Genocide of Kashmiri Hindus

The saga of unabashed and most cruel atrocities on Kashmiri Hindus (the word Pandits
tacitly alienates them) may be briefly stated thus:

i) Assault and persistent Islamic torture by successive Moslem Afghan Rulers for centuries (between the mid-eighteenth to early nineteenth century ), ii) Butchering by tribal militants from Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province in the post-independence period, during the reign of Maharaja Hari Singh, aided by Pakistani soldiers, iii) Maharaja Hari Singh’s signing the Instrument of Accession with India on 26 October 1947 paving the way for the Indian army to drive away the aggressors, and a suicidal if not a treacherous inaction of the so called secular Indian Prime Minister (in the hide of a Kashmiri Pandit) who restrained the advancing Indian military action to evacuate militants from Kashmir, iv) In July 1988 the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, a
terrorist organization, officially launched its jihad or armed struggle for freedom from India, v) Ethnic cleansing with the gruesome murder of the leading Hindu community leaders like Pandit Tika Lal Taploo in Srinagar on 14 September 1989 and many others, vi) In the 1990s, when 3,50,000 Pandits migrated from the Valley and sought refuge in Jammu ( Men, women and children), felt dazed and upset when they found
themselves housed in classrooms, temples, inns, sheds, tents and dormitories, vii) 1990 indeed was a dark, landmark year, as the militant outfit Hizb-ul Mujahideen issued an ultimatum for the Pandits to vacate Kashmir or face dire consequences. The security forces including the police were unable to provide protection to the minority community (Hindus). The authorities in the state and the Centre made no effort to prevent the atrocities committed against the Pandits. Targeted kidnappings and killings, rapes and massacres of Pandits who lingered on, became a routine affair.
viii) The massacre of Pandits by militants in Sangrampora, Budgamin March 1997, Gool
in June 1997, Wandhama near Ganderbal in January 1998 and Nadimarg, Pulwama in
March 2003, made it clear that Pandits were not safe in their own land.”

1. As Argha Banerjee, currently the Dean of Arts St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, in his
article-—Banished from Home ~I, (The Statesman,13.08.2017) gives a chronological account of the unbridled ethnic destruction of Hindu culture and Hindu population under the aegis of the then secular Government—to perpetrate a shameful and sinful sacrilege on the innocent Kashmiri Hindus. Now, with the emerging independent national media, and the cloak of secular garb worn so long by secularists having been blown away and tattered into pieces of thread, truth is gradually revealed. Information on the cruel exodus and consequent misery and suffering of Kashmiri Hindus has been
percolating down to the major Hindu population– seduced but groaning under
the bulldozed bloody heels of camouflaging, and unabashedly appeasing, secular
administration.

As Rahul Pandita has pointed out, though just around three and a half lakh Pandits were affected and around 700 killed, the act of ethnic cleansing is comparable to the shocking violence in Bosnia. What is tragic is that most of the Kashmiri Hindus (Pandits) have been forced into permanent exile following their persecution and displacement from the Valley.

2. From the mid-eighteenth to early nineteenth century, in fact for most Afghan rulers, tyranny, persecution and repression of the Pandits was an integral part of their political
stratagem. In his book, The Valley of Kashmir, Walter R Lawrence commented on one of
the Afghan governors, Assad Khan: “It was his practice to tie up the Pandits; two and
two, in grass sacks and sink them in the Dal lake.” Besides such humiliation, as
Lawrence affirms in his book, the Pandits were subjected to other forms of oppression as well:
‘The Pandits, who formerly wore moustaches, were forced to grow beards, turbans and shoes were forbidden, and the tika or forehead mark was interdicted. It is said that the exaggerated forehead marks and the absurdly long turbans now affected by the
Pandits, still serve to keep alive the memories of the tyranny of Pathan times. The jazia or polltax on Hindus was revived, and many Brahmins either fled the country, or were
killed or converted to Islam.’

