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We Must Speak Up For Kashmiri Pandits, But Not The Way Most People Do!

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By Saif Ahmad Khan:

One of the greatest tragedies about the debate revolving around the fate of Kashmiri Pandits is that the story of their pain and suffering has been communalized beyond imagination. Instead of objectively analyzing the causes and reasons behind the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits following the outbreak of insurgency in the Valley, secessionists and nationalists, both have tried to tell only that part of the conflict which has suited their political interests. It is high time that the truth which has been tightly concealed by these political players is brought to light.

kashmiri pandits

The first and foremost thing which we need to realize is that the Kashmiri Pandits were indeed driven out of their homes in a very unjust manner. According to government statistics (Reproduced by Zeenews.com on 16th May, 2012) there are no less than 58,697 Kashmiri migrants in the country. It is understandable that many of them happen to be Kashmiri Pandits who began to leave the Valley in large numbers starting 1989. The Hindu reported on March 24th, 2010 that 24,202 Kashmiri Pandit families moved out of the Valley due to tensions triggered by the insurgency. The penultimate question is what led to the exodus of Pandits? The secessionists pin the entire blame on Governor Jagmohan and exonerate Islamist extremists from any role whatsoever in being responsible for the ethnic cleansing. The nationalists argue that it wasn’t Governor Jagmohan but rather Kashmiri Muslim terrorists who made living in the Valley equivalent to hell for Kashmiri Pandits principally because of their Hindu identity and support for the Indian State. The truth of the matter is that the blame has to be shared between Kashmiri Muslim militants and Governor Jagmohan. Those secessionists and Kashmiri Muslim-sympathizers who say that militants were not hostile towards Pandits are being nothing but intellectually dishonest.

Since 1991, homes of 32,000 Kashmiri Pandits have been burned in the Valley as pointed out by Rahul Pandita (20th July, 2013, OPEN). There is no question of absolving the militants of the barbarism which they carried out by terrorizing Kashmiri Pandits. The threat which the Kashmiri Pandits faced from the militants was real and not some propaganda being carried out by RAW or IB. We must also realize that the manner in which Governor Jagmohan handled the entire situation was dismal and it only aggravated the crisis. Some narrations state that the exodus had already begun by the time he took charge but when a large threat looms over a certain section of people, the government’s job is to ensure their safety by strengthening security measures. Their confidence needs to be rebuilt and the government should exhort them to act with valour and confidence in the moment of crisis. Instead of doing this, Governor Jagmohan created a panic like situation in the Valley and facilitated the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits by providing them with transport vehicles to move out of the Valley. This was the monumental error on the part of Governor Jagmohan. He may have had no intentions of fuelling the exodus but his mismanagement of the entire conflict will never be forgotten or forgiven.

Another lie which is frequently told in the name of Kashmiri Pandits is that they have been the sole sufferers of the insurgency. Those who say this are basically communalists who love to rip the society apart on the basis of religion. All communities living within the Valley have suffered due to militants and terrorism. 36 Kashmiri Sikhs were killed in a brutal manner on 20th March, 2000 in Anantnang district of Jammu & Kashmir. The Indian Government puts the number of civilians who have died due to the conflict in Kashmir at 20,000 (Reported by Reuters.com on 21st November, 2008 in an article titled “India revises Kashmir death toll to 47,000”). The Government of Jammu and Kashmir has revealed that 219 Kashmiri Pandits were killed by militants between the years 1989 to 2004. It further stated that no killing of Kashmiri Pandits was recorded after 2004 (“219 Kashmir Pandits killed by militants since 1989,” The Hindu, 24th March, 2010). Statistics show that far more Kashmiri Muslims have died due to the conflict than Kashmiri Pandits as the total death figure of civilians is at 20,000. This punctures the communalist’s claims of the Kashmiri Pandits being the sole sufferers in the Valley.

