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An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

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NHRC'S Verdict on Kashmiri Pandits

 After four years of prolonged discussions and hearings, arguments and counter arguments, NHRC of India has finally given its verdict on three hundred thousand internally displaced Kashmiri Pandits. It has dismissed both of their pleas, genocide and internal displacement. The actual text of the verdict is not with us and we have only seen its excerpts in national and local newspapers.

 A cursory glance on the verdict reveals that the NHRC has very cleverly tried to play safe and avoid telling the bitter truth. It is a clear bid to please everybody and every party involved in the tragedy that overtook the Pandits. A close study of the verdict shows that political considerations have become a strong constraint for the Commission to call a spade by its name. The question is whether by trying to play safe, the Commission has really achieved its objective of being projected as impartial? Impartiality of a body that has been constituted on the premise that it will only take into account the human rights aspect of issues before it, stands eroded when it chooses to be friends to all, the oppressor and the aggrieved. Let us substantiate it.

 By juxtaposing the numbers of people of two communities, Hindus and Muslims, killed in Kashmir, the Commission has tried to convey that the Muslims have suffered more than the Kashmiri Pandits have. The Pandits never made any plea that the number of the members of their community was more than that of the Muslims. The Pandits had made simply two cases (a) genocide was unleashed against them (b) they were internally displaced people, as they had not crossed the international border. Therefore, to bring in the number of the Muslims killed in Kashmir is an extraneous matter, which the NHRC has linked up with the case of the Kashmiri Pandits only to win the goodwill of the State government, the majority community of Kashmiri Muslims and their sympathizers like APHC.

 The NHRC has made an allusion to the communal harmony among the two communities in Kashmir in the past and has made it synonymous with ‘Kashmiriyat’. This assertion is certainly outside the legitimate jurisdiction of the NHRC. It is not the business of the NHRC to pronounce judgement on controversial issues of history, which even the recognized historians have not tried to adjudge to their finality. One would like to ask the NHRC which authentic works of Kashmir history did it consult by way of recorded evidence in support of their assertion’ We would help the Honorable Commission to consult at least three histories authored by the Muslims and considered as the most dependable histories of medieval and modern Kashmir. These are (1) Baharitan-e-Shahi, AD 1622, written by an anonymous author (now identified as Sayyid Muhammad Mehdi by more recent researches), translated from original Persian MS into English with annotations by Dr KN Pandit and published by Mukhopadhiya, Calcutta 1991, (2) Tohfatu’l-Ahbab or the Biography of Shamsu’d-Din Araki, Persian MS written by Muhammad Ali Kashmiri in AD 1632 and translated and published by Muhammad Reza Akhund Zadeh, in Khaplu, Baltistan (Northern Areas of  Pakistan) in 1998. (3) Tarikh-e-Kashmir by Prized Ghulam Hassan Khuihami in Persian in 1891 and published by  JK Academy of Art, Language and Literature in Srinagar in 1971.

 All the three histories are most important source material for Kashmir history of mediaeval (Sultanate) times. Had the Honorable Commission cared to go through this fund of source material compiled by the local Muslim historians, we are sure it would have never passed the verdict of prevalence of communal harmony among the two communities in Kashmir. Nor would they have landed in the totally misleading concept of ‘Kashmiriyat’. After reading the above mentioned three sources of mediaeval Kashmir, the  Honorable Commission would have no difficulty in arriving at the conclusion that ‘Kashmiriyat’ is synonymous with ‘Islamization’ in Kashmiri parlance.

 To be only brief, Tohfatu’l-Ahbab, for example, devotes one full chapter to the story of destruction of temples in the length and breadth of Kashmir valley by Mir Shamsu’d-Din Araki and his Kashmiri disciples. Had the Honorable Commission studied these works with patience and in detail, it would have certainly found a new dimension of genocide. Look at the superb cleverness of circumventing the core issue. The Honorable Commission says what happened in Kashmir were genocide-like activities but not genocide.