3. It was only under the rule of the Sikhs and the Dogra regimes that the socio-economic
position of the Hindus relatively improved. In October 1947, in the post-independence
period, during the reign of Maharaja Hari Singh, tribal militants from Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province, aided by Pakistani soldiers attacked Kashmir, butchering hundreds of Hindus (Pandits). It was at this juncture that Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession with India on 26 October 1947, paving the way for the Indian army to drive away the aggressors which unfortunately was only partly allowed to be achieved. In the subsequent decades, Kashmiri Pandits became more vulnerable with the rise of militancy in the Valley during the late 1980s.

They initiated the ethnic cleansing with the gruesome murder of the leading Hindu
community leader, Pandit Tika Lal Taploo in Srinagar on 14 September 1989. The
subsequent months witnessed assassinations of several high profile Hindu personalities. These killings included Justice NK Ganju of the Srinagar High Court and the veteran poet
Sarwanand Kaul Premi. An outstanding scholar, he had translated Tagore’s Gitanjali and the Bhagwad Gita into Urdu, Hindi and Kashmiri. A deeply secular personality, he even treasured a rare manuscript of the Koran in his prayer room. Both Sarwanand and his son Virender were killed by militants in the most gruesome manner. Besides being shot, the police “found their bodies hanging from a tree a day later”. The terrorists had
“hammered nails between their eyebrows, where the tilak is applied” besides
mutilating their bodies with cigarette burns. Alongside these killings, atrocities on
Pandits were perpetrated relentlessly as kidnapping and physical torture multiplied.
As Shaleen Kumar Singh observes in his memoir Pandits and Dogras: “The whole
Kashmir scenario changed in the 1990s, when 3,50,000 Pandits migrated from the
Valley and sought refuge in Jammu.”

The sudden splurge of violence and fundamentalism came as a rude shock to most
people in the Valley. As Subhash Kak expressed in his poem ‘Snow in Srinagar’:
“Who knew then that decades later a terror will come to Srinagar/ And I will be unable to
see my home where I was born/ Where we had played cowries on any new snows”.

Early in January 1990, masked terrorists filled the streets of Srinagar, inflammatory
speeches were made at the mosques and walls were defaced with posters promoting a strict Islamic way of life. The militant outfit Hizb-ul Mujahideen issued an ultimatum for the Pandits to vacate Kashmir or face dire consequences.

The security forces including the police were unable to provide protection to the Hindu
minority community. The authorities in the state and the Centre made no effort to
prevent the atrocities committed against the Pandits. Targeted kidnappings and
killings, rapes and massacres of Pandits who lingered on became a routine affair.
The massacre of Pandits by militants in Sangrampora, Budgamin March 1997,
Gool in June 1997, Wandhama near Ganderbal in January 1998 and Nadimarg,
Pulwama in March 2003, made it clear that Pandits were not safe in their own land.”
(Banished from Home–I, Argha Banerjee, The Statesman,13.08.2017)

4. In this context, we mention Indu Bushan Zutshi’s memoir – “She was killed because
she was an informant; no harm will come to you provides a poignant narrative of the
persecution of a Pandit family in Anantnag in April 1990. Sarla Bhat (in her twenties), a staff nurse at the Sher-I Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences in Soura, having been abducted from her hostel on 15 April, four days later, her mutilated body was found in the downtown area of Srinagar. A hand-written note attached to the body accused her of being a police informant. The trauma of confronting the reality is aptly summed up by Zutshi as the police force handed over the body of Sarla to her family: “We were horrified to see the body when it was handed over to Sambhu Nath. It was bullet-ridden and covered with blood. There were torture marks all over the body. It became clear to us that she had been violated and sexually assaulted before being killed.”