Those who love to communalize this issue also try to portray that only Kashmiri Pandits exited the Valley and following their removal, Kashmiri Muslims lived with great joy. Statistics show that by 2010, there were 13,917 non Kashmiri Pandit families who migrated out of Kashmir because of the violence, out of the total 38,119 families registered with the Revenue and Relief Ministry. Some people raise the rhetorical cry of Kashmiri Pandits being relegated to refugees in their own country. While their anger is justified considering the fact that Kashmiri Pandits have still not returned to the Valley nearly 25 years after their exodus began, their selective narration of suffering is indeed very dangerous. There are various other states where large scale displacement has occurred frequently and people have lived in refugee camps for a long time. The Amnesty International stated in 2012 that at least 21,000 persons were living in transit relief camps even a decade after the 2002 Gujarat riots (“Gujarat Riot Victims Still Await Justice,” The Hindu, March 2nd, 2012). Following the Assam riots in 2012, lakhs of people were forced to live in relief camps. After the riots, some of the Bodos refused to allow Bengali-speaking Muslim migrants to come and live in their villages. Some of the Bodo leaders were firm upon their decision to first see the citizenship papers of the refugees. The refugees on the other hand claimed that they had lost all their belongings and documents in the arson caused due to the riots. They opined that this was a conspiracy by some Bodo groups to rob them of their land and homes. English magazine Frontline did a cover story on Assam riots following the mayhem in 2012. In that report, it documented that several such exoduses and mass displacement of people had taken place in Assam during the past two decades. The point is simple; several groups have suffered and made to live as refugees in India due to the negligence of the State. By calling Kashmiri Pandits the lone refugees, political opportunists are playing with fire.

It is true that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has made the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandit families a part of state policy but it has failed to effectively bring back the Pandits to their deserted homes. By and large, Kashmiri political heavyweights have forsaken the fight for Kashmiri Pandits. While there are massive agitations in Kashmir whenever Kashmiri Muslim youth are murdered illegitimately by the Indian army, there have been little or rather no agitations held in solidarity with the cause of Kashmiri Pandits. Secessionist leaders like Yasin Malik and Syed Ali Shah Geelani have only given token statements demanding the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley. Kashmiri Pandits avail of a facility which no other internally displaced group of people has in India. They are entitled to reservations under Kashmiri Migrant quota. Unfortunately, this quota has also been communalized. Right wing groups have protested in the past against Kashmiri Muslims getting admissions in educational institutions under the Kashmiri Migrant quota. Nevertheless, Kashmiri Pandits are scattered in different regions of India and are among the wealthiest refugees or internally displaced people.

Time and again, some subversive forces have utilized Kashmiri Pandits as strategic assets. While they claim to sympathize with them, they are not interested in rehabilitating them as it would lead to the death of their politics. Also, if Kashmiri Pandits are resettled in the Valley, the clamour for a plebiscite to determine the fate of Kashmir would grow. A plebiscite cannot take place in Kashmir until and unless the original demographic ratio is not arrived at. Political forces have taken contrasting stands on the issue of Kashmiri Pandits and their position is in alignment to their political interests. Lastly, the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits has also led to rise of the idea of Panun Kashmir. Panun Kashmir as an organization was formed in 1990 by some Kashmiri Pandits. Their solution to the Kashmir problem is a communal one as they are asking for creation of a separate homeland for Kashmiri Hindus in the Valley. This idea is bound to fail and trigger greater commotion because it is in absolute proportion with the original demand for Pakistan. The creation of Pakistan did not lead to safeguarding of minority rights in India or Pakistan, then how will the creation of Panun Kashmir lead to safeguarding of Kashmiri Pandits who are a minority in the state? Partition cannot be a solution because total population exchange is not a possibility. Some will always be left behind and be treated as slaves.

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  1. Gaurav

    this article is filled with falsehoods. I suggest that if someone really wants to understand the different riots in gujrat/assam or the ongoing genocide of hindus by muslims in kashmir and other parts of the world they can contact me at exhalted.moon@gmail.com

  2. Gaurav

    some points be highlighted
    – writer has mixed the issue of genocide of hindus in south asia with assam riots and gujrat arson

    – gujrat arson was an example where hindu men , women and and children were burnt alive and till date islamists continue to celebrate the death of civilians in godhra. there are many forums on the internet where one can find more info in that regard.

