J&K: Jehad, Genocide and the Refugee Crisis
by Shailendra Aima on 22 Jun 2016 7 Comments

The British left India in 1947 and before giving up the control of the subcontinent they gave to the Muslims and Hindus a parity to decide and determine about the very character, form and contours of a Hindu India and a Muslim India, perpetually divided and hostile to each other’s existence.


A Muslim India, called Pakistan, was created to the East and West of a Hindu India. Strangely, this Hindu India has not reconciled to its Hindu identity. For the Hindu India, being Hindu remains a parochial and prejudicial affair and a matter of perpetual inferiority.  This India laments being called a Hindu India. It seeks a composite, secular identity, an identity that would comfortably reconcile the Vedic stotras with the Suras of Quran and Hadith; an identity wherein the endemic existential jehad would seek a war within and between the rights and wrongs of a subliminal human heart. 


Jammu and Kashmir at the time of India’s independence was a Muslim majority Princely State, governed by a Hindu Maharaja. The terms of Partition Plan (called India Independence Act) mandated and authorized the Rulers of States to join either of the dominions - Muslim Pakistan or Hindu India. Considering the then prevailing situation and while facing a tribal invasion from Pakistan, the Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir joined India; a Hindu India that had yet to take a final call about its character, form and contours of its polity.


Between 20 October 1947, when Tribal Raiders marched into Jammu and Kashmir, and March 1948, India had virtually decided to surrender about 1/3rd of the territory of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan, now called Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. In the process, the Indian State also legitimized the grand game of genocide of Hindus at the hands of the Muslim Tribesmen of North Waziristan, who since then have acted as the jehadi arm of the Pakistan army.


The Indian State did go to the UN, but never registered a complaint or even spoke of the killings, maimings, rapes and abductions of 200,000 of its men and women in the occupied territories in Jammu and Kashmir by the invading Pakistani army and its Lashkars. The town of Mirpur alone on 25 November 1947 witnessed killings, rapes and abduction of 25,000+ souls. Prior to that Baramullah, Uri, Muzzafrabad and adjoining areas had been subjected to a similar genocidal attrition by these Pak-backed Lashkars, who had come to ‘liberate’ the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir from a Hindu Prince.


These marauding gangs of killers were hailed in Pakistan as Mujahideen and liberators. Their wanton acts, killings of innocent civilians, rapes and abduction of women and their subsequent auctions in tribal bazaars were never a subject of condemnation in Pakistan. The Indian State too preferred to remain silent on the issue.


In these intervening six months between autumn 1947 and spring 1948, the Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir was cleansed of nearly 700,000 Hindus and Sikhs. About 200,000 were captured, killed and abducted; the rest moved to the Indian side for safety as refugees. Another batch of refugees, around 40,000 souls, arrived in Jammu from adjoining areas of what is now Pakistan. The first set of these refugees of 1947 is called POJK Refugees and the second as West Pakistani Refugees. Today, their collective numbers are anywhere between 12 to 15 lakhs.


These refugees were housed in temporary camps and assured of early return home. Almost seven decades on, the majority of these POJK refugees are still in camps scattered across the districts of Jammu, Kathua, Rajouri, Poonch and Udhampur. These camps consist of cramped one-room units that offer their inhabitants very little protection and security. Sanitation and drainage is almost nonexistent in these camps, which also lack access to basic healthcare services. 


The POJK refugees in the camps have been ghettoized now for three generations. Most schools in localities where children from camps enroll are understaffed and lack adequate infrastructure. Deprived of quality education, youngsters from the camps find it impossible to get employment in a competitive work environment.


The official status of these Refugees is peculiar. Since India considers POJK an integral part of its territory, POJK refugees are not accorded official Refugee Status as the government maintains that only people who migrate from foreign territory can be classified as refugees. In the process, the POJK refugees are deprived of all benefits accorded to refugees under national and international law. There is no compensation for property left behind by them in POJK.


The case of Refugees from West Pakistan is even worse. While living in Jammu & Kashmir, they are not entitled to any citizenship rights in the State. They take part in Parliamentary elections, but can’t elect a representative for State legislature or local bodies; their children can’t seek admissions in professional colleges or colleges of Higher education in the State of J&K; they can’t buy properties in the State or be considered for any State government jobs. They are also not entitled to Bank loan facility. They are virtually a Stateless people.


It is understandable that in 1947 victims moved out from territories run over by invaders and took refuge in Jammu; but that in 1990, persecuted Hindus had to flee from Kashmir, a territory not yet fallen, is bizarre and defies commonsense. And while the earlier two sets of refugees were confronting their pathetic plight as victims of state apathy and as abandoned dredges of 1947, 1990 brought in yet another stream of refugees from the valley of Kashmir into Jammu. Another 3.5 lakh victims of religious cleansing, targeted by those claiming to be the true followers of their creed, arrived in Jammu from Kashmir.


