Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India


Lalla-Ded Educational and Welfare Trust

  Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India

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April-May 2003 issue

Maa Sharika Temple, Hari Parvat, Village Anangpur, Faridabad.

Table of Contents

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri


Kashmir Imbroglio

 … Balbir K. Punj

The Secular Conspiracy

     The formation of Pakistan was a “momentous” episode in the history of the sub-continent, though executed in a faulty manner. But we neither fully comprehended the forces behind this epoch nor raised the ideological and political bulwark needed to counter its long-time consequences.

     Two recent events of unequal magnitude enforced in mind this problem, we refused to fix in 1947. One was Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s call from Srinagar for bilateral dialogue with Pakistan. And the other was the formal release  of a book by Deputy Prime Minister L.K.Advani. Titled Religious Demography of India, it was brought out by the Centre for Political Studies, Chennai.

     Making his recent visit to Srinagar an occasion, the Prime Minister extended olive branch to Pakistan. The gesture has seemingly gone down well with both Islamabad and the NDA including the BJP. If there is anything against us, it is the past involving the two countries. Such talks, so far, have ended in failure, exacerbating the situation. India has been stabbed in the back by Pakistan whenever it has taken well meaning measures like Prime Minister Vajpayee’s Lahore bus ride in 1999 and the 2001 ceasefire. But, we must be optimistic.

     Though the issues are intertwined, the solution to the Kashmir peoblem is no lnger a priority as is the “peace in the Valley”. Today, the government’s priority is to put an end to the cross LoC terrorism and the Pakistan sponsored proxy war with a heavy hand and disseminate the fruits of development in the Valley.

     India won a military victory against Pakistan at Dhaka in 1971, but could not capitalise on that advantage to bring an end to the Kashmir problem. That was the only occasion when Kashmir was really a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. At that time Pakistan, handicapped by a US arms embargo (for genocide by the Pakistan Army in Bangladesh), faced the real threat of not only losing Kashmir but also disintegrating into several splinter states like Sindh, Balochistan and Pakhtunkhwa. The mock chivalry of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s speeches in those days only highlighted how real his fear was.

     But which Kashmir do we refer to when we speak of Kashmiri peace? The total area of J&K is 2,222,236 sq. kms, out of which 78,114 sq. kms are illegally occupied by Pakistan and 42,685 sq. kms by China, of which Pakistan illegally handed over 5,130 sq. kms to China. However, for all practical purposes we have given our hopes of reclaiming that territory from Pakistan and China. The Indian government or the media never raises this issue of the independence movement in Balwaristan (in PoK), thinking, it would irk Islamabad further.

     All that we are fighting for, rather defending is the Kashmir we still retain. After thousands of their fellow men and women were killed, the 300,000 Kashmiri Pandits expelled from the Valley are leading a sub-human life in the refugee camps at Jammu and Delhi. Their properties have been legally undersold or illegally occupied in a manner similar to Bangladesh’s Enemy Property. The well planned Nadimarg (Pulwama) massacre of March 23, is prompting the exodus of the residual Hindus from the Valley. The local Muslim populace has declined to guarantee their safety. The message is quite clear: "Sir, kindly leave and leave every square inch of your land-space for the cause of Dar-ul-Islam".

     But when we talk of “Kashmir peace” or “Kashmir solution” we do not take into consideration the Kashmiri Pandits. With their ancestral properties gone, their return and rehabilitation is quite unlikely. The exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits is  not only a human tragedy but also a civilisational holocaust. They were the original and culturally unalloyed inheritors of Kashmir. If the Muslims could be a part of the “Kashmiriyat” of the Hindus - which is as old as the land itself - why could the Hindus not be a part of the “Kashmiriyat” of the Muslims? Can one think of Hindus expelling Muslims from a place where the latter are a minority? Then, there would not have been any Muslim left in India. Article 370 was meant to “protect the uniqueness of the state”. This Article has been protected at every cost and pretext but the true inheritors of Kashmir are languishing unprotected in the refugee camps of Jammu and Delhi. What an irony!

