Return of displaced Hindus to Kashmir the only problem
by Hari Om on 12 Dec 2010 22 Comments

New Delhi has wasted enough of its time in Kashmir and achieved nothing whatsoever. Kashmir continues to simmer and pose a grave challenge to national unity and the very integrity of India. Indeed, the situation has reached a stage where even those constitutionally bound to defend and promote further the nation’s paramount interests in the Valley have started tinkering with and breaking provisions stipulated in the constitution, and defending the seditionists, saying ‘we are a democratic nation and everyone has the right to express his/her opinion even if that lampoons the Indian State,.


Even Union Home Minister P Chidambaram doesn’t mind Kashmiri separatists advocating their seditious views. His only refrain is that they should preach sedition in a “peaceful” manner. His Dec. 9 statement in New Delhi to the Parliamentary Consultative Committee for Home – that the contours of a political solution to the Kashmir problem may emerge in the next few months – has set off alarm bells in large parts of the state of Jammu & Kashmir. News reports suggest the minister is open to the dangerous suggestion to amend the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). He has also waffled on the issue of dealing with ‘the violence witnessed during protests by residents of the state’ which he claimed ‘requires deft and sensitive handling’.


The situation has thus climaxed to the point where it has become extremely difficult to distinguish between the seditionists/fanatics and the men at the helm.


The startling reason is that both are advancing almost identical arguments and questioning the very presence of New Delhi in the Valley.


It is hardly necessary to differentiate here between those demanding complete independence, and those who fall a step short of it. Suffice it to say that the ultimate objective is the same: another communal partition of India. Suffice it to say that there is no fundamental difference between those who describe Jammu & Kashmir as a “disputed” territory and those who say on the floor of the assembly that the “state has only acceded and not merged with India.”


Why has New Delhi failed in Kashmir? It has failed because it has all along recognized and patronized the wrong persons and ignored and despised the nationalist constituency in the Valley. It has at no point of time during all these 63 years of the state’s accession tried to diagnose what ails Kashmir and the Kashmir’s polity. The need of the hour in October 1947 was to sideline the seditionists and communalists, but Delhi acted otherwise. It put all its eggs in the basket of the seditionists and communalists.


Thereafter, it never looked back; it never introspected; it never took into consideration the grave evils that followed. The situation remains the same even today even after grave provocation. No action against the seditionists and unstinted support and full freedom to persons at the helm in the state to undermine Indian sovereignty, jeopardize national unity, and undermine the territorial integrity of India, is the hallmark of New Delhi’s policy towards Kashmir.


What is happening these days? New Delhi is sending lawmakers to Kashmir to talk to those responsible for all Indian troubles in Kashmir. It appears New Delhi wants them to don the mantle of knights. New Delhi is also not preventing Delhi-based foreign diplomats from going to Kashmir to talk to seditionists and their supporters in and outside the establishment. No wonder then that the emboldened and glorified seditionists are issuing more and more provocative and convoluted statements. Certain “civil society” activists, whose credentials are highly doubtful and who are masquerading as representatives of Indian civil society, are visiting Kashmir at regular intervals and holding debates on Kashmir outside the Valley. They are not only issuing insidious and provocative statements, but are also glorifying the Kashmiri separatists and their savagery. As a matter of fact, they are instigating the people of Kashmir against the government and the Indian State.


As for New Delhi, it has given them a free run of time and the result is that they are openly stoking the fire of hatred and creating schisms in society. New Delhi is simply ducking issues that need to be dealt with resolutely and with amoebic rapidity. New Delhi appears to be in a state of dilemma, unclear and ambivalent about the way ahead. 


Enough is enough. New Delhi cannot go on like this any longer. It has to deal with the situation as it prevails in Kashmir. It has to abandon the policy that recognizes only those who are absolutely disloyal, and are ‘green’ in tooth and claw.   


