KPs demand Commission of Inquiry

Ashok Bhan

The Balidhan Diwas on 14th Sept after 1989 is being observed by the exiled KP community across the world to remember and pay homage to the Martyrs.The homage besides reverence,is a reminder to our next and future generations as to how the Indian State has failed KPs then and it is failing now.My heart bleeds while I recount the brutalities inflicted on our martyrs. I salute all the martyrs.
Today I would have been in the list of killed KPs as I was amongst the first five targets of the terrorists for being an anti-terrorism crusader,a prominent Lawyer,social/community activist and very articulate active Congress Party office bearer.On account of serious threat perception,and discreet advise of the then DG JK Police,I was forced to decide to leave Kashmir in Nov/Dec.1989 with my wife and two little kids,leaving behind everything.I was given to understand that situation and law and order would be controlled in a month or so.I never realised that not only me but the entire KP community would be forced to flee the homeland simply to live as refugees in our own Country.Now 30 years have gone by.KPs believed that might of Indian State shall prevail in the Valley.They never countenanced their traumatic phase of life as internally displaced population in the enlightened times,in free democratic and might of India for last more than three decades with still no plans of Modi-2:0 to reverse the exile.
Realities are, at times harsh and strange. The harsh ground reality in today’s age of free,independent and constitutional democratic India,is — Kashmir today is without Kashmiri Pandits. The aborigine community of Kashmir, is out in exile, in this modern age of reason and enlightenment. The forced exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits in 1989-1990, designed to effect the motivated ethnic cleansing, will go down in the history of India and these native Kashmiris -as dark phase of contemporary times.
The aborigines Kashmiri Pandits were forced to flee the Kashmir valley as a result of 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 5000 years,the entire population of five Lakhs to six Lakhs Hindus was exiled by inflicting death, destruction, loot, grabbing of leftover immovable properties,agricultural land and orchards the settlers/JKLF and other native terrorists.
Brutal murders of Kashmiri Hindus started over 30 years ago on September 14, 1989 when the tallest KP and BJP leader Pt.Tika Lal Taploo, a prominent lawyer of Srinagar Bar was murdered and fell victim to the JKLF terrorist’s bullets just outside his home in downtown Srinagar. His killing set off a series of target killings of KP leaders at the hands of trigger-happy terrorist who used to celebrate counting the heads.This dance of death continued so much so that a killer terrorist confessed on local TV channels,he had killed so many KPs in double digits and had lost the exact count.
Retired District and Session Judge Pt.Neelkanth Ganjoo was killed on November 4, 1989 in Hari Singh High Street market. Ganjoo had presided over the trial of JKLF founder Maqbool Bhat in the murder of police inspector Amar Chand in 1966 and handed him with a death sentence In August 1968,the sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1982. Bhat’s execution was carried out in Tihar jail. On April 30, 1990 at village Shali,in Kokernag area of district Anantnag three armed militants kidnapped a renowned freedom fighter,teacher and scholar Pt.Sarwanand Koul,with his younger son Virendra Koul and two days later two dead bodies were found hanging with their limbs broken, hairs uprooted, and portions of their skin slit open and burnt.
Senior Lawyer of Anantnag Bar Pt.Prem Nath Bhat was killed. Director Door Dharshan Pt.Lassa Koul, Spl.Director Food Supply Department AK Raina,Satish Tikoo,Ms.Sarla (was sawed by a blade), Ms.Ganjoo of sopore, officials of intelligence bureau and hundreds of the members of KP Community were brutally murdered to get rid of the entire KP community from the soil of Kashmir.Chuni Lal Shalla, Inspector Jammu and Kashmir Police (CID) of Seer Jagir, Sopore while travelling in a bus from Kupwara to Sopore was brutally killed.By March 1990 most of the Pandits had left valley to save their lives and honour.
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 sympathizers.
After individual killings, mass massacre of Hindus started which frightened left over 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,which included infants, children, young, elderly and women also.
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 education 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 was tried for Inspector’s murder.
1986 became 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.
Although 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, rule was imposed.The political narrative unfolded on deadly communal lines being portrayed as a conflict between “Hindu” New Delhi (Central Government), and efforts to impose its will in the state, and “Muslim” Kashmir, represented by political Islamists and clerics.
