The Bold Voice of J&K

Gruesome killing of a Kashmiri Pandit-KPs have to fight back


Er P L Khushu

In another brazen act of despondency and cruelty, terrorists’ again gunned down a Kashmiri Pandit in Pulwama. In the latest targeted killing in the Kashmir valley, suspected terrorists shot a 42-year-old bank guard in the Achan area of Pulwama in Kashmir a few days back leaving the lone Kashmiri Pandit family in the village in mourning. Family members of the victim, Sanjay Sharma, expressed that he was shot less than a hundred meters away from his home while on the way to buy medicines from the local market with his wife. While his wife escaped unhurt, Sanjay was critically injured in the attack and died as he was being rushed to hospital. Authorities, in power, are unable to stop it and save Kashmiri Pandits, when their extinction through gruesome killings by the terrorists in Kashmir has now become a matter of routine. These terrorists are killed next day, through military operations in big encounters as per government reports, but cannot be killed or eliminated days before their operations of killing the Kashmiri Pandits. What a paradox. Here arises a synonym that KPs will have now to act on their own and unite to fight it back for their respectful survival.
As Kashmiri Pandits, we are all almost on cross roads since 1989-90, when on 19th January 1990 the heaven’s wrath from the skies fell upon all of us and we all faced the genocidal atrocities by the Islamic terrorists with their brutal guns. We were made to flee almost naked and bare footed form our homeland the Kashmir, leaving everything behind to save ourselves and our honor, particularly those of our female folks. It was the consequential result of a deep conspiracy hatched across the border in Pakistan by the brute Islamic fundamentalists of Kashmir, who wanted Kashmir to be an Islamic state, on the analogy of religion, when their aim and objective was to achieve it through Islamic Jihad, through gun and terror. The only fault of KPs is that they held themselves as Indians in Kashmir when the other majority community of Kashmir including their political leaders would always never recognize themselves as Indians and would pat the presence of their minds between India and Pakistan. They were always smart enough to extract pecuniary benefits both from India and Pakistan, in one way or the other, which were allegedly mostly under the carpet from Pakistan. KPs of all hues and cries have not been able to fight it out all these 33 years with one voice, seeking remedial measures from the authorities concerned for their share of existence as the aboriginals of Kashmir and equally as the proud citizen’s of India who held the Indian flag in Kashmir till their planned displacement from Kashmir. How long and where do KPs go from here and why? It is now almost the complete extinction of this miniscule community. After passing a protracted turmoil of almost more than three decades, the displaced Kashmiri Pandits are presently facing a piquant situation like ‘out of the frying pan into the fire’ for them. Kashmir Fight blog, the mouthpiece of The Resistance Front (TRF), Pakistan’s new terror outfit, established in Kashmir and an offshoot of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group, has issued threats and released a ‘hit-list’ with the names of 57 Kashmiri Pandits, who are working as government employees, under the Prime Minister’s Rehabilitation Package in the Kashmir Valley. In an open letter, the Islamic terror organization pledged to continue targeting Kashmir’s Hindus. They ranted about how the non-locals and Kashmiri Hindus were stealing employment and land from Kashmir. The terror group further stated that Delhi is imposing a ‘fascist’ Hindutva ideology on Kashmir and Kashmiries, which they will not tolerate. TRF also vowed to continue attacking Hindus who are ‘maligning the atmosphere of the valley.’ “We once again want to warn such elements not to become pawns of Delhi Regime and don’t become the carriers of their filthy and fascist agenda,” reads threat letter.
