19th January 1990 is the darkest day in the history of Kashmir.The aborigines population and the minority Kashmiri Pandit community was driven out and exited at gun-point from the Kashmir Valley. They became refugees in their own country and sought refuge in Jammu, Delhi and various other places. They left their homes and hearths behind which now stand destroyed, sold for peanuts in distress and mostly have been forcibly occupied by the armed insurgents.
I am a Kashmiri and the proud member of the Kashmiri Pandit community which is a ethnic minority of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and now a Union Territory.Kashmir today is without Kashmiri Pandits. A religious minorily, with its more than 5,000 years of evidenced history and roots linked with Kashmir,under a concerted plan of ethnic cleansing, forcibly hounded out enmasse from their natural habitat. Kashmiri Pandits are the aborigines natives with more than five thousands years of roots engraved in the soil of the Valley.Kashmir is a part of India.The idea of India in Kashmir is in Perpetual peril.Kashmir’s plural ethos, composite culture and heritage lay shattered and completely destroyed by the radicals and terrorists, materially,morally and politically helped by Pakistan.
To avenge their defeats at the hands of India, Pakistan embarked on sponsoring terrorism in Kashmir. It is a matter of common knowledge that, for the last thirty years, the people of Kashmir, particularly Kashmiri Pandits and Hindus of the Doda district in Jammu, in particular, are killed and remain under constant threat from the Pakistani-sponsored militants. They lured and tempted the uneducated youth to take arms against their own brethren with whom they had lived for centuries in peace and tranquillity.
The armed insurgency is orchestrated,supervised, controlled and directed from across the border, sophisticated weapons are smuggled into Kashmir by the Pakistan army and their ISI agency and lethal weapons are pumped into the Valley and elsewhere in the Jammu region.These arms are not only meant for fighting the Indian security forces but are used for killing the innocent local people. It is one of the the most barbaric, inhuman and dangerous venture which launched against innocent Kashmiris consisting of Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and other communities by Pakistan with the active participation of the locally recruited militants. The Kashmiri Pandit community and the mainstream Muslims were the prime targets of the armed terrorists. Terror reined hundreds of Kashmiris were brutally killed,the State Government collapsed,the Indian State was in a state of mess because of opportunistic coalition Government at Centre And finally in January 1990 the minority Kashmiri Pandit community was driven out at gun-point from the Valley. They became refugees in their own homeland and sought refuge in Jammu, Delhi and various other places. They left their homes and hearths behind which now stand destroyed or have been forcibly occupied by the armed insurgents.
The Pakistan and the Kashmiri terrorists have a direct responsibility for the disaster which the armed insurgents have heaped on the Kashmiri people. Shockingly it all was inflicted in the name of religion. The wholesale massacre of the Kashmiri population innocent and unarmed was termed by a narrative as ‘Holy War’.
Kashmir today is without Kashmiri Pandits. A religious minorily, with its more than 5,000 years of evidenced history and roots linked with Kashmir,under a concerted plan of ethnic cleansing, forcibly hounded out enmasse from their natural habitat.
This community was reduced to minuscule minority by cultural aggressions in the past and, therefore, in 1947, according to census figures, the population of this community was 15%, in 1981 5%, in 1991 .01% and In today time of enlightenment a big 99.9% of this community population has been forced to flee Kashmir and live as refugees in their own Country.These five hundred thousand Kashmiri Pandits live in abysmal/appalling conditions, ‘as refugees’, in camps in Jammu and Delhi. This mass exodus of 1990 was followed by sustained terror, rapes, murder, loot and kidnappings. About 1,500 Kashmiri Pandits, including women and children, were brutally killed, about 250 religious shrines were burnt down and fifty thousands agricultural families deprived of their lands, twenty thousand business establishments looted and devastated, more than thirty thousands of houses reduced to ashes and 90% of the houses looted and about twenty thousands vacant houses and other properties left behind have been forcibly occupied. As a result of this carefully drawn-our strategy and plan of ethno-religious cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits by the armed insurgents, this community is today scattered, devastated and disintegrated.
Pakistanis engaged in trans-border terrorism and indulged in international crimes characterized as gross human rights violations and akin to Genocide.The mercenaries, after wearing Army uniforms, indulged in killings masquerading as army personnel to unleash hatred against the security forces who are engaged in safeguarding the lives and property of the people.
