London: Jammu & Kashmir Accession Day was celebrated in the House of Commons in the UK Parliament on the eve of the 76th anniversary of merger of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir to India.
The event was organised by the Jammu Kashmir diaspora based in the UK and hosted by Rt. Honorable Bob Blackman MP Harrow East. Other parliamentarians attending the event included Rt Hon Jonathan Lord MP Woking, Rt Hon, Theresa Villiers MP Chipping Barnet.
The special guests for the event included the grandson and granddaughter-in-law of Maharaja Hari Singh, Maharaj Kumar Ajatshatru Singh & Kuvrani Ritu Singh.
The keynote speakers included Dr Gautam Sen, Sh Sushil Pandit & Mr Sajjad Raja NEP Party representing POJK.
The proceedings were inaugurated by MP Jonathan.
Lord who welcomed the royal family from Jammu & Kashmir and other guests and audience.
This was followed by Dr Sen, who spoke about the plight of Kashmiri Pandits and lack of political will to support their rehabilitation. He attributed this to vote bank politics highlighting that the pandit community being small in number do not have a political voice.
Maharaj Kumar Ajatshatru ji spoke next about the Dogra dynasty and their contribution to establishment and expansion of the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir.
He also highlighted Maharaja Hari Singh’s role in signing the instrument of Accession with India and reminded everyone how critical decisions affecting the subcontinent were taken in this very same building.
Sushil Pandit spoke about the lack of justice being done to the Kashmiri Pandit community and also highlighted the apathy of the establishment in fulfilling the aspirations of the community.
MP Theresa Villiers spoke about the importance of Jammu Kashmir Day and also highlighted the significant progress made by the region since revocation of Article 370.
MP Bob Blackman brought with him a signed copy of the Instrument of Accession and highlighted the contribution of the Indian diaspora in celebrating the day year after year in the House of Commons.
MP Bob Blackman on the eve also urged Pakistan to stop state sponsored terrorism so there is lasting peace and progress in the region.
The event ended on a positive note with Kr Ritu Singh Ji speaking about a number of social and cultural initiatives in the region specifically aimed at woman empowerment, inclusion, skills development and capacity building to boost the economy. She invited the Indian diaspora to give back to the country and talked about the positive changes on the ground post abrogation of Article 370.
She also presented the MPs with beautiful Basohli art made by Paper Baag.
The event was well represented by political and community activists based in the UK, wider British Indian and POJK diaspora and a number of parliamentary staff.
A number of community volunteers worked together to shape the event including Ms Sonal Sher (moderating the proceedings) Mrs Shafalica Bhan Kotwal Ms Anupama Handoo, Mr Vinod Tikoo, Mr Anupam Fotedar, Mr Lalit Sharma, Mr Pankaj Raina and others.