India came back with a cracking response on Monday to a 'fake' photograph shown by Pakistan's permanent representative to the United Nations (UN) Maleeha Lodhi to the General Assembly in New York, the US, last Saturday.
The controversial image of a girl injured by pellets was presented by Lodhi as proof of India's human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian state's intervention in the heavily militarised region has hardly been beyond reproach. Widely criticised at home and abroad for its policy of using pellet guns to maintain order in the Valley, the Indian army has left over 1,000 people injured there last year.
In a heated exchange of words after Pakistan's submission to the General Assembly, Eenam Gambhir, India's first secretary to the UN, labelled the neighbouring country as "Terroristan". She had come into limelight a year ago year, when she flayed Pakistan at the the 71st session UN General Assembly.
It was "extraordinary that the state which protected Osama Bin Laden and sheltered Mullah Omar should have the gumption to play the victim", Gambhir said this time. Her remarks gained more credibility as it was soon revealed that the picture in question was from Palestine, not India.
Exercising the right of reply, another young woman diplomat Paulomi Tripathi responded to the General Assembly, outlining the truth of the photograph presented by Lodhi.
Tripathi, who is secretary with India's permanent mission to the UN, pointed out that the image held up by Lodhi was indeed of Rawya abu Jom'a, from Palestine, taken on on 22 July 2014 by American photographer Heidi Levine and published in The New York Times on 24 March 2015 under the caption "Conflict, Courage and Healing in Gaza".
Contrasting that image with a "real" one, Tripathi showed a photograph of the funeral procession for Lt. Umar Faiyaz, a young officer who was kidnapped from a wedding celebration in south Kashmir's Shopian district, before being brutally tortured and killed by terrorists supported by Pakistan in May 2017.
"This is a true picture. It portrays a harsh and tragic reality. A picture of terrorism emanating from across our borders that the people of India, especially in the state of Jammu and Kashmir have to struggle with, every day. This is the reality which the Permanent Representative of Pakistan sought to obfuscate,'' she said.
Syed Akbaruddin, who heads India's permanent mission in New York, tweeted out a video footage of her presentation, with the caption, "Facts Vs Alternative Facts".
Tripathi, an Indian Foreign Service officer of the 2007 batch, is juniormost diplomat at India's permanent mission to the UN.
You can read the entire transcript of her speech here.
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