     Since ancient times, Kashmir has been the centre of Shaiva tradition and famed seat of Vedic learning. It is for this reason alone that the Kashmiri Hindus are referred to as Pandits (or scholars). Thus the Kashmiri Pandits are the originally unalloyed people of the land. Their exit thus marks the loss of Kashmir’s soul. Moreover, it also raises the question that if Hindus are not safe as community even in India, where else will they be? The Muslims of Kashmir are the descendants of those Kashmiri Pandits who converted to Islam mostly under the threat of sword or in the hope of gaining some favour during the Muslim era. Sheikh Abdullah admits in his autobiography, Atish-e-Chinar (Fire amongst Chinar), that his great-grand father was a Kashmiri Pandit, Bal Mukund Kaul. But this great-grandson of a converted Kashmiri Pandit refused to identify himself as an Indian. He always referred to himself only as a Kashmiri. In league with another Kaul viz. Nehru, who was ashamed of his Hindu identity, he turned Kashmir into his personal fiefdom.

     But are we also not a part to this tragedy? Jagmohan pithily observes in his highy acclaimed book 'My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir'. “We denounced the Two-Nation theory, proclaimed to the world that in India religion did not constitute the basis of separation or distinction. Ironically, it is we who are applying the Two-Nation theory in Kashmir. And we are doing it in the most suicidal manner. Pakistan, which owes its birth to the Two-Nation theory, exists, after all, with its own resources. But here in Kashmir, Article 370 and the issue of autonomy are designed to be manipulated in such a way that a virtual Sheikhdom or Sultanate, or mini-Pakistan, has been nurtured with the Indian money. Unfortunately, we have neither the inclination nor the depth perception to see through the game.”

     But where are the imperceptible roots of this palpable tragedy? Braving the secession of East Pakistan, Zulfikar Bhutto said in 1971, “Pakistan is an ideal. It will last even if it is physically destroyed. We are prepared for the decimation of 120 million people. We will then begin with a new and build a new Pakistan”. Thus he comes very close to saying that Pakistan exists first in people’s mind, then as a political unit. The concretisation of the political vision of Paksitan took place in the Thirtees and the Forties. But tragedy has its roots in the negation of Indianism. Not even one percent of Indian Muslims came from outside India, say Arabia or Central Asia, but are converts from Hinduism and Buddhism, mostly under duress. But on conversion their mindset became chain reaction of the  Arab imperialism. That is the reason why several thousand Indian Muslims quitting British India (a Dar-ul-harab or land of the enemy) had chosen to migrate (hijrat) to Dar-ul-Islam Afghanistan, out which only 20,000 were allowed to settle. A large number of Shias from Lucknow, including the descendants of the Nawab of Awadh, chose to migrate to Karbala (now Iraq). At the root of this is the denial of a pre-Islamic identity.

     The second event was the formal release by Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani on April 20, of a highly statistical book 'Religious Demography of India'. It is a mammoth study of the census available for 110 years (1881-1991) of the sub-continent by A.P.Joshi, M.D.Srinivas and J. K. Bajaj for the Centre for Policy Studies, Chennai. Advani, however, did not agree with the author’s categorisation of religions as Indian religions and others (like Christianity, Islam) and said that the Indian nationhood had suffered no devalorisation due to the 'unfortunate' Partition.

     Generally we treat Partition as unfortunate. But let’s see how 'fortunate' Hindus would have ended up if there were no Partition in 1947. The study observes : “The proportion of Indian religionists in the population of India (Indian sub-continent) has declined by 11 percentage points during the period of 110 years for which census information is available. Indian religionists formed 79.32 percent of the population in 1881 and 68.03 percent in 1991. This is an extra-ordinary high decline to take place in just about a century; at the peak of the Mughal rule at the time of Akbar, after nearly 400 years of Islamic domination, number of Muslims in India was said to be no more than one sixth the population. If the trend to decline seen during 1881-1991 continues, then the proportion of Indian religionists in India is likely to fall below 50 percent, early in the later half of the 21st century.” So, is the fear misplaced that if there were no partition India would have become a Lebanon for Hindus? India remains secular and pluralistic because the decisive majority comprises Hindus.

     So, partition in a way stayed off the Islamisation of India. But how does one cope with the large scale infiltration of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants into West Bengal and Assam, people who could turn these provinces to “Greater Bangladesh”? The deputy PM has rightly called for the repealing of the IMDT Act, which in effect is a 'secular' conspiracy to dismember and Islamise India in parts, progressively. And notably, in an Islamic state, secularism or communism will also have no place. A typical example of this are the communists who actively worked towards the formation of Pakistan in the forties, provided Jinnah all the intellectual arsenal he ever needed, but were themselves cleansed from the Islamic state which was contemptuous of an impure object. 

* Balbir K. Punj is a Rajya Sabha MP.  This article is reproduced from Free Pressd Journal.             






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