Monday, April 30, 2018

19/01/90: When Kashmiri Pandits fled Islamic terror - Kanchan Gupta

Srinagar, January 4, 1990. Aftab, a local Urdu newspaper, publishes a press release issued by Hizb-ul Mujahideen, set up by the Jamaat-e-Islami in 1989 to wage jihad for Jammu and Kashmir's secession from India and accession to Pakistan, asking all Hindus to pack up and leave. Another local paper, Al Safa, repeats this expulsion order.

In the following days, there is near chaos in the Kashmir valley with Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and his National Conference government abdicating all responsibilities of the State. Masked men run amok, waving Kalashnikovs, shooting to kill and shouting anti-India slogans.

Reports of killing of Hindus, invariably Kashmiri Pandits, begin to trickle in; there are explosions; inflammatory speeches are made from the pulpits of mosques, using public address systems meant for calling the faithful to prayers. A terrifying fear psychosis begins to take grip of Kashmiri Pandits.

Walls are plastered with posters and handbills, summarily ordering all Kashmiris to strictly follow the Islamic dress code, prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks and imposing a ban on video parlours and cinemas. The masked men with Kalashnikovs force people to re-set their watches and clocks to Pakistan Standard Time.

Shops, business establishments and homes of Kashmiri Pandits, the original inhabitants of the Kashmir valley with a recorded cultural and civilisational history dating back 5,000 years, are marked out. Notices are pasted on doors of Pandit houses, peremptorily asking the occupants to leave Kashmir within 24 hours or face death and worse. Some are more lucid: "Be one with us, run, or die!"

* * *

Srinagar, January 19, 1990. Jagmohan arrives to take charge as governor of Jammu and Kashmir. Farooq Abdullah, whose pathetic, whimpering, snivelling government has all but ceased to exist and has gone into hiding, resigns and goes into a sulk. Curfew is imposed as a first measure to restore some semblance of law and order. But it fails to have a deterrent effect.

Throughout the day, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front and Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists use public address systems at mosques to exhort people to defy curfew and take to the streets. Masked men, firing from their Kalashnikovs, march up and down, terrorising cowering Pandits who, by then, have locked themselves in their homes.

As evening falls, the exhortations become louder and shriller. Three taped slogans are repeatedly played the whole night from mosques: 'Kashmir mei agar rehna hai, Allah-O-Akbar kehna hai' (If you want to stay in Kashmir, you have to say Allah-O-Akbar); 'Yahan kya chalega, Nizam-e-Mustafa' (What do we want here? Rule of Shariah); 'Asi gachchi Pakistan, Batao roas te Batanev san' (We want Pakistan along with Hindu women but without their men).

In the preceding months, 300 Hindu men and women, nearly all of them Kashmiri Pandits, had been slaughtered ever since the brutal murder of Pandit Tika Lal Taploo, noted lawyer and BJP national executive member, by the JKLF in Srinagar on September 14, 1989. Soon after that, Justice N K Ganju of the Srinagar high court was shot dead. Pandit Sarwanand Premi, 80-year-old poet, and his son were kidnapped, tortured, their eyes gouged out, and hanged to death. A Kashmiri Pandit nurse working at the Soura Medical College Hospital in Srinagar was gang-raped and then beaten to death. Another woman was abducted, raped and sliced into bits and pieces at a sawmill.

In villages and towns across the Kashmir valley, terrorist hit lists have been floating about. All the names are of Kashmiri Pandits. With no government worth its name, the administration having collapsed and disappeared, the police nowhere to be seen, despondency sets in. As the night of January 19, 1990, wears itself out, despondency gives way to desperation.

And tens of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits across the valley take a painful decision: to flee their homeland to save their lives from rabid jihadis. Thus takes place a 20th century Exodus.

* * *

Srinagar, January 19, 2005. There are no Kashmiri Pandits in Srinagar, or, for that matter, anywhere else in the Kashmir valley; they don't live here anymore. You can find them in squalid refugee camps in Jammu and Delhi. As many as 300,000 Kashmiri Pandits have fled their home and hearth and been reduced to living the lives of refugees in their own country.

Two-thirds of them are camping in Jammu. The rest are in Delhi and in other Indian cities. Many of them, once prosperous and proud of their rich heritage, now live in grovelling poverty, dependent on government dole and charity. In these 15 years, an entire generation of exiled Kashmiri Pandits has grown up, without seeing the land from where their parents fled to escape the brutalities of Islamic terrorism, a land they dare not return to, although that land still remains a part of their country.

A large number of them are suffering from a variety of stress and depression related diseases. A group of doctors who surveyed the mental and physical health of the Kashmiri Pandits living in refugee camps, found high incidence of 'economic distress, stress induced diabetes, partial lunacy, hypertension and mental retardation.' Statistics reflect high death rate and low birth rate among the Kashmiri Pandit refugees.

