Kashmiri Pandit return: Homeland only solution
by Mahesh Kaul on 15 Jun 2015 31 Comments
The current drift in Jammu & Kashmir is eroding the national interest and hurting India’s territorial integrity. It is dangerous to claim that national interest calls for co-opting the very forces that have waged war on the nation. The argument that this will change the mindset of these forces and bring them into the national mainstream is flawed. Already this strategy has backfired to the detriment of the political and human rights of non-Muslim minorities in the State.


Today, people have become conscious of their abandonment by the state. In the streets of Jammu they are openly saying that after abandoning the Kashmiri Pandits, the Indian State and its political establishment are silencing all other nationalist constituencies, mainly the nationalist Dogra belt of Jammu region that has vociferously spoken up for the complete integration of Jammu and Kashmir with the Indian nation.

There is dismay that the ruling coalition in which the BJP is an equal partner and bagged all seats from Jammu region, has abandoned its nationalist constituency. The recent Jammu bandh was not only a protest against the shifting of AIIMS to Kashmir and abandoning of the Tawi lake project, but a show of resentment against the hidden agenda to provide space to separatist politics.

Jammu region is seething at the surrender of political space to the jihadi establishment of Kashmir. Jammu region has now become the epicenter of nationalist politics and developments that are shaping the nationalist discourse at the moment. The reason is that Indian nationalists of all hues have been huddled together in Jammu, be it the 1947 POJK refugees, West Pakistan refugees, Kashmiri Pandit refuges of 1990 and the Dogras. Destiny has brought them together to seek the political reorganization of the State of Jammu and Kashmir in a manner that averts a second partition of the nation.

The mandarins in New Delhi have failed to understand that the strategy of Islamic jihad in Kashmir is nuanced. In the first phase they dislodged the only nationalist force (Kashmiri Pandits) by religious cleansing and thus de-Sanskritised Kashmir and changed its demography. The second phase is to subvert the Indian state from within by using its own instruments, such as the legislature.

The appreciation of Pakistan and Hurriyat by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed on the very day of his assuming the office was doubtless shocking, but the path for this was laid when the BJP in order to pave the way for such a union shied away from releasing its election manifesto even though the electoral process was already underway.


Then, it backtracked from the agenda to abrogate Article 370 - an ample signal that BJP was ready for a big ideological compromise at the cost of the nationalist constituency it claimed to represent. Further, it accommodated former separatist Sajjad Lone, author of the document, Achievable Nationhood, as a Minister from its own quota. It squandered the mandate given to it by the people in Jammu region, in which the Kashmiri Pandit electorate played a decisive role.


It was shameful on the part of the BJP’s spin doctors in the state to accuse the Pandit community of not voting for the party in Kashmir, when it well knew that the Kashmiri Pandit electorate is scattered throughout the country (after the ethnic cleansing). Besides, they do not constitute a vote bank as constituencies in Kashmir have been altered to suit the communal politics of one group.

In this dreadful scenario of its own making, the BJP made compromises which even its political adversaries could not have dreamt of. All these acts of political myopia suggest a game being played at the behest of forces that want to unhinge Jammu and Kashmir from India. The Agenda of Alliance, the document that PDP-BJP has devised for the functioning of their government, is a recipe for disaster as every phrase has a hidden meaning that can wreck the sovereignty of India in this frontline Himalayan State.


It seems to be a step beyond the Musharraf formula, moving towards a non-territorial settlement of Jammu and Kashmir and taking it away from India. We remember well how Mufti Sayeed at that time vouched for dual currency and joint control. All those nefarious designs are hidden in the Agenda of Alliance. For example, the consideration for de-notification of the Disturbed Areas Act, if implemented, will automatically pave the way for the revocation of AFSPA which can invite disaster in terms of national security and territorial integrity.

The political dynamics become murkier when the Central Government indulges in floating balloons to appease the PDP and its communal constituency. The worst part is that it chose the religiously cleansed Kashmiri Pandits to be guinea pigs. It is evident from the confusion that has been created over Township politics. The present state government announced the townships and called them composite. It had two objectives: one to give parity to the persecuted and the persecutor in the same way as is being done to give parity to Pakistan with India in Jammu and Kashmir by initiating talks when Pakistan spares no opportunity to violate Indian borders.


It was later denied by the Chief Minister, as even composite word in the Township was not acceptable to the communal majority of Kashmir. Composite word was included to give currency to the unreality that in Kashmir conflict both communities have suffered and as such both need to be rehabilitated; it was made clear that the townships of this composite nature will have equal share for both Kashmiri Pandits and Kashmiri Muslims. It was a ploy to bail out the persecutor in a very astute way but the communal constituency in Kashmir was not ready to accept even this bail-out formula for the genocide they inflicted on Kashmiri Pandits in 1990. The reaction that came from separatist jihadi quarters was a signal to the Chief Minister, who has been perpetuating their agenda in the Legislature, to be more radical in his approach to crystallize the field for the grand design of Muslim precedence in the State.

Waving of Pakistani and Islamic flags has become the order of the day in the valley and the discourse of ‘civil society’ in opinion pieces and articles in Kashmir-based English dailies and vernacular press should sound alarm bells and make policy makers aware of the ground reality that the nationalist space has shrunk.


In such a situation devising ad hoc means to rehabilitate religiously cleansed Pandits is suicidal. When the forces and instruments that inflicted genocide on the community are working with impunity then talking of return and rehabilitation of the community is a myopic policy measure that suits the enemy and the subversives. Day-dreaming of townships, that too ‘composite’, is like icing on the cake for the persecutors as they gain everything as the prey is delivered to them to slay at their pleasure.

It must be understood that the Kashmiri Pandit issue is not a local issue or law and order problem. It is a communal issue and has arisen due to the faultiness of communal politics in Kashmir. The persecutor has devastated and ravaged all symbols and habitations of the community in their natural habitat. How can a community be forced to return to a place where its aesthetics and culture has been erased?


Two things are of paramount importance - one, no return and rehabilitation can be realized as far as the Kashmiri Pandit community is concerned till the causes and reasons of the genocide are addressed and responsibility fixed.

Two, the Kashmiri Pandit community is an internally displaced community. A community that has been forced to live as refugees in their own state and country and as such its members qualify as Internally Displaced persons (IDPs) under International laws. They have not crossed the borders of their country and are not nomads either, so they are not migrants.


The Government of India is duty bound to address their problems as it depicts the failure of the State machinery to safeguard the right to life and limb of its own citizens in their natural habitat. The conventions on crimes against humanity are internationally defined and have become more streamlined after the World War II. The World Refugee Day that is observed every year on June 20 has an added significance this year for Kashmiri Pandits as the State has failed to address the core issues of their genocide and is indulging in trivializing the same to appease those who perpetuated it.

Kashmiri Pandits cannot be rehabilitated unless given constitutional guarantees to protect their culture, social set up, religious freedom, educational and economic rights. The only plan that has all the terms of reference to reverse the religious cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits in totality is the ‘Margdarshan Resolution” passed unanimously by the Community in exile during the intervening night of 27-28 December 1991, which envisages a separate Homeland in Kashmir.


Any other plan is subversion. Kashmiri Pandits have made it abundantly clear through the “Margdarshan Resolution” that only Sanskritisation of Kashmir through Homeland is the return formula acceptable to them for their permanent return and rehabilitation in Kashmir.


The author writes on national security affairs 

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