Where is ‘Hindutva’ about us? Do we not belong to the big race of the Hindus of this great ‘Bharat’. It is now very much unfortunate for us to seek refuge under this cover of Hinduism as the enormous and enough drum beating of the secular credentials of the nations commitment to the Constitution has failed to protect us from our extinction from the mini map of Kashmir and the bigger map of our great India. We are shrinking in numbers. It is a million dollar question. It has to be replied by the present government and lip sympathies will hardly work in this regard. After all Kashmir is a part of our blood and flesh, why to refuse it to us. The dark night of January 19, 1990, shivering with cold, is remembered by all of them, as it was the worst nightmare for the Kashmiri Pandits living in the valley. Screaming from loud speakers and crowded streets was a message for KPs living in Kashmir, which said, Ralive, Tsaliv , Neti- Galiv. (It meant that either convert to Islam or leave Kashmir and in the alternative face death). Even after about 31 years, Kashmiri Pandits shiver remembering the night which forced them into exodus and a life of exile within their own country. Jehadi cum communal speeches from mosques were put on loud speakers meant for ‘Azan & Nimaz’, which would say ‘Yeti- Bani Pakistan, Bhatov Bhegeer the Bhatenen-San, meaning that Kashmir will become a Pakistan without male Kashmiri Pandits, but including womenfolk of Kashmiri Pandits.
Why was not it got investigated by an impartial legal forum, by various governments from 1989 till date. Where lays the roadblock? Yes, the biggest road block is that KPs are not vote bank mulching cows, as they are scattered and are very little in number as compared to the majority Muslim population of Kashmir. No political party including the so-called liberal ‘Hinduvita’ party BJP, wants to antagonize the majority population of Muslims both in Kashmir and the other Muslims in India.
Without commenting on this judgment of the Supreme Court of India, does it mean that the law of the land through the prevalent legal jurisprudence system in India has refused the Kashmiri Pandits, ‘the sons of the soil’, a final hope for a probe in to the genocide of KPs in 1989-90, which was perpetrated at the hands of the Islamic terrorists, when they deserved it. With the dismissal of the curative petition filed by the NGO “Roots in Kashmir”, which made an attempt to get the perpetrators of terror to be brought to book, responsible for the mass genocide of the Kashmiri Pandits, the hopes of the displaced KPs, who are the victims of the worst kind of genocide in their own home land have been shattered, to get settled back in their lost homes and hearths in Kashmir. Tall slogans and claims of normalcy is a virtual dream to fulfill the false egos of government for public consumption when the situation on ground is different.
Let the government act and save the innocent KPs as pigeons before cats. It is a situation like “Out of the Frying Pan into the Fire”, for the Kashmiri Pandits now. Who comes to their rescue is a million dollar question. This question shall have now to be replied by the KPs themselves. That is struggle ‘Sangarsh’ against this tyranny against them. It is a welcome step that All India Kashmiri Samaj ( AIKS) has very recently ventured to take cogent steps in this regard. All India Kashmiri Samaj (AIKS) held its two day All India affiliate meet at newly constructed Kashmir Bhawan, Kashir Sabha, Ambala. The meet was attended by most of its affiliates from across India, with messages pouring in from its overseas affiliates like KOA, US and IEKF, UK. During the meet AIKS Ambala Declaration 2023 making a demand for a legitimate minority space for Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir including acknowledging them as a minority and formation of a Minority Commission to look into their grievances and find solutions was adopted.
A brief account of the holocaust committed against Kashmiri Pandit community on the intervening night of 19th and 20th January, 1990 was given in this meeting by recounting the atrocities committed against the hapless Kashmiri Pandit minority.
The holocaust of 1990 against the Kashmiri Pandits was declared as a war against them, which ultimately led to the exodus of the entire community lock, stock and barrel. It was made known in this meeting that the political class and the administration remained mute and tongue tied, when the naked dance of death and destruction of KPs, took an upper hand of the situation. It was further made known that cruelty and inhumanity has become now norm in the Valley. It is praiseworthy to note that AIKS affiliated Units across the country and abroad participated. The broader parameters of Aiks Ambala Declaration-2023 are briefly mentioned as under:-

  1. Legitimate Minority Space for KPs in Kashmir: By Minority Space it is meant that as aborigines Kashmiri Pandits constitute a factorial importance in the socio-cultural construct of Kashmir with an uninterrupted continuity with its rich heritage and more than 5000 years of past civilization. It is not only an attempt to fill the void but also to contest the domination of a particular faith in the socio/ political life of the State. Its main features therefore include:
    Recognition of KPs as a Minority: There is a big dichotomy in Kashmir. Muslim majority is being linked with the mainstream Muslim minority of India thereby enjoying the fruits of both as minority and as majority. The abject KP minority is being linked with the main stream Hindu majority of the Country thereby depriving them of their legitimate space in Kashmir. Under normal circumstances Kashmiri Pandits would never ask for a minority status, reservation or political crumbs as the community has always believed in moving forward on the basis of merit and individual excellence, which is almost a passion with them. Yet today there is an emergency, the threat of extinction is looming large over the beleaguered community and the nation has to come to its rescue todeclare the tyrannized KPs as a minority in order to reconstruct its social life with dignified identity. KPs will as Minorities become entitled a share in Centre’s 15- Point Programme in which funds are earmarked for their welfare and scholarships It may be pertinent to mention here that Supreme Court has in number of cases stressed for a legislative intervention making it mandatory for states to undertake minority enumeration. Constitution of Minority Commission: Every democratic set up has a constitutional obligation to have in place a protection mechanism for safeguarding the interests of religious and ethnic minorities against the predating machinations of brute religious or ethnic majority. Government must set up a Minority Commission which we can approach in the event we feel our freedoms and liberties guaranteed by the constitution are trampled upo or violated by the forces inimical to our existence.
