London (United Kingdom), Oct 26: The House of Commons (UK Parliament) celebrated Jammu and Kashmir Day on the eve of the 76th anniversary of the Accession of the then princely state to India on October 26, 1947.
The program was organised by the Jammu Kashmir diaspora based in the UK and hosted by Rt Hon Bob Blackman, MP Harrow East.
Other parliamentarians attending the event included Rt Hon Jonathan Lord, MP Woking, Rt Hon Theresa Villiers, and MP Chipping Barnet.
The special guests for the evening included Ajatshatru Singh and Ritu Singh from the erstwhile royal family of Jammu & Kashmir.
Other keynote speakers included Gautam Sen, Sushil Pandit and Mr Sajjad Raja, NEP Party representing POJK.
The proceedings were inaugurated by MP Jonathan Lord who welcomed the royals from Jammu and Kashmir and other guests and audience.
Gautam Sen spoke about the plight of Kashmiri Pandits and the lack of political will to support their rehabilitation and he attributed this to the vote bank politics highlighting that the Pandit community being small in number does not have a political voice.
Sajjad Raja spoke about the atrocities on Hindus and Sikhs during the partition and he strongly argued that Pakistan was not a party to the Jammu & Kashmir issue because they were the aggressors who invaded and forcibly occupied POJK in 1947.
Ajatshatru Singh spoke about the Dogra dynasty and their contribution to the establishment and expansion of the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir. He also highlighted, then Maharaja, Hari Singh’s role in signing the instrument of Accession with India.
MP Theresa Villiers spoke about the importance of Jammu Kashmir Day and also highlighted the significant progress made by the region since the revocation of Article 370.
Sushil Pandit spoke about the lack of justice being done to the Kashmiri Pandit community and he also highlighted the apathy of the establishment in fulfilling the aspirations of the community.
MP Bob Blackman brought with him a signed copy of the Instrument of Accession and highlighted the contribution of the diaspora community in celebrating the day year after year in the House of Commons.
MP Bob Blackman also urged Pakistan to stop state-sponsored terrorism in the region so there is lasting peace and progress in the region.
Ritu Singh spoke about the erstwhile Royal Family’s contribution to the state and she also talked about a number of social and cultural initiatives in the region specifically aimed at woman empowerment, skills development and preservation of craft and culture.
The event was well represented by political and community activists based in the UK, the wider British Indian and POJK diaspora and a number of parliamentary staff.
A number of community volunteers worked together to shape the event including Sonal Sher (moderating the proceedings), Shafalica Bhan Kotwal, Anupama Handoo, Vinod Tikoo, Anupam Fotedar, Lalit Sharma, Pankaj Raina and others. __Courtesy dailyexcelsior.com