Saturday, December 29, 2007

Banished Kashmiris express grief at Benazir’s death - Aastha Manocha

New Delhi, December 28: Kashmiri Hindus who were forced by militancy to leave the valley more than 17 years ago have expressed their sorrow at the ‘dastardly killing’ of the ex-PM of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto. A group of Kashmiri Hindus called Roots In Kashmir has expressed condolences with the people of Pakistan and reiterated that using violence or terrorism as an instrument of state policy can be counter productive.

‘It was waiting to happen’, said Aditya Raj Kaul, a member.

They have said that they regret that she didn’t stem the cancer of terrorism when she had the chance as the PM of her country rather in some of her speeches extolled the virtues of armed struggles and supported the Mujahids who were to cleanse the valley of so-called ‘infidels’.
‘It is sad that she was consumed by the same monsters who she had once nourished and supported. In her death lies a lesson not only for Pakistan but also for separatists who brazenly support the armed guerrillas in the valley’, they said while praying that her soul rests in peace.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Lesson in the End.....

The gruesome killing of "The Daughter of the East" sent shivers down our spine.Tragic but only the naive would not have expected this.It was waiting to happen.
Pakistan for long has used terrorism as an instrument of State Policy and Benazir's regime was no exception. Not only did she not check the spread of this malignancy she actually abetted and endorsed it. She conveniently used terrorism to make "India bleeed through thousand cuts". All that happened in Punjab and what is still happening in Kashmir had her blessings.
Amit Baruah's column "Pakistan's Darkest Hour" in "The Hindustan Times" today makes for an interesting reading. He writes "The terror the Pak state spawned has claimed one of its last hopes for the future. The cancer is now in its malignant phase"
Benazir though an English speaking moderate was not alien to process which churned out monsters day out and day in. She was a fellow traveller alongside the armed forces which created these monsters to fight "infidels". When she could have treated the cancer, she looked the other side. Rather she aided in spreading its malignancy. Little did she know then that one day it will come back only to consume her.
Her lectures particularly the one which almost facilitated the ouster of an entire community of infidels from the holy land of Jehad returned to haunt as I was stuck between grief and despair. She shouted "bacha bacha bolega aazadi,har gali se awwaz aayege aazadi,kashmir ki awam rassol-e-pak ke jehad ki awwaz ko buland karaenge,jab tak har ek kafir kashmir chod kar naheen jayega tab tak chain se nahee rahenge kashmir ki awaam...". (watch the below video) Little did she realise that her adrenalin pumping hateful speech would mean death to many infidels and ethinic cleansing of half a million infidels'.
As always I was reminded of the Kashmiri saying that I keep using here on this blog "Aenem soy vavem soy lajem soy paanesey" (I sowed the seeds of the poision ivy and got consumed by them.)

In what happened to Benazir, is a lesson for everyone who wishes to use terrorism as tool for bringing someone to the negotiation table I again refer to Amit Baruah's column "Long used to directing the Bhindrawales to Afgahnistan and Kashmir,Pakistan's formidable military establishment seems helpless in dealing with the jihadis operating with impunity against their own people across the country"
While I mourn her death,I do hope our neighbours learn a lesson from this and desist from creating more monsters, not for our sake but for their own peace.
May her soul rest in Peace, Amen!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

'Terror outfits in Kashmir suffer major setback in 2007'

Press Trust of India (PTI)

JAMMU: Pro-Pakistan terror outfit Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) has suffered the most among the militant groups in Jammu and Kashmir as it lost 34 top commanders and 307 cadres in gunbattles with security forces in 2007.

"Hizb received a major jolt in 2007 having lost 34 top commanders and 307 cadres in the encounters in 2007," top police officers said today.

As a result, "Kashmir militancy's backbone has been broken and Hizb cadres have gone into hibernation after getting demoralised," they said.

Hizb tops the list of 13 terror outfits whose top commanders were among those killed, they said.

These outfits included Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Al-Badr, Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami (HuJI), Tahreek-ul-Mujahideen (TuM), Al-Umar, Jamail-ul-Mujahideen (JuM), JK Freedom Force (JKFF), Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), Hizb-e-Islami (HeI) and Al-Barq.

A total of 77 top militant commanders have been killed by security forces till November this year and Hizb tops the list followed by LeT, JeM, HuJI, Al-Badr, HuM, JuM, TuM, HeI and Al-Barq, according to police data.

The list of militants killed includes 17 commanders of LeT, 13 of JeM, 10 of HuJI and three of Al-Badr.

During past two years of Congress rule in Jammu and Kashmir, 182 commanders were killed and of these 75 commanders were of Hizb followed by 49 of LeT, 18 of JeM, 11 of Al-Badr and 20 of HuJI.

In 2006, out of 105 commanders killed, Hizb lost 41, LeT 32, HuJI 10, JeM five and Al-Badr four.

In 2005, Hizb lost 31 top commanders, followed by 12 of LeT, nine of Al-Badr, seven of JeM, two commanders each of HuM and HuJI, besides one each of TuM, JuM, HeI and Al-Barq.

This year Hizb lost one operation chief commander, four divisional commanders, seven district commanders, nine tehsil commanders, 12 area commanders and company commander, the officers said.

Top among those killed in 2007 include Bilal Afghani, chief commander of Al-Badr on December 3 in Budgham followed by Qari Umar (deputy chief of HuJI for J-K), Abu Hamza (chief operation commander of JuM), Qasim Bhatti (chief operation commander of LeT), Iajaz Ahmed Chopan (chief operation commander of HM), Aby Tallah (operation commander of LeT's Jammu region), Mohammad Younis (commander-in-chief, HMPPR) and Mohd Khalid-ur-Rehman (LeT's India operations head).

In 2004, Hizb had lost three chief operation commanders, Gazi Shahab-uddin, Gazi Naseer-uddin, Saif-ul-Islam, besides deputy chiefs, Abbas Malik, Shakeel Ansari, intelligence chief Tari Aziz.

"Due to crumbling of the top structure of militant outfits like Hizb, LeT, JeM, lower militant cadres are on run in J-K," the officers said.

