New Delhi: An organisation of physicians of the Kashmiri Pandit diaspora has written to British medical journal The Lancet, voicing “outrage and extreme disappointment over its one-sided version” in its editorial on Kashmir.
The Physicians of Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora, in a letter to the Lancet Chief Editor Richard Horton has said that the editorial titled ‘Fear and uncertainty around Kashmir’s future’ “presents the medical journal more as a political analyst rather than an upright medical periodical” and draws conclusions “that are both sweeping yet superficial and only loosely based on the history of the region”.
It said Lancet’s interest in Kashmir should have come decades ago when “under the cover of Article 370, terrorists carried out four progressive levels of ethnic cleansing of the Kashmiri Pandit community from the Kashmir Valley”.
It said the “minority of hateful radicals” have prevented them from returning to the Valley and also used Article 370 to prevent any progress of any kind in the region, including in the health domain.
Taking on the Lancet, it said: “You mention that healthcare has been impacted by suspended communication and strict curfews. However, the impact of this temporary suspension pales in comparison to the decades of mismanagement of resources and corrupt practices by incumbent governments that flourished under special provisions of Article 370.”
The Kashmiri Pandit physicians said Article 370 was “responsible for the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people of Kashmir, the Kashmiri Pandits”. It was also behind the “increased incidence of depression, anxiety and post traumatic disorders in Kashmir (similar to other regions across the world affected by terrorism).”
“Therefore, it is extremely short sighted on your part to link these medical and psychological consequences to restrictions on movement and other temporary measures taken by the Government of India to maintain peace in this volatile region.” it said. “Perhaps a better editorial would have been ‘Impact of Terrorism on human lives’.”
They said the Lancet’s stepping into the issue of Article 370 “is tantamount to challenging the sovereignty of the nation” and medical journals should stick to commenting on medical issues rather than on the internal political matters of democratic nations.
“It is impossible for the current inhabitants of Kashmir Valley to remain unaffected by a creeping sense of criminality when many of them have been accomplices in heinous crimes of genocide and ethnic cleansing of 350,000 local Hindus (Pandits) from the minority community in 1990.”
It said that by “deliberately avoiding reference to no fewer than four mass massacres of the religious minority (Hindus) and thirty years of its life in exile, the editorial has done a disservice to the fundamental norms of fair and impartial journalism.”
It said the Lancet editorial team should have researched the issue properly to present a balanced view.
The Kashmiri Pandit physicians hoped the journal would apologize “for the pain it has caused our community who have been victims of genocide over decades”.
They also asked the Lancet to retract the article and publish their letter to inform its readers of the “real issues facing the region”,
In its August 17 editorial, the Lancet had written: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi vows that his decision to revoke autonomy will bring prosperity to Kashmir. But first, the people of Kashmir need healing from the deep wounds of this decades-old conflict, not subjugation to further violence and alienation,” drawing criticism on social media.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also slammed the Lancet for its comments.