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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 
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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. 

 

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World Kashmiri Pandit Conference, 1993
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