    – assam riot is because of untamed illegal migration and its intended and unintended consequences.

    – the ideas propogated above are usually found in the instruction manual of al qaida / taliban or LeT and this can be verified by visiting their sites and downloading their manuals
    – jagmohan was simply evacuating those hindus who said that since genocide of hindus has begun they should be allowed to leave as dictated by common sense. jagmohan was not responsible for exodus at all.
    – major sources of information on islamic genocide of hindus in india can be found on youtube, books like inside alqaida by saleem shahzad, why i am not muslim by ibn warraq and descent into chaos by ahmed rashid. youtube videos of benazzir bhutto’s speech in 1989 in pakistan is also a pointer in the right direction. more sources will be provided very soon to counter the justification of genocide of hindus and selective narrative building attempted by the writer above

  3. adwait

    article is devoid of facts .article may be biased because he is a muslim & doesnt have the guts to speak the truth + he is a person who doesnt have much knowledge
    facts
    1.the americans r funding taliban + jihadi groups in afghanistan to defeat soviets
    2.just as the soviet union is removed USA returns back home + these CIA created jihadi groups try to expand.inspite of being a minority,the hoghly educate kashmiri pandits have 86% of the gov jobs.there is no reservation in education or jbs for the pandits
    3.the majority population is enraged & jealous bcoz of highly intellectual minority
    4.benazir bhutto makes speeches which instigate the valley people & brainwash them
    5.elections r conducted but if the party which was touted to win , assures of an islamic state wid sharia laws if it wins the election which is against the constitution .
    6.gov of india comes to know of it & to maintain the secular fabric of india fudges the elelctons
    7.farooq abdullah is made cm by the gov in delhi
    8 kashmiri muslims give kashmiri pandits 3 options 1.convert to islam 2.leave the state 3.die
    9pandits choose the third option
    10.prominent supreme + high court judges r killed at srinagar chowk in daylight
    11.a kashmiri pandit is gangraped ,her breasts r cut off & she is hanged by the tree
    12.another teacher belonged to the kashmiri pandit community has her head chopped off by the saw machine
    13 bcoz of numerous incidents pandits r scared for life
    14but actual shock occurs on 19 jan 1989 =1100 mosques play this
    Asi gachi Pakistan, Bata ros ta batanev san.
    (We want Pakistan, with Kashmiri Hindu women and without their men-folk).
    15 many kashmiri women committed suicide bcoz they feared they would be raped by muslims
    16.bitta karate a militant alone has killed 20+ pandits & he has accepted this fact http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fH6gaY9XoKE
    17.writer is lying when he says only 219 died .kashmir doesnt have RTI system therefore the exact no is not known to ny1 except the IB
    ,raw
    18.the writer also doesnt tell out of 47,000 how many of them were militants .again twisting of facts
    19.200 temples have been destroyed in kashmir y????
    20.writer also fools people that assami muslims r refugees.but doesnt state time y??
    21.he also doesnt want to acknowledge that bangladeshi infiltrators enter our country y????
    a request to youth ki awaaz i am ready to write an article rebutting the above 1 but dont know how to write 1 for ur site .please also have an editor who’s been an ambassador to pakistan or has been an IAS officer & is impartial eg :- wajahat habibulah .
    kashmir is a sensitive issue dont allow any crap to be written about kashmir

  4. Gaurav

    the above article is a full of misinformation aimed at deflecting the real issues. kashmir is very much part of the islamic agenda of koran sanctioned ethnic genocide of all non muslims with the single objective of establishing islamic caliphate. the above articles has more holes then neurons in the brain of one human.