Source Link: The Times of India

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chinkara gazelle or Kashmiri Hindu? by Lalit Kaul(

December 19, 2007A Chinkara gazelle is killed in Rajasthan in 1998. The alleged killer, actor Salman Khan, is charged and the prosecution is under process.
Many Kashmiri Pandits are killed in Jammu and Kashmir [Images] in the late 1980s and 1990s. The killers, who have admitted the killings, roam free and have not even been charged yet.
Anything wrong with this picture?
Not if you ask the ministry of home affairs (Kashmir division), government of India.
Using the privilege available under the Right to Information Act, Kashmiri Hindu youth filed a petition (click here to see the petition) to get the status of the pending cases against Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bitta Karate.
Bitta Karate started his terror career as a Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front member. During the early days of terrorism in the Kashmir valley, he killed many innocent Kashmiri Hindus.
After waiting for two weeks, these youth got a reply from the director and central public information officer at the ministry of home affairs (Kashmir division), government of India (click here to see the official response).
The following was the stock response:
'...The information you have asked for is not available in the Kashmir Division of Ministry of Home Affairs...'
Not only are terrorists not charged and prosecuted, but the Kashmir division of the ministry of home affairs actually claims not to have any records about these killers and killings.
Am I convinced? Hell, No! Should you be convinced? Hell, No!
This ministry of home affairs has a separate Kashmir division within its ministry and it does not have any information about these merciless killers? Who is fooling whom?
Bitta Karate admitted the to the killings in a television interview. Please click here to see for yourself.
Common people like me have access to these videos and transcripts but the Kashmir division of the ministry of home affairs does not. What a shame!
Bitta Karate spent many years in Indian jails but was eventually released by a TADA court on bail on October 23, 2006. While granting bail, the presiding officer of the TADA court, N D Wani, observed that the court was aware of the fact that the allegations leveled against Bitta Karate are of a serious nature and could carry punishments of death or life imprisonment. The fact is that the prosecution (read the government of Jammu & Kashmir and India) has shown total disinterest in arguing the case, which is in complete violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.
And now Bitta Karate, who admitted killing scores of Kashmiri Hindus, is not only roaming free but is now playing the role of a politician on the Kashmir political scene. It is not inconceivable that there soon might be a day when he will become a state minister in the government of J&K, maybe even chief minister.
Do you feel it is okay for government agencies to let these terrorists roam free and be more concerned about Chinkara gazelles? Please do not get me wrong. I don't have anything against Chinkara gazelles and I do not advocate the killing of these endangered animals. But if I am ever given a choice between saving a human being and a Chinkara gazelle, you know what my choice will be. So where are the government's priorities?
How come terrorists are not being prosecuted as per the laws of the land? What is preventing the law enforcement agencies from implementing the laws and putting these killers behind bars so that they cannot harm any more innocent civilians? Isn't providing security to its citizens the first and foremost responsibility of any government? Am I missing something here?
While pseudo-secular human rights activists continue to scream about the Gujarat riots and clamour for face time on Indian 'progressive' media outlets, they have their lips sealed and pens dry about the horrendous ethnic cleansing of 400,000+ Kashmiri Hindus from Kashmir.
I guess gone are the days when journalists used to stand up against injustice and fight for the rights of ALL human beings, irrespective of the religion they belonged to. These days, it seems they get their stories handed over to them by their politician masters who only care about their kursi and 'votes' that get them that kursi. After all, it is a kissa kursi ka.
All I can say is that if there is life after death, I wish to be reborn as a Chinkara gazelle. At least, I will be assured that I am protected by the Indian Wildlife Act and wildlife activists who will fight for my survival.

Lalit Koul is the editor and publisher of Kashmir Herald, an online news journal available at He can be reached at

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sickness in a New Frame

We received a mail from one Nishat Khan which read this "Ase Gache Pakistan,Batew varaay ti batenevsaan"
For those of you who wonder what this email from a Kashmiri Muslim friend who wrote to Roots in Kashmir means. It means "Muslims of Kashmir want Kashmir without Pandit men but with Pandit women".
Such is the colour of Aazadi or sickness whichever way you look at it.With such sick souls around which honourable person would like to live in Kashmir.More than independence ,Kashmiri Muslims like this Nishat Khan need to be humanised but then who can humanise such masses whose leaders are buy synonmys of Sikander Butshikan and Nero.
When we last received a mail form one Yahya Khan (another Kashmiri Muslim friend) exhtolling the virtues of being a "Bitta Karate" we presumed sickness cant go farther than this but we were terribly wrong. Kashmir's psyche in the absence of Pandits,its original inhabitants,has gone to perverse positions.
I can only request God to forgive people like Nishat and Yahya and maybe he re-considers the desicion of who to be sent as a part of Ashraf-ul-Makhlooq'.

The Mask Comes Off.....

Spin Doctors and Image Makers spent many years and wrote reams of paper trying to potray a wolf as a lamb.A lamb who was at the mercy of the butcher(the State of India in this case).They worked overtime and burnt midnight fuel making movies and writing lengthy juicy articles on how Yasin Malik and JKLF were totrtured by the Indian Government.How their inalienable right to kill and terrorize "minorities" was being taken away by the Indian State.In all this the Electronic English Media channels like NDTV and CNN-IBN played their part.They projected Yasin Malik as a Gandhi.What all of them conveniently chose to ignore was his past.How he had maimed and killed people in the name of something called "Azadi" was simply swept under the carpet and not talked about.But then who has ever controlled Frankesteins.
Last night probably JKLF had a bath , its lambs attire washed down in Jhelum.The wolf emerged...

Here read this...
JKLF to review its decision of ceasefire, if K-dispute is not resolved
Muzaffarabad: The chief commander of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Salem Haroon has said that JKLF would reconsider its decision of ceasefire if human rights violations continued unabated in Kashmir and the dispute was not resolved in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of Kashmiri people. According to a press statement issued here Tuesday, Haroon made these remarks while addressing “Mujahideen” commanders of the organization on the occasion of world human rights day Monday. Expressing serious concern over the ever-increasing violence in Jammu and Kashmir he said that despite the Indian government’s claims of zero-tolerance against rights abuses there was no let up in the human rights violations in the state. He regrettably noted that the extra judicial killings, torture, molestation of Kashmiri women and killing of innocent civilians continued unabated. He said that it was ironic that Indian troops were seeking promotions and getting awards thereby killing innocent Kashmiris ruthlessly without an inkling of accountability. Hailing the endeavours of the party leader, the JKLF chief commander expressed his gratitude to all those Kashmiris who participated in the protest and token hunger strike led by Muhammad Yasin Malik, the Chairman of Liberation Front. He reiterated that JKLF would continue its efforts to take the ongoing liberation struggle to its logical end despite all odds.

