Panun Kashmir: give Hindus a Union Territory
by M K Teng on 20 Sep 2010 21 Comments

As Kashmiris of various political and religious persuasions prepare to receive the all-party delegation which arrives from New Delhi today, to break the vicious cycle of violence unleashed by separatists and terrorist groups, Panun Kashmir ploughs a lonely furrow, agonizing over the future, if any, of the marginalised Kashmiri Hindu (Pandit) community, that is always factored out of any solutions to the unending barbarity in the state.


Expectations are low. Already we learn, late at night at the time of writing, that while the delegation will be led by home minister P. Chidambaram, the finance minister Pranab Mukherjee is not coming, citing prior engagements. We will know about defence minister A.K. Anthony only when he does arrive. The defence minister has been in the forefront of the demand not to dilute the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), and his absence from the delegation would spread gloom among the besieged minority communities.


Invitations have been sent Hurriyat Conference factions led Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, and JKLF chief Yaseen Malik; the former two have gone into a sulk and declined to meet the delegation, as of now. The ground reality is that all three so-called leaders are nonentities, but the government seems to have no one else in mind to talk to, and so some kind of charade will be played out. Mehbooba Mufti too, has thrown a tantrum and threatened to boycott the all-party delegation over the issue of curfew in the Valley. Perhaps she is upset that Congress is not going to dump Omar Abdullah, at least for the present.

The last time an all-party delegation came to J&K was two decades ago, in 1990, after the genocide-induced exodus of the miniscule Pandit community. That delegation, led by then deputy prime minister Devi Lal, was thoroughly aborted by the games and tantrums of Mr George Fernandes and Mr Rajiv Gandhi, which fact has been amply exposed by the then Governor, Jagmohan, in his seminal work, My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir.


In these sad circumstances, when Kashmiri Hindus – who are the worst victims of sustained discrimination since the accession of the state to India, who faced a brutal genocide while the rest of the nation looked on and fled their homes in the heartless winter of January 1990 to save the honour of their women and the lives of their children, so that there would be a Kashmiri Hindu community in Bharat – find that the quest for a ‘solution’ to the ‘Kashmir problem’ still does not include them, what do we do?


To this day, no political party seeks justice for the beaten and brutalized Kashmiri Hindu. By ignoring our existence, we have been made invisible and voiceless in both the political realm and in the media. The most potent instruments of power and change are out of our hands.


But we exist. And because we are still alive, in various nooks and corners of the country, we owe it to our children, our succeeding generations, and indeed to the entire nation, to persevere in our struggle for justice and an honourable return to our stolen homes and hearths, our civilisational heritage, in the land of our ancestors.


As Panun Kashmir prepares to meet with the all-party delegation from Delhi, we present the core of our demands to the nation and our countrymen:


-        The Union Government is well aware that the objective of the separatist movement is to exclude the state from India and unite it with Pakistan. The call for Azadi is the call for Pakistan. Panun Kashmir has been drawing attention to the real face of Kashmiri Muslim separatism, terrorism, and fundamentalism for the last twenty years.


-        The demand for autonomy is actually a ruse to take the state out of the Indian constitutional framework and convert it into a Muslim state (Nizam-e-Mustafa) or a Muslim sphere of influence. Such a move will take J&K half way to Pakistan.


-        The demand for demilitarisation and abrogation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is a mischief aimed to create an impression at the national and international level that the Indian army in Kashmir is an army of occupation. The truth is that most casualties in the past three months occurred due to firing by J&K armed police and the orders to fire were given by the local magistrates of the state government.


-        Kashmiri Pandits have an equal right to a say in the solution of Kashmir problems. We are the native stakeholders in the state, and any settlement made with (Sunni) Muslims must be accompanied by a settlement with Hindus on the basis of their longstanding demand for a separate Union Territory in that part of Kashmir situated to the east and north of the river Jhelum.


-        This Union Territory will be an integral part of the country, with one flag and one constitution, and NO Article 370.


-        An overall settlement in Jammu & Kashmir must give due recognition to the aspirations and interest of the Hindus of Jammu, Buddhists of Ladakh, and Sikhs of Jammu as well as of Kashmir.


Dear countrymen, as the vicious spiral of violence, killings, bomb blasts, and illegitimate fundamentalist demands upon state and society reach every state and district of the nation, we Kashmiri Hindu brothers and sisters remind you that the Kashmiri Pandits were subjected to genocide in 1990 and driven out of our homes and hearths in the land of our birth, at the point of the gun. Over a thousand Pandits were killed by terrorists chanting Nizam-e-Mustafa, and half a million pushed out of Kashmir, to live in exile from their fabled paradise.


There is only one way in which this genocide can be reversed, and that is to recognise the right of Kashmiri Hindus to a peaceful life of honour and dignity in a homeland which is an integral part of India, where the flow of the Indian constitution is unconditional and unrestricted, and the Tiranga can never be eclipsed by a crescent moon.


[The author is Political Adviser, Panun Kashmir]

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