The Pariah Called Panun Kashmir
For political parties
in Kashmir, without an exception, Panun Kashmir is a pariah. Most of them
become hysterical on hearing its name. A grin is flashed across when its
mention occurs directly or indirectly in an odd seminar or symposium. An
impression is created that talking of Panun Kashmir is talking about the
wildest of crimes and calumnies.
The Government of India is prepared to talk to
the separatists and secessionists in Kashmir and without pre-conditions.
She will not talk to Panun Kashmir. And who are the separatists and secessionists?
Yasin Malik, the JKLF supremo has the murder case of six airforce personnel
pending against him. Bitta Karate said in a televised interview that he
could remember 22 killings of Kashmiri Pandits after which he lost the
count. Jamaat-e-Islami, a component of APHC declares waging of jihad meaning
armed uprising, its birthright to bring freedom to the Kashmir. To these
people and their leaders and supporters, the State and the Central government
will talk but not to the Panun Kashmir.
The reason for this calculated discrimination
is simple. Panun Kashmir represents the three lakhs of internally displaced
persons of Hindu religious minority in Kashmir. It is not a vote bank for
any political party. It has launched a non-violent struggle for homeland
and it does not play the game of this or that political party. Therefore
it is a pariah and must be dealt accordingly.
Panun Kashmir came into being as early as 1990
when exodus was forced on the entire Kashmiri Pandit community. In Margdarshan
resolution of 1990, it demanded homeland for the community in South Kashmir
with the option to place it under central administration, something short
of union territory, till the situation became conducive for the Pandits
to move about freely. For this demand, Panun Kashmir came to be labelled
as communal, anti-national,separatist, CIA-inspired, KGB-funded, Mossad-initiated
and MI-5 supported.
Farooq Abdullah, speaking in R.S. Pora last year
said that homeland for the displaced Pandits would be possible only on
his dead body. However, he has no inhibitions to confer autonomy to sub-regions
on religious basis, a process in which he fully aware the Pandits remain
sidelined as territoy-less community.
The APHC came into being many years after Panun
Kashmir was formed. Its leaders are in regular contact with the ISI, Pakistani
embassy in New Delhi, and other capitals of Islamic countries particularaly
Riyadh, which fund them. It demands secession from India and justifies
the use of gun by its activists. It gives frequent calls for strikes crippling
Kashmir economy. Despite all this, the APHC is recognised as a reality
and is offered unconditional talks.
Contrarily, Panun Kashmir is treated an outcast
because it opposes secession, rejects the gun, does not succumb to blackmail,
has not links with any organisation local or foreign, and does not go to
the doorsteps of foreign missions in New Delhi. Therefore, sincerely nationalistic
as it is, the Panun Kashmir is a pariah.
New Delhi is battling for talks separatists for
restoring peace in the strife torn state. The sky has been fixed as the
limit. But for Panun Kashmir it would not rise an inch not to speak of
sky limit. For the three hundred thousand persons hounded out of their
age-old places of origin, the only prescription with the Centre and the
State is to coerce them into returning to uncertain and insecure environs
in Kashmir where repeated massacres of minority community members takes
places. Authorities feel no need to talk to them.
When the prestigious International Commission
of Jurists (ICJK), a UN accredited NGO with the UNHRC asked the Government
of India to submit its observations, the official document mentioned about
ethnic-religious cleansing of 350,000 Kashmiri Pandit religious minority
in Kashmir by armed fundamentalists. It did mention about the pitiable
conditions of their refugee camps in Jammu. But when, in connection with
the petition filed by the Pandits before the National Human Rights Commission,
the Honourable Commission asked the Government of India to submit its report
on the exodus of the Pandits, it said that they had left of their free
will and nobody forced them to leave Kashmir. This double speak is a classical
example of politicising a human issue.
Panun Kashmir is as good a political group in
the State as APHC or any other group is. Its credentials are more agreeable
than those of APHC or any other organisation. No talks for restoration
of peace in Kashmir will meet success unless the issue of the Pandits is
resolved according to their wishes.
The UN bodies have recognised the essential principle
that the internally displaced persons have to be rehabilitated in their
land in a concentrated manner with constitutional and legal guarantees
for security, safety and perpetuity. Their representation in various organs
of the State has also been accepted as relevant to the enjoyment of human,
civil and political rights. The US Congress has also kept itself informed
of the rights and privileges of the internally displaced persons, including
the Kashmiri Pandits, and has, in fact, written to the Indian Prime Minister.
