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A Valley in Tears

Crisis of Legitimacy

As the tragedy in Kashmir unfolds, human rights organizations in India and a road continue to censure India for its violations of the rights of terrorists to kill, maim and intimidate those who would differ with them. 

If these organizations are to have any legitimacy in the Kashmiri context, they must stand for human rights on all sides; they must condemn the depredations of the terrorists factions at least with the same vehemence that they complain of purported human rights violations by the democratically elected legitimate forces of law and order. 

Why have they not done so; why have they not recognized the individual rights of all Kashmiris - Asia Watch has recorded some of the violations, however, as a post-script, of course, gratefully acknowledged by Focus. 

What these organizations, have, perhaps, deliberately neglected is the fact that terrorism is real; that innocent men, women and children are dying because of the vicious actions of these hardened bands of outlaws. 

And that is the heart of the argument. These terrorists are outlaws, they are making war on the legitimate forces of a democratic societal order and any who support them. 

That innocents are dying is a terrible reality, but in this most dirty of proxy wars, innocents will continue to die until the terrorists allow a democratic peaceful political process to be established and implemented. 

Every democratic government has not only the right, but the duty to ensure the peace and maintain open and normal public congress in all areas of its citizens' concern, and that responsibility applies to all territories within the state's domain. 

Kashmir is within India's domain, and it is no less an integral part of the country than New Mexico is of the United States. India must fight those who would violently attempt to destroy its territorial integrity, and under international law, it has every right to do so. 

It is the terrorists who operate outside both international and Indian law, and it is the terrorists who cause the pain and suffering to continue. 

It would be appreciated if the various human rights groups no doubt needed as the sentinels of our freedoms, would at least acknowledge that the criminal forces making war on their own government, carry a heavy responsibility for the continuing erosion of human rights in the embattled Valley of Tears, the tragic vale of Kashmir.


The Year of the Phoenix

Notwithstanding the damage to virtually all elements that make up the economic and social infrastructure of Kashmir, economic growth has not only continued, it has increased in both breadth and depth, and at an ever-quickening pace. In many areas, growth has reached 100 percent over levels of five years before. 

As is the case elsewhere in India, Kashmiris fight the forces of death, dissolution and brutality, with the added force of economic productivity and an undying commitment to democracy. 

Private enterprise and state support have combined to produce a growing economic miracle throughout Kashmir. Agriculture accounts for more than 40 percent of Kashmir's economy, and its most important segment, rice, has achieved the highest productivity rate in the entire nation. 

In other areas, energy production will rise significantly when the Uri Hydel Power Plant comes on line. This plant, together with major government initiatives to increase rural development will further increase the region's economic comeback. 

And with the active support of a rapidly emerging private sector, small, but significant signs of a regenerating vitality are just beginning to make an impact and give hope to the people of this brutalized region. 

Together, these and other undertakings are acting as a kind of transfusion for the damaged body of Kashmir, a transfusion rich with new economic blood, and accompanied with a renewed political and moral will to fight the aggressors who would destroy what so many generations have dedicated their lives to build. 

Kashmir's war against evil is not yet won. But Kashmir's surprising economic gains in the midst of terror and turmoil are the bright promise, that like the Phoenix of legend, this benighted land will arise from its own ashes, brighter and more glorious than ever before. 

Publication: Focus, Vol. 2, No. 7, July 1992 .


Holocaust in Kashmir

A Cry in the Wilderness

Someone's father; someone's mother; someone's husband; someone's son; someone's daughter - each morning's roll call of death. Newspaper headlines, TV and radio headlines have been reduced to a litany of death and destruction as the once happy, smiling faces of the people of Kashmir, are transfigured with grief, shock bewilderment and above all, dismay. Terrorism is no respecter of the sanctity of human life and property. The terrorist's ethos is that of the criminal - kill, maim, and destroy. An ethos that has left its mark on innumerable households where tears are now commonplace and laughter an emotion long forgotten. 

Bonds of religion, family, history, culture; shared traditions of mutual help, courtesy and hospitality that characterised the Vale of Kashmir over the millennia have been callously torn asunder by renegades propounding a criminal philosophy ill disguised by a call to half baked ideals. And the land of laughter and plenty is today coloured by the blood of innocents sacrificed at the altar of terrorism. 

Would that the dead could speak! For if they could, they would with one voice, demand, from the keepers of the world's conscience, a condemnation of the ultimate sacrilege of terrorism, that has defiled and destroyed the peace and lives of the peoples of this once happy valley and now the Valley of Tears. 

Understanding The Kashmir Issue

The legal position of both India and Pakistan on Kashmir does not need any repetition. The moot point, however, is that the turmoil in Kashmir has transcended the legalities of the accession of the state in 1947, and the insurgency is not a phenomenon of political dissent or a movement meant to change the government but it is a "jehad", a religious crusade against the non-conformists. All Pakistani politicians, the state owned electronic media as well as the print media as a part of the disinformation campaign speak in religious terms: the turmoil is called 'Jehad-e-Kashmir'. The terrorists are called 'Mujahids' (soldiers of Islam), the terrorists, killed in the Armed action are called Shaheed (martyrs). 