Added to 15 lakh refugees of 1947, the arrival of 3.5 lakh Kashmiri Hindu refugees in Jammu in 1990 further swelled the refugee crisis of Jammu & Kashmir. The State and the Central Governments did their best to deny the phenomenon of this displacement caused by a spurt in jihadi agenda of an ideology seeking separation from India.


This refugee stream was euphemistically named “migration” and the refugees given the name of “Kashmiri Migrants”. It is now 27 years, almost three decades, and the victims of an Islamist jehad in Jammu & Kashmir are “migrants”, birds of a “self-imposed flight.”  


Their plight is no better than that of the previous refugees. Ghettoized now for three decades, they are forced into camps on the outskirts of Jammu. Many with better avenues and by dint of their education and ability have moved out to cosmopolitans and even abroad. Schools in camps where children enroll lack basic infrastructure. There is little in terms of regular water supply and power; and inmates find mobility and access to health care meagre.


But it is not the Jammu province alone which has absorbed an inflow of Refugees since1947; even the Kashmir region has accommodated an influx of refugees from the Xinjiang province of China in 1952 and from Tibet in 1959. These refugees constituting Uyghur Muslims and Tibetan Muslims were not only settled in Idgah area of Srinagar City but were bestowed full citizenship rights by the same State, which has prevaricated on the issue of settling the Hindu refugees from POJK and West Pakistan.


It refuses to accord to Hindus from POJK and West Pakistan any rights and dispense justice in their favour. Any demand to accord them citizenship of the State has been met with stiff resistance from the Kashmiri rulers of the valley, for the past seven decades.


What does this suggest? Why two different yardsticks for Hindu and Muslim refugees? The State Government and its dominant leadership from Kashmir have often referred to the “Special Status of Jammu and Kashmir” to justify the apparent dichotomy and discriminatory policy towards Hindu Refugees and the issue of their rehabilitation.


The Special Status of Jammu & Kashmir is bestowed by virtue of the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which is a Temporary Provision with respect to the State of Jammu and Kashmir and it limits the powers of Indian Parliament to make laws with respect of Jammu and Kashmir State. By virtue of this Special Status, Jammu and Kashmir has its own Constitution to govern its affairs with New Delhi having a very limited jurisdiction.


The State Constitution was adopted by the State’s Constituent Assembly in 1956. Any laws and provisions of the Indian Constitution that have been made applicable to Jammu & Kashmir have been condemned and decried by the political parties of Kashmir. The separatists also find them highly objectionable. This Kashmir-centric political class, which together acts as custodians of an Islamic Jammu and Kashmir, holds the Indian Constitutional Provisions as an assault on Kashmir’s autonomy and cause of Kashmiri’s alienation.


These parties want the Provisions of the Indian Constitution withdrawn from Jammu and Kashmir and the State’s autonomy to be restored. But they have utterly failed to pin-point any malevolent impact of these provisions on the State’s health. In fact, these provisions protect citizens of Jammu and Kashmir against any arbitrary and anti-democratic acts of the State, as the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir does not provide any Fundamental Rights to its “State Subjects”. It is unfortunate that even the national political class represented by the Congress and the BJP has also been seen standing along with this Kashmir-centric Islamic agenda of Autonomy and self-rule.


“Autonomy & Self-Rule”, the defining politics of the Kashmir-centric political parties and demand for “Freedom or Pakistan” by the separatist constituency in Jammu and Kashmir, are primarily a reflection of the Kashmiri Muslims’ intent at the exclusivity of an Islamic State. When Muslim refugees from China and Tibet are quickly absorbed and bestowed citizenship and basic rights, and Hindu Refugees shown ambivalence while decrying their absorption in the State as a demographic assault, it’s again the Jehadist mindset at work, seeking well-being and protection of the Ummah and destruction and deprivation of the “other”.


That the State of Jammu & Kashmir is a Jihadi State is no exaggeration. It follows the Jihadist principles of demographic assault, cultural invasion and squeeze on minorities. Hindus, Sikhs and other minority groups in the State are victims of this Jihadist syndrome. Hence, to expect justice for Hindu Refugees from such a Jehadist State would be in vain.


It is imperative for all these groups of Hindu Refugees of 1947 to 1990 to close ranks and work out a strategy to get justice. It is imperative to understand that they are the victims of an ideological movement that seeks the destruction of the “other”, the “non-believer” and his permanent inferior status. The Hindu Refugees shall have to use all means and instruments which put their case in perspective in an internationally recognized framework. They have to challenge all such euphemisms and policies of the State that have kept them embroiled in a situation of confusion and helplessness for almost seventy years. There is an urgent need to wake up to the reality and call a spade a spade.


The author is an educationist and social activist

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