    Creation of A Conducive Minority Environment: In the Kashmir context, the rise of majoritarianism as an intimidating force which has jeopardized the socio-political- cultural and economic rights of KPs, it is incumbent upon the civil society and its institutions to take a position on its KP minority. While dealing with the situation like this, certain factors need focused approach like: Prevention of civil society spaces from encroachment by Jehadi Ideology to avert the catastrophic changes in the socio-cultural landscape. Preservation of its Multicultural Character and ethos. Prevention of anti-KP atrocities by contesting such forces and holding them accountable for Violent Attacks.
    Three smart townships: AIKS demands three smart townships at district headquarters of Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramulla. The time has come when all KP organizations should wrap up all hypothetical formulae and focus on pragmatic and most justifiable option of satellite cities (three cities) for the entire community of Internally displaced persons with adequate security. These Cities should be self-sufficient in terms of overall infrastructure, economic avenues, adequate land, decent accommodation, educational institutions, medical care, recreation centers, commercial infrastructure etc.
    Healing Touch Policy: Residual Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir: There is a renewed threat and target attacks on KPs who chose to stay in Kashmir even after ignominious exodus of 1990 and have lost many of its members since 2020 hybrid terrorism has reared its ugly head in the valley.
    They live in constant fear of reprisal attacks and their fragile sense of security is further fuelled by recent daring acts of target killings of even non Kashmiri Hindu community, which had touched off almost another wave of exodus among these left over KPs. There is a need for sufficient confidence building measures to instill a sense of confidence and security among them, we consider as our ambassadors in the valley. The CBMs should come by way of government taking cognizance of their day to day survival issues and providing them the succor they need which should work as an incentive for them to stay back in the Valley with dignity. Their wellbeing with a sense of dignity is integral to the restitution of the community in its entirety in Kashmir.
    PM Package Employees: The PM package KP employees on protest for almost eight months fighting for their just demands and official apathy towards their genuine threat perception in the wake of heightened target killings of their colleagues in the valley has hugely disappointed and dismayed the exiled community. AIKS therefore demands: Creation of safe ecosystem and better working conditions. Provision of secure official accommodation to the employees opting for jobs in Kashmir, proper transfer policy consistent with employment rules and regulations, repeal of SRO-412 from the package, risk allowance consistent with central government employees etc.
    These are the main broader demands enlisted and projected in the Ambala Declaration-2023, which appears as a historic document for the amelioration of the present sad and a disturbed situation of KPs scattered all over the world. KPs need to come now under one umbrella in regard to their rehabilitation and resettlements after facing genocide and forced displacement from their original homes and hearths viz, Kashmir. Ambala Declaration should become the minimum milestone for the KPs to have its declarations achieved from the government of the day. Let us all show our immediate response to this declaration to support it lock stock and barrel. KPs may have now to come on streets too if the demands as stipulated in this Ambala Declaration are not fulfilled, to save our community from extinction.
    (This author is a chartered Consultant Civil Engineer, passionately attached
    and devoted to his Motherland
    -Jammu & Kashmir).
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