The European Parliament has also opined in favour
of safe and concentrated rehabilitation of the internally displaced persons.
Today, we hear from all sides the shrill notes
of Government's intentions/plans of taking back the Pandit displaced persons
to their respective places in the valley. There are various proposals prepared
by the state bureaucrats. Even a senior minister had an exchange of views
with a large gathering of Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu. This was followed
by statements and press releases from Panun Kashmir organisation's headquarters
in Jammu that the community had rejected the proposal of taking back the
Pandits without taking cognizance of ground realities..
The Pandits ask for their homeland in South Kashmir
with the option of inviting the Union Government to administer it in the
long run. The Hurriyat asks for rejection of Indian Constitution by the
people of Kashmir, rescinding of accession, which it considers fake and
illegal, and determining the will of the people to join one of the two
countries or even to remain independent. The Hurriyat's demands do not
make it a pariah, but PK's demand for homeland does make it a pariah. The
Hurriyat says that its men have suffered oppression and repression by the
Indian security forces and their sacrifices cannot go unrewarded. But the
killing of nearly two thousand innocent, harmless and unarmed Kashmiri
Pandits by the gun-wielding fundamentalists is not considered a sacrifice.
The decade- long continuing privations suffered by the Pandits in refugee
camps in Jammu and elsewhere are not considered a sacrifice.The status
of territo! y-lessness of the Pandits is not considered a sacrifice. Their
properties vandalised by the locals in Kashmir, or the distress sale of
properties inflicted on them is not considered a sacrifice. The endless
psychological and physical trauma suffered by the old, the weak, the women
and the deprived Pandits in exile are no sacrifices. Criminal policy of
destroying the educational career of brilliant Pandit student community
is not accepted a sacrifice. Still India claims to be secular and pluralistic
state and 'Kashmiriyat' the symbol of communal harmony in Kashmir.
The NC government has its own compulsions to coerce
the Pandits into returning to the valley. It is debating the autonomy bill
in the Legislative Assembly beginning on 19th of June. The bill is already
before the Union Cabinet. Passing the bill with the Pandits continuing
to remain the territory-less state subjects is an anathema. The NC wants
to overcome it by moving a few thousand Pandits to their respective places
and then declare to the world that normalcy is restored.
The Government would be first probing the rural
sections of Pandit displaced persons because according to its own calculation,
the villagers in the valley would not be that hostile to the Pandits. This
is a wrong hypothesis. The people in rural Kashmir are not what they were
ten years ago. Secondly, the neighbour of the Pandit in his village eyeing
his property, land, orchard etc. will, in ultimate analysis, prove more
threatening to the Pandit than the actual gun-wielding separatist.
The second compulsion for the government is that having taken a few thousand
Pandits to their places of origin, it would break the Panun Kashmir's demand
for homeland. Thirdly, Dr. Farooq Abdullah wants to take the credit to
be another Bud Shah of Kashmir who brought the Pandits back. He forgets
his own statement that he had sent three hundred of NC youth across the
border to receive training in arms because " he feared Jagmohan". He is
not bothered in what conditions he would be sending them back because he
knows in the eyes of New Delhi the Pandits are expendable. This would also
give legitimacy to his demand for enormous funds from the centre in the
name of rehabilitation of Pandits. Where the major chunk of those funds
would ultimately go, is a part of history.
Panun Kashmir is a reality and its demand for
Pandit homeland in South Kashmir is the reality of all realities. The Pandits
were entitled to it way back in 1949 when Article 370 was incorporated
into the Indian Constitution on the basis of Muslim majority character
of the State. But Pandits kept the demand in abeyance in the hope that
the State and the Central Governments would realise their moral duty of
empowering the Pandits in accordance with the international norms of empowering
minorities in a democratic set up. That did not happen. What happened was
their total extirpation in which many actors now shedding crocodile's tears
played their role, ru lers in Srinagar and Nnew Delhi included. No settlement
of Kashmir issue will be lasting unless the Pandits are provided with their
homeland. If the Indian Union thinks of writing off the Pandits from Kashmir,
it will be signing its own death warrant. Then it has no moral ! right
to be in Kashmir because its edifice of secularism and pluralism will be
dashed to ground. Its credibility in the comity of nations will fall to
nadir. And with that the tantrum of Kashmiriyat will be exposed. The Panun
Kashmir homeland is as real on the map of the subcontinent as the Kashmir
of Hurriyat's conception is.