Monday, December 10, 2007

RIK blasts NHRC for being silent on Pandits Exodus

State Times (Front Page)

The Hindu (Nation Page)

The Political & Business Daily

Hindustan (Front Page)

Dainik Jagran


Press Coverage of Protest by Pandit Children under the banner of "Roots in Kashmir"

UPROOTED! Activists and children of Kashmiri Pandits participate in a candlelight protest organised by ‘Roots in Kashmir’ at Indira Park in Hyderabad on Sunday, on the eve of International Human Rights Day to bring to light the injustice meted out to the Kashmiri Pandits
Frustated Pandits look for their Human Rights-Aastha Manocha(The Indian Express)
New Delhi, December 9: Hundreds of young Kashmiri Pandits marched from Jantar Mantar to B K Ganjoo Park via Bangla Sahib on the eve of Human Rights Day to protest against the relative silence of NHRC on their plight as they have been left to fend for themselves in exile for the last 18 years.
Led by mostly children and youngsters under the banner of Roots In Kashmir the protestors shouted anti-NHRC and anti-terrorist slogans. Many children marched ahead, carrying banners with slogans pleading to save their community from extinction and joining an endangered species list.
The march proceeded from Jantar Mantar to Bangla Sahib to pay their respects to the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur who had vowed to protect the Kashmiri Pandits back in the 15th century. From there they marched to B K Ganjoo Park, named after a telecom engineer brutally killed at his home in the valley during militancy. After saying a small prayer at the park in memory of the friends, families and homes lost to militancy, the meeting commenced.
By means of this march the displaced community also looked to raise awareness about the atrocities committed on them.
‘Last year we had submitted a memorandum, we were assured action but nothing has been done about it, the NHRC has been proved to be a toothless tiger, there is no use of such kinds of so-called watchdogs’, said Rashneek Kher, a member at the march.
‘The least they could have done was to initiate proceedings against the people we had named.’
Similar protests and similar sentiments were seen all over the country in cities like Hyderabad, Chandigarh etc.

NHRC fails to provide succour: Kashmiri Pandits (THE TRIBUNE)

Pandits criticise Rights Panel - The Asian Age

New Delhi, Dec. 9: "Roots in Kashmir", a youth group from Kashmir, held a protest rally on the occasion of International Human Rights Day here on Sunday to bring to light the alleged injustice perpetrated on Kashmiri pandits.

The activists marched from Jantar Mantar to Shaheed B.K. Ganjoo Park at Gole Market. The protesters also paid obeisance at the Bangla Sahib Gurdwara, signifying the importance of the martyrdom given by Guru Teg Bahadur for the pandit community. "Roots in Kashmir" has condemned the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for not coming to the rescue of the Kashmiri pandits. "It has been 14 years since the formation of NHRC but it has completely failed to address the grievances of the Pandit community, which is living in its 18th year of exile from its homeland," said Roots in Kashmir media coordinator Aditya Raj Kaul.

To escape persecution, more than 500,000 Kashmiri pandits had to leave their homes in the Valley and out of that, more than 50,000 are still languishing in uninhabitable refugee camps in Jammu and Delhi. "The NHRC has ceased to exist for us. We have submitted memorandums, fought cases and even met all senior bureaucrats and officials to appraise them of the situation but no results till date," said Ms Neeru Kaul, an activist from the group.
"It continues to work as a biased forum," she added.

Roots in Kashmir is also unhappy with the Indian government over the issue of terrorism. "In spite of cases of serious nature pending against terrorists, they roam free, but Pandits continue to live a life of refugees in their own land," Mr Aditya Raj Kaul said.

Roots in Kashmir chief coordinator Amal Magazine said, "The international recognition of our issues is the result of the struggle launched by the Pandit group during the last 17 years of exile. Roots in Kashmir holds that terror has become a pan-India phenomenon now with global linkages and the group endeavours to bring to light the real culprits and murderers of innocent Kashmiris."

What about us, say Kashmiri Pandits

Abhinav Kumar

In exile for the past 18 years, Kashmiri Pandits in the Capital condemned the National Human Rights Commission on Sunday for failing to investigate cases of atrocities against members of their community by militants in Jammu and Kashmir even after filing a petition on it a year ago.
Pragya, 11, a member of the Kashmiri Pandit community, has visited her ancestral home only twice. Born and brought up in Delhi, a visit to her homeland in Jammu has increased the urge to go back to her native land.

“The place is simply fantastic,” she exclaims, not finding the right words to express her longing for her homeland.

As many as 100 members of the community took out a protest march from Janpath to BK Ganjoo Memorial Park near Gole Market demanding a fair trial and the immediate arrest of Yasin Malik and Bitta Karate, besides better living conditions for the 50,000 displaced Kashmiri Pandits living in camps in Jammu.

“As per United Nations guidelines and definitions, our community also qualifies to receive the status of Internally Displaced People. We feel we should be granted this status since we are neither migrants nor refugees. We are Indian nationals and we have been ousted from our homes,” said Aditya Raj Kaul, media coordinator of Roots in Kashmir, a youth organisation fighting for the community’s cause.

Members of the community across Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad, Baroda and Jammu staged simultaneous protests against the rights panel.

“It has been 18 years now since the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from Jammu. Probes have been ordered into the Ayodhya and the Godhra cases, but the cases of militant action against the Kashmiri Pandits have been totally ignored by the NHRC,” said Amal Magazine, chief coordinator, Roots in Kashmir.

“December 9 being the World Human Rights Day, we hope our protests act as a wake up call for the NHRC and result in a probe into the cases and also meet our other demands,” said Raj.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

NHRC has failed to provide succour: Kashmiri Pandits

Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi , Dec 9 (IANS): Displaced Kashmiri Pandits Sunday flayed the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), accusing it of failure to provide succour to the community living in exile for the past 18 years.