Coming from a respectable family, Sarla had been abducted, raped and brutally slaughtered, but even her family members were helpless in their inability to provide a dignified cremation. The impact of Sarla’s death is reminiscent of Rushdie’s portrayal of horror in Shalimar the Clown: “Kill one, scare ten…and ten were indeed scared.” In case
of families which did not provide any apparent signs of provocation there were other means of intimidation. In fact it was not unusual for Pandit houses to be targets of random stone pelting by masked youngsters. Ironically, as some memoirs affirm, in several cases, the masked youngsters were mostly adjacent neighbours.”

As Meenakshi Raina recounts in her autobiographical ‘Nights of Terror’: On a
cold December night in 1989, a bunch of masked youngsters threw stones at our house
in Srinagar. We suspected some of them to be our neighbors. They knew who we were and what we did. They shouted our names and jeered at us. We switched off the lights in the rooms and huddled inside. The din of the stones smashing against the rooftop was so loud that it felt as if it was raining stones from the sky. Most of the window-panes
shattered and pieces of glass lay scattered everywhere inside the house… That night
none of us slept as fear gripped each one of us. Even before this incident, my father had
received a threatening letter from a militant organisation, warning him to leave Kashmir. As fear gripped the entire family, most of the members moved to the relative safety in Jammu. For most senior citizens, adjusting to displacement from home was even more traumatic. As Meenakshi Raina captures the experience of her grandmother, “When my grandmother arrived in Jammu, the look on her face was horrific. I will never forget that look. I comforted her by telling her that we would be safe now”.

She was haunted by the slogans cried by the local militants to hassle the Kashmiri Pandits:Assigacchipanunuy Pakistan, Batavrostuybatinensaan. (We want our Pakistan, without the Pandit men, but with their women). Similarly, in her memoir The
Day I became a Tourist in My Own Home, Minakshi Watts iterates the sufferings
inflicted on the elderly: “What pains me the most is how it changed the lives of my elders — my parents and grandparents. The lives that once sparkled with adventure and laughter now carry unspoken stories of a gruesome past, the wounds, and the atrocities inflicted upon us by militants and their sympathisers and supporters.”

A close perusal of the memoirs and other writings of the Kashmiri Pandits in exile reveal
their prolonged exposure to trauma and pain in the relocated camps in Jammu as well. For Santosh Kumar Sani, a doctorate in Economics from the University of Jammu,
the relative safety of displacement to Jammu is accompanied by the trauma of trying to
acclimatise to life in the camps. Dr Sani in his memoir ‘From Home to Camp’ articulates the horrors of trying to adjust to camp life in Jammu:
“The thought of our family’s life in the camp at Purkhoo shatters me. It calls up a
nightmarish picture of degradation, humiliation and decline. I have been an
unhappy spectator of the miseries of other displaced Pandits who were forced to run
away from Kashmir for no fault of theirs. A peace-loving community suddenly found
itself on the road”. Most of these camps in Purkhoo, Mishriwala, Muthi and Nagrota were
unhygienic as they did not have proper sanitation, toilet facilities and water supply was scarce.

As Rahul Pandita narrates in ‘Our Moon Has Blood Clots’, “When I went there for
the first time, I remember being confronted with the turgid smell of despair emanating from the people who waited for their turns outside latrines, or taps.” As most of the members living in the camps hailed from a rural agrarian background most struggled to adjust to the nascent urban lifestyle. Some male members were easy targets to social ills like gambling and alcoholism. In most cases, intimidation gradually paved the way for terror and coercion that ultimately forced the Pandits to leave the valley and seek refuge in Jammu and other parts of north India. (Banished from Home ~ II, Argha Banerjee,
August 14, 2017)

5. Farooq Abdullah, Ex. Chief Minister, talking about Kashmir and Kashmiris, has
objected to some people trying to question their nationality. “Who are they to ask us about our nationality? We Kashmiris chose India over Pakistan during Partition because
India guarantees equality. And I say it with pride that I am an Indian Muslim,” he said.
“They talk a lot but lack in action,” Abdullah added. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had
reached out to Kashmiris in his Independence Day speech and sought a peaceful resolution to the problems in the Valley. (PTI | New Delhi, August 17, 2017)

6. Harsha Kakar, a retired Major-
General of the Indian Army writes on August 15, 2017 under the caption — Valley shaken by Art. 35A debate, that the boundaries of J- K, the most diverse state of the nation, have remained unchanged, though it should ideally have been split into manageable entities.Arguments on accession versus merger are the main cause for this restriction. J-K is the only state which acceded to India, but did not merge.

