NEW DELHI: At a plush private huddle in New York City Saturday, the Indian government’s consul-general in New York Sandeep Chakravorty promised his audience, “Give us some time, we will do it… I think that in my lifetime we will have our land back… Look at the Middle East. If the Israeli people can do it, we can also do it.”

Chakravorty said he was putting forward the government’s views.

He began by saying he personally believed that “What happened in 1989 was a big failure of the Indian state. We should not have allowed that to happen.”

He then quoted BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra telling him that “the current leadership’s thinking begins where ours ends.”

“Now this is the government’s view,” he went on.

“The Jews kept the culture alive for 2,000 years outside their land. We have to keep the Kashmiri culture alive. The Kashmiri culture is the Hindu culture. I feel as Kashmiri as anybody else…

“We have never used our strength as the majority community, the strength of our Hindu culture, of an ancient civilisation, in our diplomacy. Never. And now that we are, people have a problem with it. Resolutions are being passed against us, we’re being dragged to the Human Rights Council and the US Congress, there are delegations…

“I believe that in my lifetime we will have our land back, our people have to go back, because not everybody can live in the United States…

“Now you will not go because of fear of life, but I think that fear will go away, give us some time. I think the government has done what it has done— No government takes such a big international risk just for an amendment,” Chakravorty said to applause.

“We ran the risk of international opprobrium. The world could have united against us, there was a diplomatic struggle. We have successfully stalled it.

“Give us some time and you will see what is going to happen. I believe the security conditions in Jammu and in Kashmir will improve, it will allow refugees to go back. And in your lifetime you’ll be able to go back, and visit your villages, and you’ll find security.

“Because we already have a model in the world, I don’t know why we don’t follow it. Look at the Middle East. If the Israeli people can do it, we can also do it,” he said to more applause.

“We have to push our leadership to do that, otherwise what’s the point? Give us some time, we will do it.”

Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri and actor Anupam Kher were present in the audience, which from the video posted by Agnihotri carried an eager familiar vibe, the white attitude, of bigots learning and suffering bigotry in the United States.

Last week Agnihotri was slated to attend an event at Rutgers University in New Jersey, which reportedly had to be moved to a temple in nearby Edison after students and teachers protested. On Monday he addressed an event jointly organised by the American Jewish Council and the Hindu Jewish Council.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in India is circulating a statement condemning Chakravorty’s remarks made in official capacity. The statement observes that:

“While the government pretended that the abrogation of Article 370 and the subsequent crackdown in Kashmir, entering its fourth month now, was for bringing ‘development’ to Kashmir, Mr Chakravorty has inadvertently revealed the Hindu nationalist core behind this decision. It is deplorable that the pain and trauma of the Kashmiri Pandit community is being weaponised for the communal agenda of the regime. It is further evident that the establishment has been permeated with its ideology, within India and outside.

“The revocation of Article 370 and 35(A) was right from the beginning called out for being inspired by Israel’s settlement policy by progressive and secular voices. For the past five years, India has been the biggest importer of Israeli arms, deals that go up to $1 billion every year. Additionally, Indian companies are entering into joint ventures with Israeli weapons companies to produce drones and rifles. Israeli army delegations have visited Kashmir and Indian Police Services trainees are sent to Israel for a week as part of their program. The security cooperation between the two is elaborate and inevitably that means exchange of methods and tactics. Most recently, activists and lawyers were revealed to have been targeted by Israeli spyware Pegasus. The proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill seeks to confer ‘right of return’ to Non-Muslims from India’s neighbouring countries, just like Israel does to Jewish people across the world. There is an ideological collaboration of Hindutva and Zionism behind these arms deals and security cooperation.

“The weapons and tactics that India receives from Israel are ‘field-tested’ on Palestinians. India’s arms purchases directly finance Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. Earlier this month, Israel killed 34 people in Gaza in air strikes, including a family of 8. Israel’s apartheid, occupation and colonialism derives its impunity from the support it receives from states like India. Now, more than ever, it is incumbent upon us to combine our struggle for democracy and secularism with that of Palestinian liberation. By calling for a military embargo on Israel, we also call for ending the ties that are facilitating the current siege and crackdown in Kashmir. That will be an effective way to truly stop the implementation of the Israeli model in Kashmir.”

Chakravorty tweeted yesterday that he had “seen some social media comments on my recent remarks. My remarks are being taken out of context.”

His official biography says that “in his spare time he reads up on International Relations and the Environment and enjoys visiting historical sites.”

At the event he concluded: “When the PM was at Howdy Modi, the biggest applause he got was when he mentioned 377 (sic). And most of the people in that hall weren’t Kashmiris…

“I think we will get it back. What has happened on 5th August will have long lasting repercussions for the Kashmiri people,” the consul-general said.