On the eve of International Human Rights Day, a rights group, Roots In Kashmir (RIK), held a protest rally in the national capital, bringing to light the "injustices perpetrated on the community".
Hundreds of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits were driven out of their homeland in 1990, a year after separatist insurgency broke out in Muslim majority Kashmir Valley with armed groups demanding separation from India on religious lines.

"The NHRC has ceased to exist for us. We have submitted memorandums, fought cases and even met all senior bureaucrats and officials to apprise them of the situation but there has been no result till date," Neeru Kaul, an RIK activist, told IANS.
"It has completely failed to address the grievances of the Pandit community, which is living in its 18th year of exile from its homeland."
She said that despite cases of serious nature pending against erstwhile militant commanders, Yasin Malik and Bitta Karate, they continue to roam freely enjoying "all support from the Indian government".
On the other hand, "the Pandits continue to live the life of refugees in their own land", said Kaul.

"Astonishingly, the NHRC and the home ministry of India have in a written communication against a Right To Information application said that they don't have any data on terrorist Bitta Karate of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front while it's a known fact that there are cases pending against him in TADA and CBI courts," said Aditya Koul of RIK, who had filed the application around two months back.
"In the reply, the home ministry also said that they have no information on the number of Pandits killed in the Kashmir Valley since 1989," Koul said.
The group had equally harsh words for global human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
"A blind attitude towards the ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Pandit community speaks volumes of the discrimination against the Kashmiris," said Koul.

The rallyists are demanding that an enquiry commission be set to probe the reasons for Kashmiri Pandits' exodus from the valley and that the trial of former militant commanders like Bitta Karate and Yasin Malik be initiated.

They also said that exiled Pandits be declared as Internally Displaced People (IDP) and given succour according to the UN norms as well as better rehabilitation facilities for the people living in relief camps in Jammu and Delhi.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


JOIN "ROOTS IN KASHMIR" for a walk in central Delhi on the eve of the International Human Rights Day to protest the biased attitude of the Human Rights groups and activists against the Kashmiri Pandit Community in last two decades.
As the children march for their rights, join in and support the movement of "ROOTS IN KASHMIR"
Be There on 9th December (Sunday) @ 2:30pm sharp
At JANTAR MANTAR...and we will walk to B.K. Ganjoo Park at Gole Market

For more infor contact: 9873900479, 9818698920

Centre should initiate dialogue with Pandits: Panun Kashmir

NHRC should change its name to National Hindu Reprimand Commission: PKM

Staff Reporter

Central, State Governments accused of being “indifferent” towards community

NEW DELHI: Panun Kashmir Movement, a faction seeking a separate homeland for Kashmiri Pandits, on Tuesday said the Central Government should take immediate steps to initiate a dialogue with the displaced community.

A PKM delegation led by its president Ashwani K. Chrungoo accused the governments at the Centre and the State of being “indifferent” to the Pandits and said any talks to resolve the Kashmir problem would be inconclusive without the participation of the minority community.

"During the time of the exodus, the State and the Central government were indifferent to us (Pandits). And in the past 18 years not much has changed. It is high time that the Central Government begins a dialogue with us,” said Mr. Chrungoo, who is currently in Delhi leading a “Sankalp Yatra” aimed at drawing attention to the issues of displacement and human rights violation of the minorities in Kashmir.

Mr. Chungroo said the community feels let down by the State Administration as well as by the National Human Rights Commission. “We have been demanding that till the time a separate homeland is provided to the minorities in Kashmir, Pandits should be identified as internally displaced people and provided aid as is mandated by the United Nations,” he added.“Realise the plight”

He said the entire country needs to wake up to the plight of the Pandits and perceive the Kashmir problem as a “question of national security”.

“Everything in Kashmir has been affected by fundamentalism and terrorist activities. So severe has been the impact that even the ecology has not been spared,” Mr. Chungroo said. “This Sankalp Yatra that began on November 11 from Srinagar will travel to nine States and create awareness about such issues.”

Panun Kashmir has been seeking a separate homeland for Pandits in the North and East of river Jhelum, which will be governed by the Indian Constitution.

The yatra began from Sheetalnath, on the banks of the Jhelum, and has already covered Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and Jammu and Kashmir. It will now head to Jaipur and move to Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

New Delhi, Dec 4: Lashing out at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Kashmiri Pandits today called for changing its name to ‘National Hindu Reprimand Commission’ in view of its ‘’biased nature’’ and failure to address their grievances and problems for the past 18 years.

"Since 2000, the NHRC has ceased to exist for us. It works as a biased forum. It has failed not only constitutionally, but also that part of the Constitution under which it has been constituted. It has failed to come to the rescue of Kashmiri Pandits,’’ according to Ashwini Kumar, Chairman of Panun Kashmir Movement (PKM), a frontline organisation of Kashmiri Pandit migrants.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Godhra Carnage Vs. Pundits Exodus