And thereby hangs a tragic tale that has been all but wiped out from public memory.

An entire people have been uprooted from the land of their ancestors and left to fend for themselves as a weak-kneed Indian state shamelessly panders to Islamic terrorists and separatists who claim they are the final arbiters of Jammu and Kashmir's destiny. A part of India's cultural heritage has been destroyed; a chapter of India's civilisational history has been erased.

Had this tragedy occurred elsewhere in Hindu majority India, and had the victims been Muslims, we would have described it as 'ethnic cleansing' and 'genocide.' We would have made films with horror-inducing titles. We would have filed cases in the Supreme Court of India. Our media would have marshalled remarkable rage in reporting the smallest detail.

But, this tragedy has occurred in Muslim majority Kashmir valley, and the victims are all Hindus, that too Pandits. What has been lost is part of India's Hindu culture, what has been erased is integral to India's Hindu civilisation.

Therefore, the government makes bold to record that the Kashmiri Pandits have "migrated on their own" and their 'displacement (is) self-imposed;' the National Human Rights Commission, after a perfunctory inquiry, refuses to concede that what has happened is 'genocide' or 'ethnic cleansing,' though facts add up to no less than that, never mind that 300,000 lives have been destroyed.

And, our jhola-wallah brigade of secular activists rudely turn up their noses to the plight of Kashmiri Pandits: Hindu sorrow, inflicted by Islamic terror, stinks.

Today, on January 19, the 15th anniversary of the forced flight of Kashmiri Pandits, look back at India's wretched history of secular politics and consider the terrible price the nation has paid at the altar of appeasement because the Indian State has, and continues to, toe the line of least resistance.

Reflect. Resolve. React.

https://m.rediff.com/news/2005/jan/19kanch.htm

Sunday, April 8, 2018

This is the view of seasoned journalist and veteran Kashmir-watcher---- Ghulam Mohammad Sofi, The Editor Srinagar Times


Q: As per a survey by Kashmir Images, a weekly published in Kashmir, 68 per cent Muslims believe that Pandits betrayed them in their hour of distress. Do you agree?

Sofi: No, I am not in agreement at all. The Kashmiri Pandits were not in a position to help in any way. They were compelled to leave their homes, their jobs, and their land overnight. So what is this betrayal all about?

Q: The reference obviously is to suffering of common Muslims in the street during cordon-cum-search operations, crackdowns and arbitrary arrests resorted to by the security forces to control the militancy. Have they not been wronged?

Sofi: Majority community should understand that they are the victims of a proxy war. This war was neither been engineered nor supported by Pandits. In fact they were the first victims of the scheme which forced them to leave the state. Therefore this is an unfair "charge" against Pandits.

Q: The political chief of Jamaat-i-Islami says that not a single cadre of his "Jamat" was responsible for Pandit killings. What is your view?

Sofi: (Smiles): Technically he may be right. Even today they claim that there is no connection between the present killings and Jamat-i-Islami. But the ground realities should also support their views.

Q: Most people in the Valley blame Mr. Jagmohan, the erstwhile Governor of the state, for encouraging the Pandit flight. Do you agree?

Sofi: It is a total lie. It is a part of systematic propaganda. The Pandit flight from the Valley was the sequel to a plan hatched well in advance from the state. It had nothing to do with Jagmohan.

Q: Why could Mr. Jagmohan not organise Pandit camps in some among the 30-odd military stations in the Valley itself?

Sofi: The situation was too bad for Jagmohan when he assumed office. Mr Rajiv Gandhi (not prime minister then) came for an overnight visit. Both I and Jagmohan were present in Centaur Hotel in the lake. Rajiv Gandhi said, "Kashmir is slipping away from us". Such was the situation for Jagmohan. Even Mr. M.L. Fotedar and the then Dy. Prime Minister, Mr Devi Lal, were accompanying Rajiv Gandhi when he said so.

Q: What was the problem in housing the Pandits in makeshift barracks, schools, dharmshalas, institutional army buildings close to military stations? The whole race of Pandits would have been saved the tragedy of deserting their homeland?

Sofi: One has to appreciate the January 1990 situation in the Valley. Jagmohan stayed in Jammu for one night. He took a flight from Jammu and arrived in Srinagar Raj Bhavan the next day. He called some of his friends. He called me too. Had I known that the situation was as bad as it later turned out to be, frankly, I would not have gone to Raj Bhavan. There were just three people in the room when I arrived in Srinagar Raj Bhavan. He offered a cup of tea to me but there was nobody to bring one. I saw him go towards the kitchen three times; presumably, he made the tea himself. There was no administration worth the name anywhere in the state, I mean in the Valley. The police stations all over the Valley were centres of operation for the militants. Jagmohan could not have done anything. Nearly 32,000 Kashmiri Pandits' houses have been burnt since 1991. Is there Jagmohan's hand in this too? People like you, even in 1997, need courage to come to the Valley. Otherwise it is still not safe here. Look what happened in Sangrampura in March 1997 when seven Pandits were mercilessly gunned down.