Pakistan’s strategy of continuing a low-intensity war with India has the following components, (i) intensification of terrorist activities in a wide area extending from J&K to other parts ii) strengthening the strategic alliance between Kashmiri militants and international terrorist groups; (iii) focusing on coordinated attacks by the militant outfits on the security forces in J&K and elsewhere (iv) using the neighbouring countries to the north and east of India for executing terrorist activities in India and (v) Unleashing false propaganda against India. Through revamping the clandestine TV channels run by ISI, other media networks.Pakistan and ISI agency has a direct hand in infiltrating Afghans and other mercenaries into J&K State and in creating militant outfits , that have been declared as a terrorist outfit by UN and USA. ISI has spread its tentacles in communally sensitive areas of UP, Bihar and Assam for creating a nexus between various Pan-Islamic outfits. Indo-Pak border vulnerability to drug trafficking is being used by ISI. The menance of drug trafficking along the Indo-Pak border has assumed alarming proportions.
The concerns voiced by international community through the UN Human Rights Commission, the U.N. General Assembly, the National Human Rights Commission of India, to which the complaints have already been made of the violations of human rights of the Kashmiri people, have not brought about any peace in Kashmir; instead the pattern of militancy has changed. The United States has taken tough measures to deal with international terrorism. The Indian nation-state has zero tolerance policy on terrorism and dealing sternly with terrorists to ensure the full enjoyment of the human rights by the citizens.
The countries from where the terrorists receive support and material and moral back-up are put on notice, that if they do not stop arming, training and supporting the trans-border terrorism and bring the perpetrators of human rights violatios to book, such country shall be declared as a ‘Terrorist State’ by the international community and severe sanctions and censures shall be applied, then only the menace of terrorism can be effectively eliminated and perpetrators of massive and gross violations of human rights can be punished.
Parliament enacted an Act in 1993 to provide for constitution of a National Human Rights Commission, State Human Rights Commissions in the states and Human Rights Courts for better protection of human rights and for all matters connected therewith and incidental thereto, which is called; the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. This Act applies to whole of India. The Kashmiri Pandits have brought their massive violations of human rights to the notice of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) way back in 1995-1996, through a detailed petition/ memorandum filed by the representative organizations of Kashmiri Pandits.
After hearing the parties to the petitions full commission NHRC gave a detailed verdict and described the Killings inflicted on Kashmiri Pandits “akin to Genocide”.
The security situation along the Indo-Pak border continues to be very alarming. The tensions and killings in various parts of the State are a continuing phenomenon. The LG administration and Central Governments are primary engaged in combating the security-related problems. Kashmiri Pandit problems have, however, received no serious considerations, except that it finds place in BJP election manifesto and a generic time to time statements by top leaders that reversal of KP exile is on cards and their (Kashmir) Pandits) problem is a priority item on the Central Govt.’s policy agenda.
Today Kashmiri society is on historical cross-roads. Its peaceful ethos, its liberal Islam, its culture of Sufi saints, its Kashmiriyat and its image as a strong citadel of co-existence and pluralistic society lay shattered and devastated by the decades old violence by terrorists and mercenaries. The threat of foisting an alien way of life on Kashmiris by pan-Islamic fanatics is very grave. The Kashmiri society, which is predominantly Muslim,are in introspective mode their choice towards the pluralistic, peaceful democratic and modern way of life was reflected by large participation in recent DDC elections. They have to seriously introspected the happenings and violence of the past three decades and decide about the future socio-political dispensation under which they have to live.
The ethno-religious minority of Kashmiri Pandits which has the original indigenous roots in history linked with Kashmir, have inalienable right of life in that land. Nobody can wish away their rights in the land. If the democratic way of life has to exist and function genuinely in Kashmir, all the violence and terrorism has to end. The violence perpetrated from across the border by Pakistan, ISI operators and other groups has to come to an end. There is a need to enlarge the political space in Kashmir to encompass the views which have not yet been heard, or have not yet participated, for setting up the trend towards a greater tolerant and pluralistic process. Kashmiris are today longing for deciding their matters through peaceful and democratic process – we all must nurture and develop such processes which can put an overall end to the death and destruction phenomenon unleashed by violence in the beautiful vale of Kashmir.
Any process for lasting solutions in whichever form is incomplete without the presence, participation and physical involvement of the Kashmiri Pandit community in the Kashmir affairs.
All Kashmiris emphatically urge Pakistan to keep off Kashmir,stop trans-border terrorism on the peaceful people.KashmirIs are determined to pick up once again the peaceful, pluralistic and democratic way of life. Enough is enough. In Kashmir, much blood has been shed by now, so let all together reknit, reweave and revive the ethos of Kashmir once again for the full enjoyment of human rights and development.
Enough is Enough.Pakistan has to keep off and allow Kashmiris to pick up the plural ethos,democracy and development as a way forward to live as a terror free society, reduce tensions and strengthen the processes, that makes all to live up to the ideals of universal peace and for upholding the human rights of all and one.
Kashmiri Pandits as a Community is determined to return home sooner than later to live and enjoy right to peaceful and secured life,liberty,Political empowerment and spiritual and cultural space.
(The author is Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India, Distinguished fellow USI and Chairman-Kashmir(Policy & Strategy) Group)