The controversial suggestion was posed by India’s Consul General in New York, Sandeep Chakravorty, during a private address to a group of Kashmiri Hindus – known as Pandits, many of whom fled violence in the region in the 1970s. The speech was captured on video and shared widely on social media.
“I believe the security conditions in Jammu and Kashmir will improve. It will allow refugees to go back and in your lifetime, you will be able to go back … because we already have a model in the world,” Chakravorty told the audience, apparently referring to Israeli settlements.
“I don’t know why we don’t follow it. It has happened in the Middle East, you have to look, if the Israeli people can do it. We can also do it.”
Israel has constructed some 140 Jewish-only settlement blocs in the West Bank, an Arab-majority territory it seized during the Six Day War in 1967, where it has since maintained a military occupation. Scores of states around the world have deemed the settlements in violation of international law, which until recently included the US. In a reversal of 40 years of US policy last week, however, the State Department recognized the settlements as lawful.
Chakravorty’s recommendation that India follow Israel’s lead for Hindus in Kashmir was met with an outpouring of anger on social media, prompting the diplomat to backtrack, claiming his words were misconstrued.
I have seen some social media comments on my recent remarks. My remarks are being taken out of context.
— Sandeep Chakravorty (@CHAKRAVIEW1971) November 27, 2019
Few critics were impressed, many wondering what “context” could explain the remarks, while others demanded an apology and insisted he step down from his position.
😀😀😀😀😀 👋👋👋 out of context! Hilarious! In what possible context could those remarks be justified
— Ajay Kamath (@ajay43) November 27, 2019
I didn't know I was being recorded!
— Ganesh Eashwar (@Dubdengreen) November 27, 2019
Do not make a fool of anyone.
Pretty clear it was.
You dehumanized 8 million Kashmiris; even as much saying that Hindus should assert their rights for how many can USA accomodate?
You owe an apology to 8 million Kashmiris.
Also to Indians because this bigotry is embarassing.
— Sidrah (@SidrahDP) November 27, 2019
“India is a vast country with Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhist and Hindus,” one user said. “You represent all of them and once you get clarity on that only then will you not make comments like you made. You are not a politician.”
Out of context? Who are u kidding. U know very well what u were doing at this Kashmiri Pandit gathering & what message u were sending to the Hinduvta supports. U were Loud & clear, u said, "follow Israeli model in #Kashmir Have the decency to self reflect, apologive & step down.
— Tab (@tab834) November 28, 2019
The scandal erupted just ahead of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, which Indian Prime Minister Nerendra Modi marked by slamming Israel’s settlement enterprise as illegal, reaffirming “India’s strong support for the Palestinian cause.” After a visit to the occupied territories last year – the first Indian PM to do so – he said he hoped to see an “independent Palestinian state living in an environment of peace.”