Biden recruits Kashmiri-origin Sameera Fazili, cousin of former PSA detainee
A Kashmiri-origin woman, Sameera Fazili, will be among the 20 Indian-Americans in the new Joe Biden administration in the United States. Notably, Fazili's cousin Mubeen Shah was among the people held in Jammu and Kashmir after August 5, 2019, when India had repealed Jammu and Kashmir's special status. Shah had been detained under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA). Here are more details.
Born in the US after her doctor parents migrated in 1970-71, Fazili is one of two Kashmiri-origin members in Biden's team alongside Aisha Shah, the partnership manager at the White House Office of Digital Strategy. Fazili—who is married with three children—has been named the Deputy Director of the National Economic Council. She is a community development finance expert with degrees from Harvard and Yale.
Shah's mother and Fazili's father are siblings. Fazili's sister Yousra Fazili, a human rights lawyer, had testified at the November 2019 US Congressional hearing over J&K. Yousra had said she and Fazili had dialed friends in the State Department after Shah's arrest on August 8, 2019. It was only then that the family discovered that he was being held in Agra, she had said.
Yousra had said, "My cousin Mubeen has been made an example of. His imprisonment sends a strong signal to the people of Kashmir that money, family, and status mean nothing in the face of Indian capriciousness." Shah was "not a politician or a dissident, he isn't a freedom-fighter, or even a kid in the street throwing stones. He's just a businessman," she had said.
Reportedly, a niece of the Fazili sisters and Shah, who is the India-based head of an international trade services' association., had also worked to secure Shah's release. Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, too, had spoken about the issue at the October 2019 Congressional hearing on Kashmir.
On December 6, 2019, Shah was "temporarily" released. Incidentally, the same day, Jayapal had moved a bipartisan resolution in the House of Representatives urging India to end the communications blackout and mass detentions in J&K. Two days later, the J&K administration had informed the Supreme Court that it had "permanently revoked" the PSA against Shah, which is a rare occurrence.
Shah is based in Malaysia and was arrested while visiting Kashmir with his wife. He belongs to one of the most prominent families of Kashmir, and in the past, he has headed the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Jammu & Kashmir Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and a now-discontinued body promoting trade across the Indo-Pakistan border. (Source: The Indian Express)