Tempers Flare over Kashmir and Fray the Local Indo-Pak Calmness


Indian Protestors in front of the Indian Consulate on 4300 Scotland off Memorial and Waugh

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: The recent pre-dawn skirmish in Uri, Kashmir on September 18 when four mujahedeen attacked sleeping Indian soldiers- leaving 17 of them dead – has been resounding among the community in the Bayou City with the Indian community holding a prayer vigil for the fallen at India House on Sunday, September 25.

But when, according to sources close to the discussions, they had learnt that local elements in the Pakistani community had planned to hold a protest in front of the Indian Consulate on Friday, September 23, members of the local Indian community sprang into action. They decided to hold a counter demonstration of their own to express their anger and frustration at events that happened half a world away over a long simmering dispute and reverberated in H-Town.


Indian protestors in front of the Pakistani Consulate at 11850 Jones Road, north of FM 1960

Last Friday, September 23 at 12:30pm, over 30 Indians descended upon the grassy median in front of the Pakistani Consulate’s two-story free-standing building on 11850 Jones Road, north of FM 1960 in far northwest Harris County and held an hour-long protest. They held up both Indian and American flags, printed signs and even a large banner showing pictures of schoolkids killed in Peshawar and shouted slogans directed to the Consulate.

People exiting the Consulate, including presumably some who work there, were taken aback by the protestors. One man even went so far as to shout a reactionary slogan back at the protestors (for a short video clip on this, visit the Indo American News YouTube channel). Several well-known activists of the community – Achalesh Amar, Sujeeth Draksharam and Bangar Reddy among others – were at the protest to show their support.


Pakistani protests in front of the Indian Consulate, across the street from the Indian protestors

Two hours later, the same protestors gathered in front of the three-story Indian Consulate building on 4300 Scotland off Memorial and Waugh near downtown Houston to face off against a larger crowd of Pakistani protestors, standing on the park side of the street, across from the Consulate. Sources say that people kept on coming and leaving from the Pakistani crowd, which had in it many women and children, and held placards denouncing the Indian presence in Kashmir.

The standoff went on for an hour, with each side screaming at the other, the first known local altercation between the two communities.  Eventually, Indian Consul General Anupam Ray came out to meet the Indian protestors, shaking hands with them and offering them cold water. The newly installed Pakistani Consul General Aisha Farooqui who has taken over the mission only a few weeks ago from Afzaal Mahmood did not face the Indian protestors.