Thus, the state continues to have its own flag, constitution and traditional
boundaries. After seventy years of independence, it is time the state became
a part of the union, like all others. Maintaining its status under the pretext
of Articles 35A and 370 is an idea which has outlived its utility.

The initial reason for including these articles appears to be lost in time; however it can be safely deduced that the logic was to maintain the cultural identity of the state and that its citizens should not lose any advantage by becoming Indian nationals.This logic has been twisted and turned to indicate a desire of the Centre to change the demography of the valley, which is unacceptable to the locals. This thought is wrong in many ways. The J-K high court had ruled in October 2015, that article 370 is ‘permanent, beyond amendment, repeal or abrogation’.

This was struck down by the Supreme Court within a short time when it stated
that (article 370) can be removed by Parliament. This implies recommendations for
the same flowing from the J-K legislature, an action unlikely in the near future. Thus, the battle shifted to Article 35A. This article has been discriminatory in many forms even for its own populace.While women who marry outside the state lose their rights, men are permitted to do so.Kashmiris, who migrated to Pakistan, remain citizens for two generations, while those who migrated from Pakistan ( Hindus) are denied rights. By losing rights, they are unable to own property, seek government jobs, college admissions, aid and scholarships.

7. The battle is now in the Supreme Court, repercussions of which are already being felt across the state. Possible removal of Article 35A has created such fear within valley based political parties constituting Kashmiri Muslims, that they have not only joined
hands to fight the case, but have also threatened the nation.

Farooq Abdullah claimed that removal of the article would see riots of a scale never witnessed before, while Mehbooba Mufti stated that there would be no one to
hold the national flag in the valley.OmarAbdullah announced plans to begin
an awareness campaign on the article in the valley. Pakistan has joined the chorus
by stating India plans to change the demography of the region. All this to justify
a wrong, and brainwash the population of the valley. In seventy years of the existence of the article, residents of Jammu and Ladakh could always purchase land
and property in the valley. There was no such movement.

8. The valley demography has remained unchanged. After the ethnic cleansing of
Kashmiri Pundits in the early 1990s, the properties of those migrating were bought
by local Kashmiri Muslims, not by residents of Jammu. Thus, the demography
changed in the reverse direction, rather than as being projected. The state has only
witnessed migration towards Jammu. Kashmiri Muslims in the valley refused
to allocate land for returning Kashmiri Pundits, ex-servicemen of the state and
migrants from Pakistan.

Large numbers from the valley have bought properties in Jammu, alongside Rohingyas
and Bangladeshis and are migrating there, changing the demography of the Jammu
region. Jammu desperately desires removal of the article as it also prohibits development and infusion of funds.Political parties presently threatening the government on the issue of Article 35A, represent the valley.

None of them have ever explained to the residents of the state the benefits of
complete merger with the Union which include flow of capital, development,
improvement of facilities etc. The issue is being converted into a religious one.

The valley is worried about a change in its Muslim majority status. There are also claims
that only Hindus in the Jammu region desire its removal, not Muslims, a claim which is false. Mehbooba Mufti even rushed to Delhi to seek the intervention of the Prime
Minister. The state government cannot consider only the valley when it seeks to oppose court directions against the article. It must take the opinion of the rest of the state.

