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Discuss the issue of displaced Kashmiri Pandits with Dr Singh, Clinton told

October 07, 2009 00:01 IST

An influential American Senator on Tuesday asked United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to take up the plight of Kashmiri Pandits and their future with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit to US in November.

"I urge you to discuss the future of the Pandits with the Indian government," Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio said in a letter to Secretary Clinton.

Raising the issue during the upcoming State Visit of Dr Singh, including pushing for Pandit participation in the bilateral talks, will help ensure that the Pandits remain an integral part of the Kashmir Valley's future, he said.

Noting that the plight of displaced Pandits is a "pressing issue that tragically has received little attention" in recent years, Senator Brown urged Clinton to continue to ensure that Kashmiri Pandits remain part of the negotiations between India and Pakistan.

"Any agreement reached between and among the United States, India and Pakistan must call for the preservation of Pandit culture and empower and encourage those living in refugee camps to return to their native land," Brown said.

This will require not just the promise of employment and housing, but a commitment by the state government to create political and social space in Kashmir for ensuring a vibrant Pandit culture and way of life, he said.

Observing that most of the Kashmiri Pandits were driven out of their native land in the early 1990s, the Senator said, "Those (who) remain face violence and oppression as a disfranchised minority."

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