Led By Elk Grove Delegate, Calif. Democratic Party Platform Adds Hindu Kashmiri Pandit Refugee Right of Return

 Progressive Caucus Chair Amar Shergill addresses members at Long Beach Convention. |  

Led by the efforts of an Elk Grove delegate to the recently concluded California Democratic Party Convention in Long Beach, the party's platform was amended to add support for the right of return for Hindu Kashmiri Pandit refugees.

The platform change was initiated and shepherded Amar Shergill, Chair of the Progressive Caucus of the CDP. The Party unanimously adopted a historic affirmation of the rights of Hindu Kashmiri Pandits that were persecuted and expelled from their ancestral homeland in the 1990s.

“When Democrats discuss the ongoing human rights crisis in Kashmir, we often fail to understand the history of Kashmir, which includes hundreds of thousands of Hindu Kashmiri Pandits that were forced out of their homes and remain as a refugee community residing in India," Shergill said. "Speaking out for Muslims that live in Kashmir today means we must also advocate for the Pandit community that have spent a generation away from their homeland.”

The Kashmir region has been an on-going source of tension between India and Pakistan since the two countries gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1947 and the ensuing partitions. The conflict has most recently included India cutting off Internet service to the region.

The platform amendment reads: “Pursuant to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Articles 13 and 14, the Kashmiri Pandit community has the right of return to their ancestral homeland and to be free of persecution in their return.” Platform statements of principles and values are reviewed and considered by every endorsed Democratic Party candidate for office and have often been used as the basis for policy discussion and legislative reform.  

“I am proud to stand with my South Asian brothers and sisters working together to ensure that we protect the human rights of all people," Arab-American Caucus Chair Moody Zahriya said. "The Kashmiri Pandit refugee community in India should be allowed to return home without fear of persecution.”

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