Further, this was also a part of the BJP election manifesto, hence it swept to power.
The second option is to conduct a referendum across the state on the issue. Here again, valley- based political parties are scared as the chances of obtaining majority appear dim. The valley cannot hold the rest of the state to ransom, nor can valley-based
political parties ignore the rest of the state for their own survival.

9. In the final analysis it transpires that with the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus from the Kashmir valley, there has been an obvious tilt in Jammu population and deserves delineation of Assembly representation based on population. Once this justice is meted out, the number of MLAs is likely to go up in the Jammu region and Ladakh to change the present equation.

The flow of fund from Pakistan and Islamic nations and organisations for the militants
through hawala and other clandestine sources being monitored and restricted by the Central Government and Security agencies has also started showing results.

The cases of instant triple talaq has been recently ruled by the Supreme Court as
unconstitutional and the matter of right to inheritance of Kashmir property by Kashmiri
women, married outside Kashmir, awaits final judgement. Against this backdrop many Muslim leaders are raising dissenting voices and threatening with unprecedented agitation.

But the fate of the nation cannot be left to the whim and religious bigotry of only a section of the community in the valley at the cost of national integrity, security, peace and justice which remained underscored all these 70 years under an appeasing, infidel secular Congress gang which since inception was responsible for deliberately committing a Himalayan blunder after the Accession of Kashmir with India on
26 October 1947, to keep the issue unresolved even after the Indian army was on its winning spree, close and thereby winning over, and settle score with Pakistan, to entirely occupy Kashmir, to keep the crown of Indian territory free from foreign occupation. The Indian population has not forgotten this unpardonable mistake on the part of the then PM Nehru which has brought down our nation to this ruinous pass.

10. “Na gaali se samasya sulajhne waali hai, na goli se samasya sulajhne waali hai;samasya suljhegee har Kashmiri ko gale lagaa kar ke (The Kashmir problem cannot
be solved either with abuse or bullets, but by embracing every Kashmiri),” the Prime Minister had said on Independence day at the Red Fort. The Editorial, The Statesman commented on August 17, 2017, “The proverbial ‘miles to go’ must come into play in respect of the Prime Minister’s welcome suggestion of a nuanced outreach to the alienated Kashmir Valley in an Independence Day address that ticked all the right boxes. Rightly did the Prime Minister emphasise from the Red Fort that there would be no relaxation on the counter- insurgency front, yet he will have much work to do before a new template is created in which protests by the common folk (now school-girls included) are not bracketed with gun-toting militants.”

11. The Sanskrit saying goes that– – Even if a margosa ( neem) fruit is kept steeped in milk, it fails to drive away its bitterness. We need to remember the fact that terrorism is the deliberate and systematic murder, maiming and menacing of the innocent to inspire fear for political ends. And experts have also urged that terrorism should not only be
stopped but it can be stopped and the only thing required for the same is an all out or
total war against it smashing its ability to deliver repeated blows.

12. As a long term humane strategy, the path of spiritual awakening is for the benefit of all countrymen. No superficial sloganeering but imparting updated scientific and moral education from the life and teachings of great men and seers across the world may have its salutary effect.Association makes a person perfect. Elevation of every person in the country through proper education and Satsang can greatly help to dispel the encircling gloom that has gripped our culture, society and nation. But, the Prime Minister’s clarion call to embrace Kashmiris with love should first precede efforts to rehabilitat the 3.5 lakh suffering Hindus- the Kashmiri Pandits to restore of confidence and bestow justice.
The message communicated by the Hon’ble Prime Minister reflects to his magnanimous
Hindu mindset, spiritual upbringing and a saintly resolve to ensure love and justice for all.
A wise man’s saying goes –

Who does not know that special personalities are characterised by their
harshness, harder even than thunder and their mildness softer than flowers.Let the Lord’s mercy descend on him for a perfected vision enabling him to deal a death
blow on the dreadful and demoniacal anti national forces for the establishment of
Dharma Rajya.

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