What exactly ails Kashmir? Who deserves New Delhi’s attention? Who needs to be conciliated and won over? Who are the actual sufferers? Whose human rights have been violated in Kashmir? The worst form of communalism and fanaticism ails Kashmir. An intolerant and regressive ideology has been reigning supreme in the Valley since 1947. Ever since then, Kashmir has been witnessing a hate-campaign against the ‘non-believers’ (read non-Muslims); ever since then, Kashmir has been witnessing the process of religious cleansing; ever since then, the Valley has been witnessing persecution of minorities. In fact, the fanatics in Kashmir have already accomplished what they wanted to accomplish - to convert Kashmir into an hundred per cent a non-non-believer region (in other words, a paradise of the believers).


Fanatics in Kashmir wanted the minorities to quit the Valley and they achieved their objective with utmost callousness. They purged Kashmir of all non-Muslim minorities. The process started in 1947 itself. New Delhi should have intervened then and nipped the evil in the bud, but it failed abysmally and instead sided with the seditionists and fanatics who dubbed the minorities as fifth columnists or Indian agents. The result was the emergence of a situation that made the minorities quit their homes and hearths.


The process of religious cleansing reached its zenith in early 1990, when all barring a handful of members of the minority communities, including Kashmiri Hindus and Jammu Dogras, vacated the Valley. Since then, the displaced minorities have been languishing in refugee camps in Jammu and elsewhere in the country. They want to go back to their land of Vitasta (Jhelum), but so far their efforts have borne no fruit. They have failed because New Delhi has abandoned them in its desperate bid to keep the fanatics in Kashmir in good humour. The displaced are no factor in New Delhi’s scheme of things. So the minorities continue to suffer untold miseries in their own motherland, notwithstanding the fact that their watchword and battle cry was, and continues to be, India.


These are the people who need to be looked after and conciliated. These are the people who need special attention and special treatment because their human rights have been violated ruthlessly; because they have been deprived of their right to live in Kashmir; because they have been suffering not only politically but also psychologically; because their very identity and personality is under grave threat; because most of them have been living in an environment that adversely impacts privacy; because their religious sentiments stand outraged as a result of official patronage to those who vandalize their religious symbols and desecrate their temples and shrines in Kashmir; and because the fertility rate among them has sharply declined and mortality rate considerably enhanced.


It is disgusting that New Delhi and the so-called human rights activists, conflict-managers and think-tanks care only for those fleecing and bleeding the Indian nation and dismiss the persecuted minorities as no factor in the Kashmir’s situation. They talk about the “alienation” of those ruling the state, exploiting Jammu and Ladakh, and those responsible for the forced exodus of the minorities from Kashmir. Their heart bleeds only for the persecutors and not for the persecuted; their heart bleeds for the merchants of death and destruction and not for those who have been suffering for their commitment to the Indian nation, Indian sovereignty, Indian culture and Indian civilization. Their heart bleeds for those in Kashmir who have vitiated the whole atmosphere and given a particular type of religious orientation to the polity in the state and not for those who want to return to Kashmir to defend the national cause in fundamentalist, regressive and intolerant Kashmir.


Here lies the basic problem. New Delhi needs to revise its Kashmir policy based on the realities as they exist in Kashmir, and one of the realities is that the problem in Kashmir is fundamentally communal. The bottom-line of the seditionists and fanatics in Kashmir is secession. This needs to be tackled forthwith using all means.


The other problem is that of the rehabilitation of the displaced minorities in Kashmir. The displaced minorities want the right to live in Kashmir and this right has to be conceded. They are the original inhabitants of Kashmir. They represent the 5000-year-old Indian civilization. New Delhi must see to it that they are not only returned to Kashmir, but enjoy all the civil, political, social and economic rights that are available to all other Indians under the Indian Constitution.


New Delhi must remember that the fight in Kashmir is between those who stand for Indian nationhood and those opposed to it. The displaced minorities belong to the first category and hence need to be protected, rehabilitated, empowered and patronized. In fact, they need to be given a dispensation of their choice.                    


The author is former Chair Professor, Maharaja Gulab Singh Chair, University of Jammu, Jammu, & former member Indian Council of Historical Research 

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