The constitution and possibility of Panun Kashmir
by Ramesh Manvati on 07 Aug 2016 13 Comments

On the fifth day of first session of the Constituent Assembly, under the chairmanship of Dr. Rajendra Prasad, while moving the aims and objectives of the draft Constitution of India, in New Delhi on 13 December 1946, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, stated:  

“…Laws are made of words but this resolution is something higher than the law. It is not a law; but it is something that breathes life in human minds. It is a declaration. It is a firm resolve. It is a pledge and an undertaking and it is for all of us, I hope, a declaration…”


Kashmiri Pandits continue to be in forced exile since early 1990. The ground realities in the valley, too well known, have deterred them to return to their roots till date. Separatists’ weaponry may have diminished; separatist mindset, now widened, continues to rule the roost. What can be more shameful than the helplessness of a duly elected government in the state issuing an “appeal” to separatists (responsible for the plight of exiled community) to “come up with suggestions” on how to rehabilitate them?


The light at the end of this dark tunnel of exile, spanning nearly 27 years as of now, continues to elude the ethnically cleansed Hindu minority. The displaced community, rendered refugees within their own country, is labeled, sadly, as ‘migrants’. More than a thousand of their brethren, age and sex no bar, have been mercilessly massacred. But none has been held accountable; nor have the perpetrators been brought to justice, till date. 


Such refugees, having been forced to flee their place of origin, either due to terrorism or other considerations (that pose threat to their life and liberty), are universally recognized and treated as “Internally Displaced Persons” (IDPs) based on UN conventions. Exiled Kashmiri Hindus continue to be treated with a different yard stick in their own courtyard.


Those who argue that recognizing exiled Kashmiri Pandits as IDPs and creating a separate Homeland of Panun Kashmir is “not possible” as per the Indian Constitution, must realize that the Constitution is not immutable. The framers of our Constitution were visionary enough to allow provision for amendment. It has already been amended over a hundred times. In fact, it may well be the most frequently amended Constitution in the world.


The removal of Article 370, being a “Temporary” provision of the Constitution, should not be “impossible”, as some believe, for the ruling dispensation at the Centre. The then Chief Minister of J&K sate, late G.M Sadiq, told a group of 15 visiting journalists from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Punjab on the evening of 12 May 1966, “Unless the economic condition of this state improved considerably, people of other states would not be allowed to settle here, buy property or secure employment”.


Economic concerns may have been valid fifty years back. Now, J&K is definitely a better-off state. What prevented /prevents Union Governments (previously the UPA and now the NDA) from removing the temporary provision of Article 370?


Some ask childish questions like what is the “first-step” that “PK-ites” propose to take to achieve ‘Homeland’ as envisioned in Margdarshan resolution of December 1991. The legitimate questions include


(a) Whether the exiled Kashmiri Pandits, facing the seventh exodus now (and reduced to a “reverse minority” from being the earliest inhabitants and majority community of the valley with more than 5000 years of rich and recorded history), deserved what they have gone through – not only in the recent past in independent India, guided by the very ‘Constitution’ that some claim can’t be amended, but over the centuries since the advent of Islam in the valley around the 14th century?


(b) Whether what the exiled community is rightfully and legitimately demanding within the framework of that spirit “of a pledge, an undertaking” given by the worthy prime movers of our Constitution, is just or not?


(c) When many States have been reorganized in the past, why J&K cannot be reorganized, given the deep simmering discontent and diverse nature of its three distinct regions - Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh?


(d) In a country where Sanskrit, the sacred repository of our great heritage and civilization, should have been a mandatory language of national curriculum in schools (at least up to 10th standard, with due respect to the current National language and all regional languages), it is thought okay in our home state to accept Persio-Arabic, a foreign script, even for the valley’s own mother tongue, ‘Koshur’.


Sadly, ‘Koshur’ is not even the official language - which it ought to have been. Similarly, the Sharada script that was in use in the valley till at least the last century, though on a much reduced scale, has virtually gone into oblivion because of the forced imposition of a foreign script and language (like Persian in the 15th century). The willful neglect and apathy of centuries continues to date. Any literary work of Koshur language, even in the popular Devanagari script, has no official recognition in the State. Why?


The United Nations declaration of 18 December 1992, the main guiding principle of the National Commission for Minorities in India, affirms that “States shall protect the existence of the National or Ethnic, Cultural, Religious and Linguistic identity of minorities within their respective territories and encourage conditions for the promotion of that identity”. Has the Indian State not failed to protect such universal Rights of exiled Pandits from Kashmir?