Though the insurgency had been launched by JKLF, groups rose over the next few months advocating for 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 exiled population petitioned in various human rights forums and finally, the NHRC heard Union of India and JK State and opined and ruled in its full commission judgment,held —the systematic/planned ethnic cleansing inflicted on Kashmiri Pandits by terrorists that forced them to exit their homeland as -Acts of akin to Genocide. There after on the recommendation of State administration the MHA while banning the separatists outfits described ethnic cleansing and purging of KPs as the principal ground to seal and Ban the separatists/terror outfits operating in Kashmir.
The admission by State administration and MHA through Union Home Secretary in public domain, Media,social media and otherwise makes it obligatory on Union Government and LG to appoint a high level commission of inquiry.KPs have a very strong grounds for their persistent demand.
There are very strong grounds legally and otherwise to set up a Commission of inquiry headed by a retired Supreme Court Judge to be assisted by DGP,Director IB,Director CBI and DG NIA to probe into the heinous crimes of murders, loot, rapes, forcible land and properties grabbing of KPs and grabbing of Hindu religious endowments properties across the Valley, and And the conspiracies to inflict Genocide on six hundred thousand community of Kashmiri Pandits.
Successive Governments have failed so far.
Modi 2.0 on August 5th August 2019 made articles 370 and 35-A , inoperable by a constitution amendment.The action of Central Government is under challenge in the Supreme Court of the Country pending its final hearing before a five judge’s constitution bench.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi while highlighting the objective of this decision among other things said-
*Come, let us all together, build a new Jammu and Kashmir and new Ladakh with the new India’: PM Modi said, I have complete faith, under this new system, we all will be able to free Jammu and Kashmir of terrorism and separatism.
*President’s Rule benefited Jammu and Kashmir’: The decision to keep Jammu and Kashmir directly under Central administration for a brief period was a well thought over decision. Since Governor rule was implemented in Jammu and Kashmir, state administration has been directly in touch with the Centre due to which the effects of good governance can be seen on ground,
*PM made a dig at dynasty politics: Decades of family-based politics has provided no guidance to the youth of Jammu and Kashmir. Now the youth will help rise Jammu and Kashmir to heights like never before. I would like to appeal to all young boys and girls to come out and take the reigns of the place in their hands, PM Modi said.
*Those from Jammu & Kashmir who live outside and elsewhere And,want to return to their homes will be helped by us -PM Modi Said.
These promises of Modi-2.0 skyrocketed the expectations of the people especially the hapless exiled Kashmiri Pandits.
Thirteen months have gone by,except for repealing few redundant laws and bringing in the new Domicile regime, none of the promises is fulfilled.Terrorism is increasing,a usual success rate of neutralising of terrorists by the security force is visible,the total disconnect of UT administration with the people is a writ large and trust deficit between New Delhi and Kashmiris has widened. There is no dialogue/ engagement with the stake holders including the exiled Pandits nor is any effort to politically and ideologically strength the Idea of India on the horizon.
There is hardly any talk in the corridors of power in Delhi or JK Raj Bhawan about the return, restitution and retention of Pandits as a concentrated religious minority community physically in the Valley,nor is there any dialogue/engagement with their representatives in respect of any return plan and political empowerment module.The peace in Kashmir will always elude so will Modi’s Naya Kashmir agenda be a farce until the Exile of Pandits is reversed and they are the participants as a stakeholder in any future policy and political Process in Jammu and Kashmir.
30 years is long enough exile. Vistapith Kab Tak.
*KPs are indigenous religious minority,-At least to start with the LG shall accord a due statutory recognition. The following measures would necessary as CBMs to start with;
*Constitution of a State Minority Commission shall be one of the Several confidence building measure in this direction.
*Constitute a high level commission of inquiry (SIT) headed by a retired Supreme Court Judge with the assistance of DG NIA,Director IB,and DG JK Police etc. to inquire into the conspiracies of inflicting Genocide on KPs to eventually evict the community from their 5 thousand years of roots engraved in the Valley.
*MHA being nodal ministry shall start a structured dialogue with KPs for designing a comprehensive time bound package for return, restitution, rehabilitation and political empowerment, not to take more than two year and before the commencement of next assembly elections in the JK UT -for its implementation.
*Constitute a statutory task force Headed by Chief Secretary,-to protect,preserve and manage all the Valley’s Hindu religious shrines,endowments and properties and issue the ordinance accordingly.
It’s now or never situation for Reversal of exile of KPs.They hope and desire the end of their exiled life,30 years is too long to live in trauma.If the exiled community is not repatriated back to home land with dignity, pride, security and political empowerment, it would be the failure of the incumbent union government and abject incompetence of LG administration.
(The author is Senior Advocate Supreme
Court of India, An internally displaced
Kashmiri Pandit )