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“Breach of Propriety”: Indian Psychiatric Society Denounces Lancet’s ‘Kashmir Editorial’

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Indian Psychiatric Society has strongly denounced the Lancet editorial dated 17th August & titled “Fear and uncertainty around Kashmir’s future”.


The controversial editorial highlighting the mental health issues in the union territory of Jammu & Kashmir stated “The protracted exposure to violence has led to a formidable mental health crisis” , “It is unsurprising that people in the region have increased anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder” & “PM 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 & alienation.”

Hiding under the guise of academics, editorial has strong political undertones unworthy of a medical sciences journal. Talking to The-Psychiatrist.Com, President of Indian Psychiatric Society Dr. Mrugesh Vaishnav said, “We have sent protest letter to The Lancet and I will register official protest & strong objection at World Congress of Psychiatry at Lisbon this week”. His letter addressed to editor-in-chief of Lancet Mr. Richard Horton is as follows:


Dear Mr. Horton,

Greetings from Indian Psychiatric Society.

This is regarding the editorial “Fear and uncertainty around Kashmir’s future” published in “The Lancet, Vol394 on August 17th, 2019”.

It is painful to see that the reputed medical journal The Lancet has committed breach of propriety in commenting on this political issue.

It is amounting to interference into an internal matter of Union of India.

The Lancet has no locus standee on the issue of Kashmir. Kashmir issue is a legacy that the British Empire left behind. The Lancet has reacted to an internal administrative decision of Government of India under the garb of concern for the health of Kashmiris.

Indian Psychiatric Society condemns this unsolicited intrusion into the affairs of the Sovereign Republic of India. Generations of Indians especially the doctors and medical students will carry the unpleasant memory of this act of commission by “The Lancet”.

India won its independence from Britain on 15 August 1947. Later, Pakistan was carved out of India, as an Islamic country through a partition. Under the partition plan provided by the Indian Independence Act, Kashmir was free to accede to either India or Pakistan. The maharaja (local ruler), Hari Singh, initially wanted Kashmir to become independent – but in October 1947 chose to join India, in return for its help against an invasion of Pakistan (1). This history has been completely forgotten and wrapped under the covers by the Lancet editorial.

The Lancet’s statement considers Jammu & Kashmir to be a monopoly of Kashmiri Muslims, which is completely wrong and fails to acknowledge the presence of huge non-Muslim population such as Buddhists and Hindus. India is a secular country and provides equal protection to everyone. Population of the Islamic country, Pakistan is 204 million and an equal number of Muslim populations live in India (201 million). India gives protection to the world’s largest Muslim-minority population (201 million) which has not been recognized in the editorial. Kurji et al 2016 (2), report on health issues in Pakistan is very disturbing and Pakistan Government needs to take strong initiatives to change the current health care system. On the other hand Indian government has provided excellent health facilities in Kashmir, which is depicted in the editorial comment that Kashmir is doing well. Life expectancy was 68·3 years for men and 71·8 years for women, which is greater than the rest of India. This clearly indicates the Indian government’s commitment to provide a good ecosystem for health in the Kashmir Valley.

The Lancet editorial has also failed to acknowledge the fact that radical Islam sponsored by Pakistan has been waging Jihad against the Indian State and many other countries including United State. There is no doubt about the fact that Osama Bin Laden was inside a private residential compound in the vicinity of the military establishment in Abbottabad, Pakistan (3). Many Islamic terrorists’ organizations are funded, supported, trained and groomed in Pakistan (4). The editorial has failed to mention and acknowledge the horror Kashmiri Hindus had to endure in 1989-90. The hatred and attack on Hindu pilgrims going to Amarnath Yatra continue till date and is sponsored by these terrorists. Unfortunately, atrocities against people of Ladakh and Jammu by Islamic terrorists sponsored by Pakistan finds no mention in its account of events.

Further, the editorial is completely oblivious to the human rights violation in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The interim constitution of Pakistan occupied Kashmir has placed several restrictions on anyone criticizing Kashmir accession to Pakistan, in contravention to international standards on the rights to freedom of expression and opinion, assembly and association. Further, as per the UN report “hundreds of individuals” had been imprisoned under the Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, and it was being used to target locals who have been raising issues related to the “rights of the people” in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The mother of all atrocities is the Constitution of Pakistan, defines who may be considered to be a Muslim. This definition is used to declare members of the various other communities as non-Muslims and is the basis of institutional or State sponsored discrimination against them (5). Pakistan’s blasphemy provisions are also extensively used against the non-Muslims in the country. The Pakistan government did not take any significant action in the past and at present also against Afghan Taliban, Lashkar e-Tayyiba, and Jaish-e-Mohammad Terrorists organisation from openly raising money, recruiting, and training in Pakistan(6). These terrorists are creating havoc in the Kashimri valley, across India and other parts of the world.

Mr. Imran Khan, Pakistan Prime Minister, has reacted sharply in the parliament to the India’s decision to revoke Article 370 of its Constitution. He said “I can already predict this will happen. They will attempt to place the blame on us again. They may strike us again, and we will strike back”. He also said that “incidents like Pulwama (terrorist attack) are bound to happen again”. This kind of typical cognitive mindset in a Pakistan leader, clearly indicates that State sponsored terrorism will be used against India. These points need to be highlighted to do justice and neutral point of contention of the Lancet claims.


References:
1. BBC News. Kashmir: Why India and Pakistan fight over it. Available online at https://www.bbc.com/news/10537286 Retrived August 19, 2019.
2. Kurji Z, Premani ZS, Mithani Y., Analysis Of The Health Care System Of Pakistan: Lessons Learnt And Way Forward. J Ayub Med Coll Abbottabad 2016;28(3):601–4
3. “Death of Osama bin Ladin”. Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs. May 1, 2011. Archived from the original on May 4, 2011. Retrived August 19, 2019.
4. Country Reports on Terrorism 2016, US Department of State. Available online at https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/crt_2016.pdf Retrived August 19, 2019
5. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir: Developments in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir from June 2016 to April 2018, and General Human Rights Concerns in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Available online at https://www.ohchr.org/Document/Countries/IN/ DevelopmentsInKashmirJune2016ToApril2018.pdf Retrieved August 19, 2019
6. Country Reports on Terrorism 2017, US Department of State. Available online at https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/crt_2017.pdf Retrived August 19, 2019.


Dr. Mrugesh Vaishnav, President Indian Psychiatric Society




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