Two Nation Theory

The covert objective of the so called jehad is to complete the 'unfinished agenda of partition' by incorporating the Muslim Majority state of Jammu and Kashmir in Pakistan in terms of the two nation theory that had rent the sub-continent apart in the past. The two-nation theory—that Hindus and Muslins constitute separate nations has already miserably failed, with the creation of Bangladesh. Moreover, the ethnic and sectarian violence rocking several provinces in Pakistan and the bare fact that the muslims, living in India outnumber the muslims in Pakistan have exploded the said two nation theory which was born out of political expediency. 

Notwithstanding the Pakistan still cherishes fond hopes to revive the theory, justify its existence and give renewed impetus to its ideological moorings in Kashmir valley. 

Strategy of Terrorism

Obstructing Pakistan's designs have been the Hindus, universally referred to as Pandits, who have lived in Kashmir for centuries, in fact even before the birth of Islam. 

Therefore, the terrorists, aided and abetted by Pakistan have resorted to killing Hindus systematically and methodically while at the same time introducing religious indoctrination, by misusing mosques and other available platforms, in a bid to frighten the secular Muslims. 

As part of unleashing terror under the cover of 'self determination' at the behest of Pakistan, the terrorists have ransacked libraries in educational institutions and prohibited books which did not conform to their brand of knowledge. No wonder, more than 2,000 titles were 'pruned'. They included all books of knowledge, Milton's Paradise Lost, G.B. Shaw's plays etc. As part of the 'Islamisation' drive the terrorists used their gun power to convert the canteen hall of Kashmir University into a mosque. Classes where Darwin's Theory of Evolution was taught were asked to close since it did not conform to the Islamic tenets. 

The list of innocent persons who fell prey to the bullets of terrorists is again illustrative of the Islamisation drive. The victims included prominent educationists and subscribers to secular ideals. Professor Mushir-ul-Haq, Vice Chancellor, Kashmir University who was kidnapped and shot dead during 'Ramadan', the holy month of fasting in the Muslim calender, Sarvanand Kaul 'Premi', a poet who used to take pride in reciting The Quran, P.N. Handoo, Assistant Director, information and octogenerarian Maulana Mohammad Syed Masoodi, a renowned Muslim scholar were among such victims at the hands of the terrorists. 

The motivation is obvious. There were people like them who could see the game and had the courage and conviction to speak out against the evil designs and hence some of them had to be singled out for silencing. 

Forced Migration from Kashmir

In the wake of ongoing terrorists' violence, hundreds of thousands have migrated from Kashmir valley. They included Muslims, Sikhs, and 72,000 Hindu (Kashmir Pandit) families. Since then a number of Muslim families have fled away from the Kashmir valley and barring a handful, no Hindus are left in Srinagar city.

The systcmatic process of killing the Hindu population began as early as February 27 in 1990 when Mr. Tej Krishan, a Hindu was hanged to death at Yachikot Lidder near Pahelgam in Anantnag district of the Kashmir valley. On April 22 same year the body of Joginder Malhotra was recovered by the police from Safakadal locality in Srinagar city. After five days, terrorists intruded in the house of Bharat Bhushan, another Hindu who was a medical assistant. He was abducted by the terrorists. His body was later found hanging from a tree. The process continued. The list is a long one and the stories of torture unleashed on the Hindu population are heart rending. 

Three Probationary officers of the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), an autonomous body, were abducted by the terrorists from a public park on June 23 in 1991. They were severely tortured and locked in a vacant house of a Hindu migrant. The house was later set on fire. Two of them died in the fire while the lucky one was rescued by the police and rushed to the Hospital. 

In October 1991, the terrorists embarked upon setting fire to the vacant houses of the migrants in a systematic manner. On October nine, the Devi Temple at Baramulla was set on fire. The roof of the temple was gutted in the fire. The same day the house of a Hindu, was gutted in Kupwara town, about 50 kms. from Baramulla. The process is continuing. It seems that the terrorists after killing the entire Hindu population from the Kashmir valley now want to close down any process of return of the Hindu population by burning their vacant houses, their last link with the valley. 

Whose Human Rights are Being Violated?

Pakistan is trying to focus exclusively on Indian Security Forces action against terrorists. In fact it is terrorists' violence that ultimately determines the limits and extent of state action to contain it. 

Terrorists' violence per se is a violation of human rights. The resolution of the UN General Assembly on measures to prevent international terrorism, passed on December 9 in 1985 followed by the Security Council resolution after nine days, interalia "unequivocally condemned as criminal, all acts, methods and practices of terrorism wherever and by whom ever committed, including those who jeopardised the friendly relations between states". 

Don't the terrorists have any responsibility? 

Moreover, are Human Rights meant only to protect a few fundamentalist Muslims in Kashmir against the authority of the state? Do they not equally involve protection of the Hindus, Buddhists, Shia Muslims and others against the extermination, persecution and threat?

Kashmir History and Politics

 

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World Kashmiri Pandit Conference, 1993
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