WASHINGTON (TIP): On Monday June 24th, more than 300 people filled the Foreign Affairs Committee Room in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC for the Hindu American Foundation’s 16th annual Capitol Hill Reception.
In a first, this year’s Capitol Hill Reception was co-hosted by HAF and the Indian American Kashmir Forum, with the partnership of Kashmir Hindu Foundation — all groups advocating for justice for the Hindu Kashmiri Pandit community.
“For too long the religio-ethnic cleansing of the Kashmiri Pandit community from the Valley of Kashmir has been overlooked by the international community,” noted HAF Board Member Rajiv Pandit, himself a member of the Kashmiri Pandit community, now living in Texas.
“Some three decades ago thousands of Hindus were killed by their neighbors and Pakistan-sponsored militants, with several hundred thousand forced to flee under threat of horrific violence. Some of us emigrated from India entirely, but the majority of our community remains as internally displaced persons in other parts of India. All of us would like to see a time when we are able to return home safely,” Pandit added.
In the wake of heightened violence in the Valley, HAF honored stalwarts of the Kashmiri Hindu community who have made significant and positive contributions in a variety of fields, including human rights, science, and the arts, as were individuals who have worked towards fighting for religious freedom of people around the world.
“We’re humbled by the selflessness and achievements of these individuals in protecting, preserving, and promoting the indigenous cultural heritage of Kashmir, and in making incredible advances in a variety of fields,” said Suhag Shukla, HAF’s Executive Director. “And, after 30 years of largely remaining unheard, we were honored to recognize the efforts of American policy makers who have used their platforms to highlight the need for religious freedom and human rights for this and other minority communities.”
Receiving awards in 2019 were: Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA) — Friend of the Community
Ambassador Sam Brownback — Mahatma Gandhi Award for Advancing Pluralism
Bansi Pandit — Dharma Seva Award
Subhash Kak, Ashok Koul, Arti Tiku Kaul — Award for the Advancement of Dharmic Arts and Sciences
Vijay Sazawal, Deepak Ganju, Sunil Fotedar — Award for the Advancement of Hindu Human Rights