This 19th, day of January every year is in memory of the Kashmiri victims of the Holocaust on 19th January 1990 and continued selective killings of Native Kashmiris till date: is the day on which all of us must reassert our commitment to HUMAN RIGHTS.
We must also go beyond remembrance, and make sure that new generations know this history. We must apply the lessons of the Holocaust to today’s world. And we must do our utmost so that all peoples may enjoy the protection and rights for which the Constitution of India and UN Charter on Human Rights jurisprudence stands.
United Nation’s resolutions,rejects any denial of the Holocaust as an event and condemns all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or killings and violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief. It calls all the nation states to dismantle the state and non-State perpetrators of the terror/holocaust.
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,till today there is no end to the selective killings of Kashmiris particularly the Kashmiri Pandits living in Kashmir.
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.
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-out strategy and plan of ethno-religious cleansing of Kashmin Pandits by the armed insurgents, this community is today scattered, devastated and disintegrated.
The aborigine Kashmiri Pandits were forced to flee the Kashmir valley as a result of a concerted plan of ethnic cleansing with the strategy of killing one and scaring a thousand by JKLF terrorists and Islamist insurgents during late 1989 and 1990 onwards. Living in the Valley for more than 5,000 years, the entire population of 5-6 lakh Hindus was exiled by inflicting death, destruction, loot, grabbing of leftover immovable properties, agricultural land and orchards etc, by the settlers/JKLF and other native terrorists.
There are hundreds of similar stories of gruesome killings, torture, intimidation, loot and plunder of properties of Kashmiri Hindus by the terrorists and their local sympathisers.
After individual killings, the mass massacre of Hindus started, which frightened the leftover families living in different parts of Kashmir. The massacres in Sangrampora, Wandhama, Chatisingpora, and Nadimarg alone consumed more than 60 innocent lives of Kashmiri Hindus and Sikhs, who included infants, children, young, elderly and also women.
The communalism had manifested viciously from 1947 onwards but was confined to discrimination against the members of religious minority at the administrative levels and in educational and professional institutions. The murder and massacre became an order, starting with the murder of police inspector Amar Chand of Nadhal, Bandipora, in 1966 by JKLF terrorists and its so called founder Maqbool Bhat, who was tried for the inspector’s murder.
In August 1968, Maqbool Bhat was sentenced to death. The sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1982. Bhat’s execution was carried out in Tihar jail, thereafter after having availed all the mercy remedies under the Constitutional process.
1986 became a turning point in the vicious communal campaign against the KP community. In February 1986, the communal settlers incited the Kashmiri Muslims by a virulent propaganda that “Islam khatrey mein hey (Islam is in danger)”. As a result, Kashmiri Pandits were targeted by the Muslims. Many incidents were reported in various areas where Kashmiri Hindus’ properties and temples were damaged and destroyed. The worst hit areas were mainly in South Kashmir and Sopore. In Vanpoh, Lukbhavan, Anantnag, Salar and Fatehpur, Muslim mobs plundered or destroyed the properties and temples of Hindus.
During the Anantnag riot in February 1986, although no Hindu was killed, many houses and other properties belonging to Hindus were looted, burnt or damaged. The incumbent State Government was dismissed.
On 12 March 1986, Governor’s Rule was imposed. The political narrative unfolded on deadly communal lines and was portrayed as a conflict between “Hindu” New Delhi (Central Government)-and its efforts to impose its will in the state-and “Muslim” Kashmir, represented by political Islamists and clerics.
The Islamists had organised under a banner named Muslim United Front, with a manifesto to work for Islamic unity and against political interference from the Centre, and contested the 1987 state elections, in which they lost again. However, the 1987 elections were widely believed to be unfairly conducted, so as to bring the secular parties (NC and INC) in Kashmir at the forefront, and this caused the trigger point to insurgency in Kashmir. The Kashmiri militants killed anyone who openly expressed pro-India policies. Kashmiri Pandits were targeted specifically because they were seen as presenting Indian presence in Kashmir because of their faith and pronounced patriotism.
Though the insurgency had been launched by JKLF, groups rose over the next few months advocating for the establishment of Nizam-e-Mustafa (Rule of Muhammad). The Islamist groups proclaimed the Islamicisation of socio-political and economic set-up, merger with Pakistan, unification of ummah and establishment of an Islamic Caliphate. Liquidation of Central government officials, Pandits, liberal and nationalist intellectuals, social and cultural activists was described as necessary to rid the valley of un-Islamic elements.
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 violations 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 is a continuous 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.
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 peaceful life,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 & cultural space.
[The author is Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India, Chairman-Kashmir (Policy & Strategy) Group]