Q: What is your opinion of the Kashmir Images Survey in which 76% Muslims population wanted the Kashmiri Pandits back in the Valley?

Sofi: The fact is that even today your erstwhile neighbours wish that you all should come back. They would even extend warm hospitality to you when you visit them. But even they will be harbouring a sense of fear while dealing with Pandits. We all need to wait for normalcy which is not yet in sight.

- "Interview with Omkar Razdan in "The Trauma of Kashmir-The Untold Reality

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Justice Delayed, Justice Denied - Zee News

https://www.facebook.com/groups/rootsinkashmir/permalink/1967594276603028/

Modasa Pradesh Brahm Samaj, Gujarat organized a public session on "The facts and feelings about Kashmiri Pandits"

Modasa Pradesh Brahm Samaj, Gujarat
organized a public session on "The facts and feelings about Kashmiri Pandits" on 24th February, 2018 at Modasa, Gujrat, where hundreds of people assembled to pledge their support to the Kashmiri Pandit cause. The session had Roots in Kashmir activists, Sh. Sushil Pandit and Sh. Amit Raina adressing the gathering. While Amit Raina spoke about the fast losing identity of Kashmiri Pandits and encroachment of Temples, Sushil Pandit higlighted the pain and struggle of Kashmiri Pandits in both pre and post exodus days. He also highlighted the broken promises of succesive governments in getting Kashmiri Pandits their homes back with justice and dignity. He requested people of Gujarat to force their representatives to push the government in Delhi to not succumb to the pressures of PDP and the love of power.

Sh. Jogender Upadhyay, from the Madosa Brahm Samaj assured Kashmiri Pandits of support from all people of Gujarat, especially from the 65 lakh Brahmin Community.

Modasa Brahm Samaj also passed a resolution covering the following points:

1.  Abolishing Article 370 and 35 (A)

2. Kashmiri Pandits are the aborigines of Kashmir valley; they should get the status of Native (Schedule Tribe) and Minority for the protection of their religious and ethnic rights.

3. To immediately establish a Kashmiri Pandit’s Commission for the purpose of social justice and legislative empowerment of Kashmiri Pandits

4. To appoint two members in state legislative assembly and one member in Rajya-sabha from the Kashmiri Pandit community. To allocate separate district for their safe rehabilitation in the Kashmir valley.

5.The names of the ancient villages, towns, religious places and monuments of the Kashmir Valley should not be changed.

6. Temples and religious places in the Kashmir valley are heritage of Indian culture therefore the “Temple and Shrine Protection Bill' should be implemented immediately to stop the encroachment of temple land and premises
                                                                                
 https://www.facebook.com/groups/rootsinkashmir/permalink/1962393310456458/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/rootsinkashmir/permalink/1963656766996779/

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sorry, you are late. Justice denied

The Honorable Supreme Court recently dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Roots in Kashmir (RIK). RIK in its PIL had asked for:

1.            Investigation and prosecution of terrorists like Yasin Malik and Farooq Ahmed Daar @ Bitta Karate, Javed Nalka and others, for hundreds of FIR’s of murders of Kashmiri Pandits during 1989-90, 1997 and 1998, and which are lying un-investigated by J&K Police even after expiry of 26 years. 

2.            Transfer of all the FIR’s/cases pertaining to murders of Kashmiri Pandits, from State of J&K to some other State (preferably State of NCT of Delhi), so that the witnesses, who were reluctant to approach police or Courts in view of their safety concerns, can freely and fearlessly come and depose before Investigating agencies and Courts.

3.            Transfer of investigation of all the FIR’s/cases of murder and other allied crimes against Kashmiri Pandits in year 1989-90, 1997 and 1998, to some other independent investigating agency like CBI or NIA or any other agency as appointed by this Court, as till date J&K police has failed miserably to make any progress in hundreds of FIR’s lying pending with them for more than 26 years.

4.            Appointment of some independent Committee or Commission to investigate into the mass-murders and genocide of Kashmiri Pandits during 1989-90 and subsequent years, and also to investigate the reasons for non-prosecution of FIR’s of murders of Kashmiri Pandits and Court-monitored-investigation so that the hundreds of FIR’s can reach their logical conclusion without any further delay.  