By J. N. Raina
Syndicate Features

On-again, off-again nature of talk about 2002 Gujarat riots, on the heels of Godhra carnage, is preposterous. It is outrageous and disgusting to raise such issues, rendered irrelevant with the passage of time, to tarnish the image of India, booming with economic activity. It is disrespectful to the nation of one billion people.
The so-called ‘Tehelka expose’ has, in fact, exposed the hollowness of pseudo-secularists, who flourish on such ‘gossip’. Such loose discussions, brought to the fore repeatedly, should be put to an end once for all. The drum-beaters of secularism are deliberately orchestrating of what they call ‘sting operation’, when the Assembly elections in Gujarat are approaching. It is the height of stupidity to claim that the ‘expose’ just ‘coincided’ with the announcement of the Assembly poll in Gujarat.
In the first instance, such ‘exposures’ are politically-motivated. The ‘power hungry’ Congress politicians know when and how to operationalise their ‘mischievous designs’, how to indulge in dirty tricks and how to mould public opinion. They raise the bogey of Gujarat riots, without bothering to mention about Godhra mayhem, in which 58 Hindu Kar Sevaks were roasted alive while they were traveling in the Sabarmati Express. The reaction to Godhra was Gujarat riots.
The question is what was the need to reopen healed up wounds. If it was needed at all, why ‘publicity’ was not given to these killings six months earlier? What was done is done; cannot be undone. No sane person will gloat over the killings or justify them.
But raising such issues repeatedly cannot be justified. More so since the secularists across the country did not bother to talk about the gruesome killings of nearly 1200 Kashmiri Hindus in early 1990 and later in sporadic incidents of ethnic cleansing. These killings and the resultant mass exodus of 5, 00,000 Hindus from Kashmir Valley are a blot on the Indian democracy.
Hardly 15,000 Hindus are left in the valley now. Have they no right to live in their land of birth? Have they no democratic rights? The Human Rights organizations and the Amnesty International are just feigning ignorance about the apathetic conditions of the Kashmiri Hindus. So far the Indian Government’s internal policy priorities are concerned human rights of Kashmiri Pundits have been locked in the boot.
Since there is so much talk about post-Godhra carnage by secularists, may I ask them why they are not equally strident in the case of Kashmiri Hindus’ plight. Why don’t they pause for a while to wonder what was the fault of the Kashmiri Hindus to be marginalised and neglected in their own country? What crime had they committed against the majority Muslim community in the Valley?
After the mass exodus, their houses were looted and set on fire. Temples and other places of worship were burnt down. The Hindus were compelled to dispose off their properties at throwaway prices, so that they don’t dare to return to the Valley. Is this secularism? Is this democracy? No eyebrows were raised about the pogrom of the Kashmiri Hindus.
For Kashmiri Hindus, secularism has been buried in the graveyards of Kashmir. The moderate Muslims were helpless as the radicals are holding the sway. And they just advised the ‘Hindu brethren’ to leave for lack of security.
To cap it all, some maverick writers believe that killings of Muslims in Gujarat, as exposed by Tehelka, should not be suppressed. Does it mean, what has happened to Kashmiri Hindus and non-Kashmiri Hindus, who had also settled there for decades, should be suppressed? It is shameful. Why was not any commission set up to go into the killings and forcible exodus of Kashmiri Hindus?
Why are there one-sided sting operations? Is it not a new weapon in the hands of the secularists to divide the society on communal lines, keeping in mind the vote bank policy?
The authorities in Godhra, soon after the mayhem, had made an unsavoury statement that those who had burnt alive the karsevaks were “uneducated, without jobs and poor. Most of them, called Ghanchi Muslims, live in poverty and have no economic activity” How amazing? The Godhra officials were forced to make confusing statements to suppress the truth about Godhra.
These tactics are sure to boomerang and destroy the age-old residual communal harmony. They should realize such exposures will retaliate on them, just like terrorism has boomeranged on Pakistan. Dr Sachidananda Sinha has well said: “Where there is no vision, the people perish”.
Maverick writer Farzana Versey argues that the cause of Kashmiri Hindus has been romanticized. In a recent news paper article, “Fission Kashmir” (September 7, 2007) she remarks: “Unlike the 140 terrorist groups, the Pandit lobby is strong. It can organize itself. Displaced Pundits are now demanding reservations in the Jammu and Kashmir legislature and government jobs, as well as setting up of three townships in the Valley for their rehabilitation”. What is wrong in making these demands?
Unlike Versey, some Pakistan journalists appear to sympathise with Kashmiri Pundits. They visited the migrant camps in Jammu and saw things for themselves. They have taken up the cudgels for speaking the truth. For the past 17 years, the Pundit community has lost its cultural moorings. They have lost their identity as an ethnic group, and are unable to preserve their traditions and customs.
Some Indian journalists are talking about ‘nailing the guilty of Gujarat’. Their response is based on Tehelka’s investigations, which, according to them, has ‘provided evidence on tapes ‘of stories relating to the Muslims’ killings by top functionaries of the BJP and Sangh Parivar.
Well, if that is indeed the case, what about nailing known JKLF activist Bitta Karatay, who, in a recent TV interview had claimed responsibility for killing scores of Hindus, with many more on his hit-list. He was in jail for 16 years on the charge of murdering a score of Kashmiri Hindus.
The Supreme Court has released Karatay recently for ‘want of evidence’.
Courtesy: Asian Tribune

Monday, November 26, 2007

Declare us Internally Displaced: Kashmiri Pandits

Sarwar Kashani
Indo-Asian News Service (IANS)

New Delhi : Saying they would wish to go back to their roots even if forced to "remain in exile for 1,000 years", displaced Kashmiri Pandits are demanding that they be declared internally displaced persons.

In search of their identity and home, they organised a musical concert here this weekend with the help of one of their Delhi organisations, Roots in Kashmir (RIK). The musical sojourn at Chinmaya Auditorium in south Delhi brought forth a nostalgic montage of the Kashmir valley, which is silhouetted by unceasing violence.

"Keeping in touch with our lost culture is to memorise our homeland," 18-year-old Aditya Raj Koul of RIK told IANS.
"Kashmiri Pandits feel cheated," he said. "We demand the affected people should immediately be declared internally displaced persons (IDPs), in accordance with the definition of the UN."
IDPs are people forced to flee their homes but who, unlike refugees, remain within their country's borders.
According to UN guiding principles on internal displacement, IDPs are those who have been forced or obliged to leave their homes to avoid the effects of armed conflict or violations of human rights and who have not crossed an internationally recognised state border.
Nearly 350,000 Kashmiri Pandits, who are Hindus, were forced to move out of the valley after Islamist militancy broke out in 1989, and since then they have been living in camps in Jammu, Delhi and other places in India.

And they were present in force at the musical event.

A leading singer from Kashmir, Vijay Kumar Malla, enthralled the audience, mostly Pandits, with devotional songs, Sufi music and ghazals.

Malla, known as the Ghulam Ali of Kashmir, touched an emotional chord while recalling the literary and scenic beauty of the valley.

And when Malla sang Ehsan Qamri's Urdu ghazal "Ham Se Mat Poochhiye Hum Kidhar Jaayenge: Thhak Gaye Hain Bahut, Apne Ghar Jaayenge" (literally meaning: Don't ask where I shall go; Too tired, I want to go home now), tears rolled down many an eye.

There were moments of joy too when the singer churned out romantic love songs from Kashmir.
"Tamah" (a desire), as the programme was aptly titled, was meant to "bring the matters of Kashmiri Pandits into public focus and was a wish to reunite the community under one roof".

