Gurpreet Singh: MLA Ravi Kahlon writes to UN to raise concerns over Kashmir

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      Not long after the first anniversary of the scrapping of special rights given to Indian-occupied Kashmir, a B.C. legislator is seeking global intervention into the matter.   

      Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon, known for his strong advocacy for human rights and social justice, has written to the United Nations on behalf of constituents. This came after they raised concerns about the plight of their relatives in Kashmir.

      Kahlon is asking for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the disputed region.  

      On August 5, 2019, the Indian government unilaterally scrapped special rights given to the state of Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian constitution. That led to the arrest of local leaders under the pretext of maintaining public safety.   

      India's right-wing Hindu nationalist BJP government claims that this act was necessary to stop terrorism in the only Muslim-majority state of India.  

      Since then, Kashmir has been turned into an open-air jail. Communication channels, including the Internet, have been shut down.

      In addition, leaders fighting for freedom and autonomy have been detained indefinitely. These include political figures and activists who've been advocating for a peaceful resolution to problems in Kashmir, where people have been struggling for the right to self-determination.  

      In fact, Kahlon has directly written to the office of United Nations’ Human Rights Council for the second time after doing so in October 2019. He hasn’t heard back yet and in his recent letter, he reminded the UN High Commissioner about concerns raised by his constituents.  

      Kahlon shot off the first letter to UN after meeting with a delegation of people of Kashmiri origin. They were having difficulty in connecting with their relatives back home and remain deeply concerned about human rights abuses in the highly militarized zone.  

      “It has been 10 months since my office wrote to you with those concerns,” Kahlon stated in a letter sent on August 7 asking for a reply.  

      In 2017, Kahlon read out aloud a statement in the B.C. legislature about how "organized groups systematically destroyed Sikh places of worship, homes, and businesses" in India in 1984.

      Thousands of Sikhs were killed in this genocide following the assassination of Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.

      "Muslim and Hindu families hid their friends and neighbours for days," Kahlon said in the B.C. legislature. "Turbans and long hair made children targets, and parents had to make the difficult choice to cut the hair in order to survive. It was well documented that police simply watched as innocent people pleaded for help. Many elected officials that were involved walked free, and many have received promotions."

      He is also vocal about systemic racism in Canada. Kahlon recently concluded a B.C.-wide tour to hear firsthand experiences from people of colour about bigotry and prejudices they've endured. He was also instrumental behind the restoration of B.C. Human Rights Commission that was disbanded by the previous B.C. Liberal government.