nation run by a third world leader who does not respect the freedom of his subjects.

In some of the examples cited below, you can see how misinformed our Indian friends are. It is our responsibility to share the facts with them whether they reject or accept it.

There was a comment that the women are free in Kashmir now, and they don’t lose the right to their property if they marry someone from outside of Kashmir. He got thunderous applause as if the law was a Muslim law and it is gone now. I was hoping Dr. Sapru, a Kashmiri Pandit himself would have corrected them, the domicile law article 35 was enacted by the Maharaja in the year 1939 upon the request of Hindu Pandits to preserve the Kashmiri land to Kashmiris only.

Another Indian American declared that he will hold my feet to the fire; he assumed that I would oppose the freedom to the LGBTQ community. I am for freedom for every human, and I made that very clear to him. He said, with the abrogation of article 370, the LGBTQ community has freedom in Kashmir now, he acted as if he got me cornered. I was not there to win or lose, I was there to find a solution and share the facts. I pointed out that there is no need to single out Kashmir, that was the law throughout India, the Supreme court had rejected the same-sex marriage in 2013, It is in the last two years the Supreme court has reversed the rule.  https://www.opednews.com/articles/Same-Sex-marriage-criminal-by-Mike-Ghouse-Court-Challenge_Decision-making_GLBT_GLBT-131227-613.html

The possibility of nuclear war was blamed as Pakistani propaganda. I responded with what the home minister Rajnath had said, “the first option to nuclear strike is off the table.” Indeed, it amounted to a threat. A good man from Bara Mulla denied that the Home Minister could say that. Here is the link https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/rajnath-singh-says-india-could-use-nukes-first-if-circumstances-demand-119081601939_1.html

Dr. Sapru denied the figures I quoted in my talk, and I understand his point of view. That is the precise reason it makes sense for the Indian government to open up Kashmir to find the facts. Indeed, they have rejected the visas to the commissioners of the United States Commission on Religious freedom to go on a fact-finding mission and report the truth.

If India has a clean record, it will get a clean chit (as it is called) in India. If not, the Indian government has to rectify the wrongdoings and earn a clean chit. Here again, I am disappointed, for most of the Modi supporters, not all though, facts don’t matter.

If freedom is not restored, India may get a label of “Country of Particular Concern” by the (USCIRF) commission and the Department of State. That will put a brake on foreign direct investments, as it has happened with South Africa. The losers would be the IT employees and employers who have had tremendous success and prosperity in the last 20 plus years. There is a movement in America to stop doing business with nations that don’t honor human rights and religious freedom to their populations. India will be at a greater loss if the average Indian does not speak out.

This week, the Government of India denied entry to the US Senator Chris Van Hollen to enter Kashmir, that was a blunder. Democracies don’t act that way. What is that the Government of India hiding? Mass graves? Thousands of blinded children with pellet guns, abducted youth, raped women? Did thousand of detainees with no charges bother the Indian Government? It has happened before in the Jammu Massacre of nearly 200,000 Muslims in the late ’40s, Kandhamal Christian Massacre of 2007, the Nellie Massacre of 1983, Sikh Genocide in 1984, Gujarat Massacre of Muslims in 2001.  Thousands of Sikh Mothers are still waiting to find out about their children? The Gujarat massacre victims are yet to get Justice. Injustice will ‘rot’ the nation and its civilization, and produce ruthless men and women who do not care about life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

As an Indian American, I am embarrassed about the attitudes of my fellow Indian Americans who defend the politicians of their choice at all costs? It is cult worship, the worship of one man who is superior to God, and whose word is the whole truth. The people who don’t question the government are allowing the politicians to continue to make the mistakes, an unpatriotic act.

In August this year, the Hindu America Foundation announced its support for the abrogation of article 370 in a Religious meeting. I was taken back and wondered all day long if my fellow Indian Americans understand freedom? If they know what the consent of the governed means? Being Americans, how can they support dictatorial attitudes?

I am proud of all those Indian Americans who question the government and will not believe the Government propaganda until the facts are gathered. I urge all the people on the earth to take it as their patriotic duty to question their respective governments.

For the Politicians, Hindu Pandits and Muslims are toys to play with for their benefit. If they were serious about solving the problems, they would have compensated and rehabilitated the Kashmiri Pandits some 25 years ago. The politicians have talked about the issue for years for political advantage but never meant to solve it. We should figure out ourselves between people to people, and not trust the selfish dirty politicians to find solutions. The Kashmiri Muslims had called the Pandits to come back home, many of them are still holding the keys that the Pandits left with them for safekeeping.

Conclusion

I was seeking to conclude the talk by bringing all the different parties to agreeing to find solutions. Thank God, the moderator Fatima Argun gave us all 2 minutes to make the concluding remarks.

My turn came, and I took the cue from our friend from Bara Mullah and made the appeal to my fellow Indian Americans. Please spend your energies and efforts on restoring those good old days that almost everyone had mentioned growing up with Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs.

The concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum in Hinduism is similar to the wisdom in Islam, Christianity, and Judaism that we are one large family from Adam and Eve.

If we feel the pain of a Hindu Pandit when he is forced out of his/her home, a Muslim woman is the target of lust and children who have been blinded with the pellet guns, then there is hope, and we will figure out how to live with others freely.

I urged everyone to use the language as if they all are going to live together tomorrow and avoid the words that will create barriers.

None of us is responsible for the acts of the previous leaders or generations, but we are accountable for our actions. Let’s free ourselves from our politicians, and reject their divisive language, they come and go, but the people have to live together. Let’s take the actions that our grandchildren don’t have to be ashamed of us. Let’s put the hatred aside, and start living with each other in your minds. Before you ask the other to be inclusive, you become the messenger of inclusiveness first. The change will come; a pleasant change will come.

Thanks to Dr. Sapru, he was the last speaker and endorsed my talk and urged everyone to start living their lives.

God bless humanity and God bless the Kashmiri people.

Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, author, and an interfaith wedding officiant. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. His book, the “American Muslim Agenda” is about Muslim contributions in making America is great again.  Mike’s mission is to open people’s hearts, minds, and souls towards each other. He believes that the ultimate purpose of humans is to live freely and be comfortable with their culture, race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, politicality and individuality. He is president of the Center for Pluralism committed to pragmatic education and practices to restore America to its pluralistic values.  More about him at https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeghouse/


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