"Kashmiri Pandits are incessantly facing the demographical and geopolitical wrath of their having become outcast," Koul said. He alleged that the Indian government's claims about rehabilitating them had turned out to be a political gimmick.
"Many (among the displaced) feel that the sensitivity of this issue has been adulterated and compromised with. The pain is too much to bear with, which burns deep in our hearts and minds," said Koul, whose RIK has taken an initiative to highlight the plight and rights of the community.
Reiterating the demand for a probe into the causes and events of selective killings of Pandits,followed by alleged ethnic cleansing by terrorists, Koul said it was "amazing that not a single person has been convicted for the killing of thousands of Pandits".
Before Malla, another Kashmiri singer, Lovely Raina, mesmerised the audience as did RIK's imposing audio-visual presentation that traced the history of their exodus and how Pandits fell to militant bullets way back in 1989-90.
One of the posters in the presentation made the point of Pandits longing to return. "Even after 1,000 years of exile, we will be back to the valley, back to the roots in Kashmir," read the poster.

(Sarwar Kashani can be contacted at

RIK Concert "Tamah-A Desire" : Pandits live back lost moments of their roots

Pandit Vijay Malla performing live in concert at "Tamah"
Roots In Kashmir, organised a grand musical evening in the capital for fundraising of our future campaigns on 24th November 2007 at Chinmaya Mission Auditorium in New Delhi. Performing live in concert wwas none other then renowned singer Vijay Malla - also known as the Ghulam Ali of Kashmir; accompanying him was Lovely Raina, an equally well-known singer.
Malla stole the show with his quick recitation of "Byel Tay Madal..." and "Harmaukh Bar tal..."; while hundreds of people who had thronged the auditorium could easily be seen clapping to the tunes.
This very RIK concert has historical significance as it is one of the first to be held in the capital organised by the displaced pandit youth after almost 18 years of exile from their homeland.
Earlier, the programme was started by vandana performed by Dalip Langoo; while the ligting of the lamp ceremony was done by a small child signifying the importance and the role of the youth in the coming years to restore our heritage.
An RIK audio-visual presentation was also shown on the occassion which elaborated on the last one year activity of RIK and its various campaigns through music and pictures.
The comparing of the programme was done by Radhika Kaul and Sanjay Wali.
RIK wishes to thank all its supporters, activists and other organisations who helped in making "TAMAH" a sucess.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Freedom Song - by Rhythma Kaul (in Mail Today)

Rapper Hash sings of a lost land and the sorrow of the homeless, giving a new edge to the demands of Kashmiri refugeesThe first thing you want to know about rapper Emcee Hash is what his name stands for. It’s ‘Heavily Affected by Smoking Herb’, typicalstreet lingo that you would expect a rapper to use. But then take a look at his lyrics and it sounds as if it is 80’s broken hearted reggae or pop that talks of the romance of revolution and struggle.“Live long, pray, our story recited /for y'all to hear /refugee from the place called home/our family tree began there homes/ now we set free, with an A-k/ready to deliberate”, he sings.The California- based, Emcee Hash is not talking of a forgotten revolution. With his rap number released on the net on November 17, he has become the voice of the Kashmiri Pandits whose struggles and tears his lyrics reflect. Hash, whose formal name is Ashish Kaul, was born to immigrant Kashmiri parents who reached the US via Australia. “Such songs may help in rekindling lost hope and bringing a new zeal to realize the ultimate goal of our homeland,” says Aditya Raj Kaul, 18-years-old social activist. The fact that a US based rapper, --the song has seen about 200 downloads in the one week since it was posted on his site -- has taken up the cause of Panun Kahsmir has given even the elders of the community hope that their cause will attract international attention. “It feels nice to see that the youth has taken charge of things. It will keep our hope alive that some day we may be able to return to our homeland,” says Somnath Wali, an octogenarian activist based in Ahmedabad,Though his lyrics reflect the pain of a community driven from their land and living as refugees, Ashish Kaul hasn’t had any a feel of his place yet. Though the history of his people and the experiences that ‘scarred his brethren,’ have come to him through stories told to him and what he has read, Kaul feels that he is one among the suffers. “The song ‘Panun Kashmir’ is a work that I have wanted to do for a long time, particularly ever since I embarked on my career as a musician. Although, I haven’t personally experienced the ache and misery that KPs underwent, I feel that my inner self can express similar feelings of pain and frustration through songs like this one,” Hash told Mail Today in an e-mail interview. Hash describes himself as a Kashmiri first and then a hybrid of Indian, Australian and American cultures. “I have had the opportunity to assimilate into multiple cultures in my young life and that has only helped me in my understanding of these entirely different worlds and situations,” he says. A major reason behind the anguish and frustration so visible in his lyrics is the condition of his grandfather, who stays with him in the US and has been suffering from dementia caused by a stroke he had when circumstances forced him to sell his ancestral home in the valley. “I wanted to write a song that would highlight our story, our struggles and bring them to the forefront of the minds of people,” Ashish Kaul says. Hash, 29, who has been a profesional musician doing gigs in and around California, intends to inspire people all over the world— Hindus, Muslims and all, to realize that, “It’s not about religion, it’s about terrorism, and it is high time we take a stand and unite to destroy this horror that has molested people all over the world and particularly for over a decade the people of my community,” he says. Then why the talk of hitting back with guns in his lyrics? “My reference to using guns and fighting back do not have to be taken as literals, they are expressions of my frustration, and the important message is unity and taking a stand. I hope that is how people take it.”The rap number was in the making for quite some time. He could not begin the song until I had found the perfect instrumental for it; as soon as he heard the beat created by Rapid Fly Beats), he got to writing, and when he did, he could not stop till the song was complete. Having completed the lyrics for the song, which was in early August of 2007, Hash forwarded them to his harshest critics— his family and friends, who came up with an encouraging feedback. “I knew this would be a song that people would appreciate and would associate with, and I am glad that my assumption is becoming a reality,” he says. His Kashmiri fans are hoping that such songs will start a journey of reconciliation for them.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

An Eyewitness Account of the 1947 raid by Tribals from Pakistan-by T.N.Bhan

My name is Triloki Nath Bhan and I was 18 years old young boy living in Sehyar, test Srinagar when Pakistani Army along with Kabailies from North West Frontier Province, launched a series of surprise attacks across Jammu and Kashmir on October 24, 1947. As is well known the Pakistani invaders quickly overwhelmed the the forces of Maharaja Hari Singh. Most of the Muslim units of J& K Army comprising of Mirpuri deserted and joined the invaders after killing their Hindu and Sikh Officers. Muzzafarabd fell within a few hours of the attack and the invaders proceeded towards Baramula, Sopore and Srinagar. At the Uri bridge Brigadier Rajinder Singh lost his life putting up a valiant fight .He held the invaders for two days which gave time to the Maharajah to flee the valley. and the Indian Army to intervene.