  5. vivek

    the problem with such blogger is misinformation paired with an urge to show that he is not at all biased. the blog is like a cricket match swinging from this side to that side which makes it interesting but at last match ends in a draw which some people would think as a goo result while some would say we wasted our precious time, latter being my case.

  6. Sonia Chaudhary

    Why the damn you have suggestions on protest of Kashmiri Pandits? I suggest you to chart out similar advise for Jehadies and send it directly to Hafiz Saeed. Put a copy to ISIS as well.

  7. Ridwan

    32000 pandit homes burned in Kashmir? Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Quoting a pandit isn’t evidence. Repeating such claims doesn’t make it true either.

    The reality is that the people who wanted pandora gone have won. It’s been 25 years, the young pandora are more at home in Delhi than Srinagar. They don’t have a real desire to move back. Only old age pandits wish to move back. Pandit culture was destroyed in exile. Another generation or two and pandits will have entirely assimilated into non-Kashmiri cultures the way most Dindhis have.

  8. rattan razdan

    Cocktail of some truth,some lies. The Cock is standing with one leg hiding.He may believe that he con satisfy the readers but can the Sun be hidden ? though occasionally by the clouds and that too for some time. Which trucks were sent by Governor to Habbakadal,,Zainakadal,Bohrikadal and downtown? Who were the drivers ? who were the coolies ,auto-wallas and tonga wallas who brought pandits to Lal Chowk or tourist Reception Centre to board the buses to Jammu. Truth is that the very neighbors and friends persuaded them that they will not be able to protect them and hence shall leave. The agenda of their intention to grab their properties became crystal clear and can be proved by the encroachments still existing or the distress sales to the very people/through the very people.There can be no equation made between the pandits and the Muslims as far as politics is concerned.The simple fact is Pandits are Indians and far PIndia. The problem is with the Muslim community.They are not clear what they want.If they want to be in Pakistan/Pakistan in the Valley/Indepedence.If they want that Pakistan should Govern them,it could have been achieved by simply going there and settling but those who went there for traing and Jihad are returning with bunch of wives and children from Pakistan and seeking rehabilitation on money from Govt of India which is advised not to settle the Pandits in cluster.

  9. Arun Zutshi

    More than 5000 Kashmiri Pandits have been killed in the last 25 years. More than 3000 temples of Kashmiri Hindus have been damaged. The most important temple of Srinagar based Kashmiri Pandits, ie Ganpatyar temple at Habba Kadal was attacked and its Shivling was struck and broken, it is now kept at the Zyesteshwar Shrine. Thousands of our houses were burnt in absentia. Muslim Migrants that left Kashmir have mostly returned. No one has told me that they cannot return or how they can return.
    The state government never helped the KPs. The militants had chanted ” kashmir without hindu men but with their women and girls”. Remember this happened all over the valley. ?
    Muslims and Seculars should understand our pain. You are talking about this religious jehadi movemnet in the capital of Kashmir. how would muslims feel if Hindu religious mobs were marching through Delhi with AK 47s chanting ” Musalman Hindustan chod do apni behenei chod jao”. How would you feel if your Hindu neighbours in Delhi were to shower ladoos and sweets on these marching processions. Imagine every temple in Delhi blaring slogans calling you names. In Kashmir it was ” E zalimon e kafiron Kashmir humara chod do”. I request you imagine if you had been through this in the capital city of Delhi and noone was punished for this. Imagine if they drove your community out of old Delhi by giving deadlines and ultimatums and drove you to Aligarh and Rampur.
    Will you return to those neighbourhoods? Will you?

  10. kaushik

    Reading comments from muslims I am appalled. A muslim, even if he is educated or not will always back another muslim and the so called Jihad in general. As Savarkar had demanded, had we done the exchange of population in 47, the rest of India would be a better place. Muslims are not happy anywhere in the world. When they are in minority, they will kill others and when they are majority they kill each other. I pray to God that this satanic cult is wiped out from face of earth or learn to live in peace with others. You will see the reactions to my post now- by swearing and so on. This is the reality of Islam. It stands exposed because of social media.

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