Journalist lashes out with identity after being called pro-establishment
A Times of India staffer, Aarti Tikoo Singh, has lashed out with her identity as a Kashmiri Pandit, after being chided by a US Congresswoman during an official Congress hearing on human rights in South Asia.
Singh wrote on Twitter:
Pakistani Islamists drove me & my community (Kashmiri Hindus) out of Kashmir in 1990, Hindu India denied me voice for 30 years & Islamist @IlhanMN
gagged me today under the chairmanship of Democrat Congressman @BradSherman
. Is this democracy? No, it’s IslamoCapitalism talking.
Singh had deposed before a US Congress sub-committee on Foreign Affairs where Kashmir figured as a central issue due to the ongoing crisis in the northernmost state of India. The state has been in turmoil since the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir since its merger with India.
She also told newswire ANI that the hearing was a setup against India. Some social media commentators have claimed that this was done to favour Pakistan in advance of the US exit from Afghanistan, where Pakistan is said to be a key player.
The journalist had made pro-establishment remarks during her deposition leading to strong criticism from the US Congresswoman (elected from Minnesota) Ilhan Omar.
"What the foot-soldiers of the Pakistani military and ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) have done to ordinary Kashmiri Muslims in the last 30 years, pales in comparison to the human rights violations committed by the Indian state," Singh had deposed on 22 October.
The US lawmaker did not shy away from pulling her up for her partisan comments despite being a journalist. Interestingly, Singhs comments have come at a time when there are still restrictions on the media in Kashmir.
“Ms Singh, a reporter’s job is to find the objective truth about what is happening and report it to the public. You have an enormous audience at The Times of India and you have an enormous responsibility to get it right. I am aware of how the narrative shaped by reporting can distort the truth. I am also very aware of how it could 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,” Omar had responded.
Singh did not shy away from leaning on her Kashmiri identity when lashing out at Omar later on social media. Interestingly, another speaker at the hearing was also a Kashmiri Pandit, Nitasha Kaul, but did not use the opportunity to speak about injustices to her community but spoke about the current human rights scenario in Kashmir.
You can watch Kauls remarks here: Kaul https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-S8xyn1cgY&feature=youtu.be
The entire hearing is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7CvelSHeWw