The Pakistani invaders entered Baramula on October 26, 1947 and proceeded to indulge in Rape, murder, loot and arson, especially targeting Sikhs and Kashmiri Pandit community. By the morning of October 27th some raiders had reached the outskirts of Srinagar. Hari Singh's exit had totally broken the morale of the government and security establishment. Police stations were empty. anything could happen at any time. Sheikh Abdullah and his National Conference organized a voluntary force of young men known as Salamati Fauj in the city with specific direction to maintain communal harmony at all costs. This worked, Halka Committees became the police station. I remember I also joined this force to patrol the streets to ensure nobody disturbed the communal harmony. Most of the Hindu leadership had left the valley for Jammu. As the Kashmiri Pandits trickled in from the countryside we began to hear the tales of atrocities, plunder, rape and murder of innocent Hindus and Sikhs by the Pakistani invaders.

Although Kashmir's Pandits were leaderless as even our RSS leaders such as Bal Raj Madhok had left the city we the grassroot RSS Swyamsewaks began to organise ourselves to defend and protect Pandit honor. I belonged to Putli Dharamshalla Shakha. We decided to go out of Srinagar to visit other cities and villages and see for ourselves the condition of our Kashmiri Pandits brothers and sisters so that help could be arranged for the needy. I was accompanied by other Swyamsewaks such as Maharaj Krishan Mirza, Amar Nath Ganju, Manohar Nath Bhagati, Lakshmi Narain Kaul, Bhaska nath ganjoo, Durga Nath Dhar, Trilokinath Dhar, Prithvinath Dhar, Naranjan Kaul, Brijnath Moza and others. These volunteers hailed from Sehyar, Rehbaba Sahib and Rishipeer. We began our journey on 30th October 1947. Starting on foot in the early morning we first touched Shalteing about four miles down the road from Chhatabal Custom Post. Here we went inside the enclosed Chinar Grove and found two dead bodies of the Kabali-invaders who had been strafed by the Indian Air Force aircraft. Onward we reached Pooshbugg a village near Pattan where kabalies had executed 14 Kashmiri Pandits as they were performing fire veneration "Hawan". The fire was still smoldering. Luckily all fourteen had already been cremated by the Pandits of the neighboring villages who had escaped the onslaught of these savages. All Pandit houses were looted. We tried to enter the town of Pattan but we were not allowed to enter. We could only guess the gruesome condition of Pandits in the town.

After Pattan we continued our journey to Sangarhama-detour to Sopore.There is a thick willow grove on the right side of the main road. A Muslim boy told us that we should go and see what had happened there. Visiting the Grove was most horrendous and traumatizing experience as we saw pieces of Indian currency notes and human skeletons scattered in the area. The boy told us that Sikh adults had killed their women and children here to ensure they did not fall in the hands of these heartless and treacherous Paksitani's. Dazed we turned and left toward Sopore. We had walked about 200 yards we found a Kacha road to the left leading us to a Seer (Hindu Shrine). There we found a Mullah was teaching Quran to two Pandit women who were dressed in a Burka. As the Mullah saw us he took to his heels as we began chanting "Har Har Mahadev", the women retracted and threw their Burkas. The shrine in Seer was reduced to heap of rubble and two Muslim men were pulling out the nails from the burnt wooden planks. The worse was still to come. We saw couple of KP's men and women coming towards us all in tears, and crying. They told us that the local Muslims had invited two Pakistani Kabailies from Baramula and all our brethren had been asked to assemble in the ground near a mosque where a calf was slaughtered in their presence. Pieces of raw beef were forced down their throat and abuses were heaped. Their houses were looted-clean sweep, even the doors and window frames were pulled out. We spent the night with them, the bedding was the hay of rice. Of course we recited the bhajans the whole night. On the dawn of next day we began our journey towards Sopore. In this town not much damage was done. The leader of Kashmir pandits was Jat Kak Zutshi father of Jeevan Zutshi of California. Mr. Zutshi had worked with Muslim elders in the city to protect the KP's. Unfortunately Jat Kak had become a target of the Kabaleys and he hid under the hay in the house of a Muslim friend on the condition that he convert to Islam. Jat Kak Zutshi's family was my neighbor in Jamalatoo in Srinagar.

The next day we proceeded to Bomai Village which is a couple of miles from Sopore on way to Handwara. Here the first assassination of a Batta had taken place a few days before the Pakistani invasion. The Martyre was Pandit Sarwanand Kaul an honest and diligent Intelligence Officer in the State Government. He was kidnapped and butchered a couple of kilometers from his house. We comforted the family. Buomay Battas were safe. No damage , except they were terribly shaken and fearful. We had lunch with them and assured them that the whole of Indian nation was with them.

On Reaching Handwara we witnessed six kucha earthen mounds burying six Kashmir Pandits belonging to one family. It was a mass suicide committed the family. Then we witnessed the same thing as we had seen earlier in Seer. Houses had been looted, KP residents were helter skelter seeking shelter to save their lives. We stayed in Handwara for the night sleeping on the bran (kuchh). In the morning we started to dig the bodies but the Commander of the area prevented us and said that Army would do it. It was a very tense night for us as firing from both sides was still going on. Taking the kuchha route to Baramula via Langet we continued our journey.

At Langet we found two dead bodies who were cremated by us. Langet had special significance for me as it is close to Trihagram where my maternal uncle Mr. Zindalal Raina of Rainawari residing near Hari Singh High School was assassinated in 1931 when Sheikh Abdullah as a Muslim Communalist had aroused the Hindu-Muslim strife in the valley.