The concept of minority-ism needs to be relooked as rightly suggested (a view upheld by the Supreme Court of India) by Prof. (Dr.) Tahir Mahmud, the then Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities. Muslims in Kashmir enjoy benefits of being a majority in the state, while outside they play the ‘minority’ card to get benefits. Hindus in the state, though in minority, are treated like the normal ‘majority’ of the country.


This gross anomaly was appreciated and accepted by the learned Chairman (and other subsequent Chairmen of NCM as well) when a Panun Kashmir delegation, including this writer, Dr. Agnishekhar and Yuvraj Raina, called on the Commission during Dr. Tahir Mehmud’s tenure (1996-1999). Earlier, Dr. K.L. Chowdhury, well known ideologue of the exiled community, had also written to the NCM on this issue. Subsequently, the Vajpayee government inducted late Shri V.K. Dar (IAS) as a Hindu member of the Commission when Justice Mohd. Shamim took over as chairman of the NCM (2000 - 2003). This was followed with other Commissions as well.


Given the prevailing scenario in the country, calling oneself a proud Hindu has become unacceptable. It appears as if our Constitution is a rule book that is meant to protect only the interests, urges and aspirations of roughly 30 per cent of Indian population (though their legitimate interests must certainly be protected) while undermining the legitimate interests, urges and aspirations of the remaining 70 per cent of the population. In the name of so-called secularism and/or so-called Kashmiriyat (in case of J&K), different yardsticks are applied to different sections of the citizens in this country.


The exiled Kashmiri Hindu community is a living example of this gross and blatant human rights violation perpetrated by those hiding behind such deceitful veils who have been and are responsible for upholding the principles of justice. It has become fashionable for most hypocritical Indians to play the dirty card of negative /one-sided secularism for their own reasons. Certainly none of the “secularists-intellectuals” of the recent “award-wapsi” fame has wielded his/her pen, or protested to condemn the genocide of Kashmiri Hindus. Why have they chosen to look the other way when an entire civilization was being uprooted in Kashmir? For the Muslim community of Kashmir valley, the veil of so-called ‘Kashmiriyat’ is a convenient tool to camouflage the ugly mindset of the people whose only ultimate goal is to accomplish their decades’ old dream of “yahaa’n kyaa challegaa, Nizaami mustafaa!” (What will prevail here: only the writ of Mustafaa, ie., Islamic order), and “assi gatsci pananui Pa’ekistaan,  battav rotsc , battaneov saan!” (We need Pakistan, without Pandit men, but surely with Pandit women).


This is precisely the reason why exiled Kashmiri Hindus continue to be insulted and humiliated by treating them as ‘Migrants’ (as if they are on an outing of their own sweet will), and not as “Internally Displaced Persons”, which the exiled community rightfully deserves to be treated as based on globally accepted UN conventions. Their issue of ethnic cleansing and genocide seems to have become “a thing of the past”. Is that why the perpetrators of such heinous crimes against these IDPs have not been brought to justice till date? And, their right to return to their homeland in Kashmir continues to be denied to them even after being in 27th year of forced exile?


Successive governments may have simply addressed some of the basic needs of the exiled Hindus from Kashmir, but have failed in ensuring the enjoyment of fundamental rights by them as enshrined not only in our own Constitution but in the “UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement” and the “rights drawn from international human rights and humanitarian law”. 


The exiled Kashmiri Pandits need to make concerted efforts to compete in Civil Services. Besides, the community needs to preserve its gene pool and increase its numbers substantially by adopting at least a three-child norm per couple. Nevertheless, the strategic importance of Kashmiri Hindus cannot be undermined because of the limitations of their numbers. The return of the IDPs to their place of origin means return of ‘India’ in Islamized Kashmir. 


A pathway laden with some rough patches does not scare a determined traveller from reaching his goal; neither does the length of the pathway. Being equipped with tools like ‘IDP’, the exiled community can march with added confidence towards Panun Kashmir.


The question is not “How” but “Why Not”.




-        Constituent Assembly of India, Volume I, 

-        “In Forced Exile, since Early Nineteen Ninety; where is the Nation’s Might and Sensitivity?”  (Poem commemorating a quarter of century of KP IDPs) by Ramesh Manvati (Daily State Times, Jammu ; Dated : 19 January 2015;  and, ‘Spade-A-Spade’ issue, February 2015)

-        Our  Constitution (An introduction to India’s Constitution and constitutional law), Dr. Subhash C. Kashyap

-        UNHRC- Protection of Conflict-Induced IDPs : Assessment for Action

-        The Hindu,   May 20, 2016

-        The Hindustan Times,  May 20, 2016

-        The Hindu, May 13, 1966




The writer is a political analyst; his email is   

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