5.            Completion of trial and prosecution of Yasin Malik for gruesome murder of 4 officers of Indian Air Force on morning of 25th January 1990, which is currently pending before CBI Court in Ajmer and presently not being prosecuted or followed-up by Indian Air Force. And it should be a matter of shame for the Government of Union of India that 4 of its officers of Indian Air Force were murdered by gun-shots in broad daylight by JKLF terrorist Yasin Malik on 25th January 1990, with many eye-witnesses present there, and till date the charges are not framed in the said case, let alone the punishment. 

The Honorable Court in its order headed by that a bench of Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud said '... the instances referred in the petition pertain to the year 1989-90, and more than 27 years have passed by since then. No fruitful purpose would emerge, as the evidence is unlikely to be available at this late juncture.'  

The order from Supreme Court surprised not only the displaced community but even many legal Pundits. The Honorable  Court surprisingly threw the burden upon the victims on getting a closure instead  of prosecuting and investigating agencies of both the Central and State governments, which have failed miserably in bringing the cases to closure. 

What the Honorable Apex Court apparently missed to notice is that Kashmiri Pandits were ethnically cleansed and erased from their land of their ancestors, and the first and logical effort of such community will be their fight for survival. The community took time to rebuild itself from scratch. The survival of existence was more important than battle of justice, because dead men can’t approach court for justice. 

What makes many wonder is why did J&K High Court or Supreme Court not take suo-motu cognizance of offences itself, when it could take suo-motu cognizance of a murder case of ‘lynching by cow-vigilantes.’     If trial of Bilkis Yakub Rasool gang rape case could be shifted out from Gujarat to Mumbai on the apprehension of the victim and the witnesses could come to harm if the trial was held in Gujarat, why didn’t the Honorable Apex Court appreciate that same stands true for the witnesses and victims of terrorism in the troubled state of Jammu & Kashmir. 

The court missed the basic point, that it is not the Kashmiri Pandits that are in delay. It is Central and State Government that are in delay, it is the courts of this country that have delayed in delivering justice. 

The Supreme in its order while mentioned that 27 years is too late for Kashmiri Community to seek justice, they did not appreciate the fact that community approached every organ of the executive to get justice delivered. They did not appreciate that every political party that came to power in Centre or State, kept promising that they will get justice soon. Many of the cases are pending in various courts without any closure. The Supreme Court conveniently ignored that a victim will approach Supreme Court only after all doors of Justice are closed and that does not happen immediately.  

Supreme Court did not appreciate that 1984 Sikh riots case, which is more than 32 years old, is still to see a final closure, and was opened much later after its occurrence. Ram Janambhoomi – Babri Masjid case is pending since decades, and the recent reopening of cases against top BJP Leaders for Babri Masjid demolition, after the gap of 25 years, should have met the same fate as ours plea. But it was otherwise. A depilated building deserves justice but not 5 lakh Kashmiri Pandits.

Honorable Supreme Court posed a question to the petitioner that how the police will collect evidence after 27 years? A little surprising, because then what made Court believe police or CBI will get evidence in Sikh Riots of 1984 by an unknown mob. In the cases of murders of Kashmiri Pandits, eye witnesses and immediate family members of the victims are still alive. But where should they go to give evidence, when the police is not working and unfortunately the Courts are not interested, and the cases are in areas where he has threat to life.  

In 2014, almost 23 years after it was reported, the trial court in J&K directed state government to further investigate the infamous Konan Poshpora mass rape case. Inspite of multiple probes dismissing the allegations as false, the court while dismissing the revision petition filed by the Indian Army said "crime never dies". The court said that a “delay in investigation” doesn’t debar an investigating agency from “unraveling the truth

In 1999, Government of India, appointed Mukherjee Commission, headed by a retired Supreme Court Justice,  to investigate the death of Subash Chandra Bose, 54 years after his death. Netaji Bose, the great freedom fighter of India, went missing in a foreign country and has been believed to be dead in a plane crash. The retired justice did not for a moment say that where will the evidence come from after 54 years, that too from an investigation which would be spread over few countries. But today the Honorable Supreme Court informed us that it is impossible to gather evidence of killing of 700 people who were killed over period in the last 27 years, in a territory which is a part of Union of India. 

Bangladesh in 2015 executed perpetrators of war crimes committed in 1971, 45 years later. Is the honorable court trying to convey that Bangladesh's legal and justice system better than India? While Israel continued to hunt their Nazi persecutors for 50 years, our system wants us to believe that justice is time bound, and now 700 murders will go unpunished and unnoticed from the history of the largest Democracy in the World. 

Today’s dismissal of PIL by Supreme Court has practically killed all the hopes of any justice to a marginalized community; a community which chose to lose everything but not its love for mother India and its constitution. Today the killers of the community must be gleaming over the fact that they are above everyone else, with a slight regret, “why did we not kill more?”


https://rainaamit.wordpress.com/2017/07/27/sorry-you-are-late-justice-denied/