 Where is the dividing line between genocide-like activities and actual genocide’ In regard to the question of numbers among the Hindus and the Muslims killed in Kashmir, we have to be very clear in what it means. Where the Muslims killed with the avowed objective of bringing about ethno-religious cleansing of the Muslims in the valley’ No not at all. Most of it was personal vendetta, old feuds and rivalries, disputes over property and women etc. How can the motives of these killings be equated with the motives behind the killing of the Pandits or handing out threats to them from mosque tops and through paid ads in the print media’ The militant leadership made repeated statements that the Pandits can come back but only on condition that they will join the movement against India and fight side by side with the insurgents. No such condition has even been imposed on Muslims of the Valley who leave the Valley and have bought property (houses and land) in different parts of the country.

 The Honorable Commission should have taken note of the fact that no residential house of a Muslim migrant was either looted or set on fire or destroyed and vandalized. On the contrary, nearly 25 thousand houses of the Pandits were looted, vandalized and then set on fire. Not a single house or property of the migrated Muslim has been illegally or forcibly occupied in his absence. In comparison to this, all the Pandit houses have been forcibly and illegally occupied along with their property and immovable household effects. How sad that the Honorable NHRC should have surrendered to political expediency while it was expected to be impartial, just and forthright. What does it mean that the Pandits demand for an inquiry into the entire rise of militancy and the exodus of the community is understandable’ Why this understatement’

 The Honorable Commission, if convinced of violation of human rights of the Pandits, as it appears to be, should have issued instructions to the central and the state governments to constitute a commission of inquiry with clearly defined terms of reference and a time frame within which it should submit its report. By making a casual and half-hearted reference to the issue, the Honourable Commission has only tried to play safe with the government. The recommendation that living conditions of the internally displaced people be improved, is what every ordinary visitor to the refugee camps has been saying. That is what foreign pressmen or human rights organizations visiting the camps have very often told the government. The Honorable Commission has just completed the formality by writing down a soothing sentence in the verdict. The Honorable Commission, fully aware of the living conditions in this country and the state, should have specified the amount of relief, the specific improvements in living conditions like the specifications of the one-room tenement, sanitary requirements, protection against heat and rain, repairing of the hutment, healthcare facilities, education, environmental security etc. What is shocking is that the Honorable Commission has not even made the slightest reference to the enormous air pollution caused by the brick kilns which influential local businessmen have established within the refugee camps. It has failed to realize the health hazard. The Commission should have at least said a word about the supply of drinking water to the remote camp in Batar Bali in Udhampur where the refugees are thirsting for a mug of water from one morning to the next morning. Instead of taking up these serious issues of human beings, the Honorable Commission has sought to travel safe and secure along the political road indicator.

 It is sad that a politically motivated report instead of one squarely based on human rights considerations has emanated from the NHRC of India. But the most unrealistic of all the assertions is the pious wish of the  Honorable Commission that a day in God’s eternal calendar will ultimately dawn when the Pandits will go back to their respective places and live in harmony with their Muslim neighbors who will manage flow of streams of milk and honey for them. Nothing can be more amusing. This clearly shows how superficially  the Honorable Commission has been treating and understanding the entire Kashmir issue. It betrays its lack of vision that demands linking the return of Pandits to national security and the security of India’s northern frontier.

 It shows deliberate attempt of understating the massive Islamization of Kashmir brought about by the so-called secular as well as non-secular forces in Kashmir. This is an unadulterated wish of ransoming the three hundred thousand member of a religious minority to the diktat and arbitration of a majority whose loyalties do not at all synchronize with the ransomed group. Does the Honorable Commission want us to tell the world in plain words that the land of Kashmir may be with the Indians, her people are not’ The Pandits salute the tricolor and sing the national anthem. In Valley the tricolors are set on fire and replaced by green star and crescent and takbir replaces national anthem. This is the scenario into which the Honorable Commission piously desires the Kashmiri Pandits to move into. The Honorable Commission has very subtly tried to circumvent the writing on the wall in Kashmir. That does not mean the Pandits can be blackmailed.

 We politely suggest the Honorable Commission to withdraw its verdict immediately and treat the Kashmir Pandit case on the merits of human rights and not as a matter of political expediency. The Pandits should strongly protest against this politically oriented verdict and should also approach the UNHRC and the Supreme Court against summary dismissal of their case of genocide and internal displacement.

[Courtesy - Kashmir Sentinel]

 

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World Kashmiri Pandit Conference, 1993
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