We reached Baramula in the evening and came across a young Kashmiri Pandit who was a lecturer of English in the Govt. College there. He offered us to stay overnight which we did. His house was also looted as mentioned earlier. He told us how his beautiful wife and other young KP ladies had been locked in a house and gang raped by the Muslim invaders. Next day he showed us the house from which these women had jumped to death from the fourth story. During the talk he told us that one respectable couple in the town was dragged through the streets. We saw every KP house was looted-clean sweep even the doors and windows were removed. Streets were deserted Batta houses were like skeletons and the inhabitants had either gone into hiding or were killed. Many had committed suicide by jumping into the Jhelum river. Crossing the bridge to the other side where market and Govt. offices were housed, we were shown a spot in the middle of the bridge from where young Hindu-Pandit, Sikh and Khatri ladies plunged to their death by drowning into the river. Those who did not have a chance to kill themselves were herded into Tehsil compound and gang raped. All Hindu shops were looted in totality. We finally went to the Christian School and found that even the Nuns were not spared. Many had been raped before being murdered.

Out of respect we went to the spot where Maqbool Sherwani was hanged for misdirecting the invaders. At that point the Army Commander advised us to retrun to Srinagar as Baramula was still not safe for Hindus and Sikhs. It was clear that 30,000 Hindus men and women ( Pandit, Sikh and Kahtri) had either lost their lives or were taken as sex slaves by the Pakistani invaders.

Returning to Srinagar was a traumatic experience as if living hell was waiting for us. All of us were arrested and imprisoned in the Halqa Committee, denied food and beaten mercilessly for several days. By the skin of our teeth we managed our freedom with the condition that we would be under surveillance and roll called twice a day. It was clear to us that one way or the other these National Conference Halqa Committee Goons were going to get rid of us. We tried our best to find a way to get out of Srinagar. My quest to find someone who could get us out led me to Mr. Kashi Nath Fotedar who was an important Officer in the Indian Army in Badami Bagh. He was of immense help to many older Kashmir's Pandits and children who he sent out in Army trucks. Another great Batta was Flt. Luit J. N. Dhar from Vicharnagh who was the only Kashmiri speaking Pilot at that time whom Nehru had deputed him to Srinagar. He too rendered great service to the community by flying out beleaguered KP's in Airforce planes. I need to introduce Pandit Kashi Nath Fotedar first as he is the industrious father of Hira Fotedar and is the father of my wife Dulari Bhan as well. Mr. J. N. Dhar is the maternal uncle of Hira and paternal uncle of Vijay Dhar of Union City California.

My escape from Srinagar was possible only on April 6, 1948. I along with Manohar Bagati, Lakshmi Narain Kaul and Amar Nath Ganjoo walked all the way to Ptahankot on foot for 22 days. I finally settled at Saharanpur UP where I lived for 54 years.

Now I would like to pay my homage to all the KP Martyrs in 1931, 1947 and 1990. My compliments to those who by didn't of their courage, resilience and focus rebuilt their lives from scratch without Government aid under very difficult circumstances. I wish to thank many old Kashmiri Pandits who offered all four of us help in Kanpur and helped us settle down. My companions Bagati, Kaul and Ganjoo sahib eventually returned to Srinagar where Mr. Amar Nath Ganjoo became an important RSS functionary. My thanks to Mr. B. K. Kaul ICS Iron and Steel Controller, Mr. H. N. Sapru Dy Director of Industries UP and S.n. Shivpuri , GM Cement Corporation. I am sure these great men have left us but I did want to recognise their help to many KP refugees in 1947.

Dear friends I am a proud Swayamsewak, and will be a Swyamsewak till my death.


Triloki Nath Bhan

Memphis Tennesee USA

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


(An old cartoon from the India Today)

Recently our lost homeland has been a buzz with news of different nature. The national media has been replete with the stories about Kashmiri Pandits reopening their temples and other places of worship after nearly eighteen years. These news stories also empathetically highlight the cooperation extended by the local Muslims in organizing the prayers and hawans at the previously abandoned temples. This is also fact that now more and more displaced Kashmiri Pandits find themselves mustering enough courage for taking a brief sojourn to their roots. Also, despite what the local media in Kashmir may project, Kashmiri Muslims at their individual levels are renewing their contacts with the displaced community. On their return from a brief visit to the valley many displaced Kashmiri Pandits speak about the discernable change of heart in the local Muslims. Some even suggest the preparedness of the local Muslims for apologizing to the displaced Pandits for the injustice committed against them.

A few months back some sort of brouhaha was created when the erstwhile spokesperson of All Party Hurriat Conference, Saleem Geelani, offered apologies to displaced Kashmiri Pandits on behalf of Kashmiri Muslims during a seminar organized by Roots in Kashmir in Jammu. Many agencies, with vested interests, and including some Kashmiri Pandits lose no time in branding these incidents as the indications of changing times in Kashmir. It may also be true that the times have indeed changed in Kashmir. But, does it necessarily mean the conditions have become so much conducive for the return of displaced Pandits that these demand a complete about turn of the very fundamentals that have driven and sustained the community’s struggle in exile.

One question that needs to be debated and understood is if these individual expressions of remorse carry any meaning? Alternatively, one also needs to ask a question if any institutionalized apology by the Kashmiri Muslims would tantamount to atonement of their sins. Displaced Kashmiri Pandits will have to be carefully guarded in responding to these hollow apologies, which will increase in numbers in the times to come. They need ask themselves a question which Marina Warner a renowned novelist and critic raised some time back, “Is apology today’s new political enthusiasm?”

This is also a fact that there is nothing new in the recent apologies made by certain Kashmiri Muslims. Various influential Kashmiri Muslim individuals and leaders have in past publicly apologized to the displaced Pandits in public. Only difference being that earlier the recipients didn’t see any significant in these otiose pronouncements. The process of offering apologies to displaced Pandits, perhaps, started in the year 1999, when during course of a huge international conference at The Hague, the Hurriat delegation offered to publicly apologize for the crimes committed against the Pandit. Panun Kashmir delegation attending the conference didn’t attach any significance to that and thought the gesture was only dictated by political expediency.

Some years later, the late Ashok Kak assembled a galaxy of Kashmiri Separatist leaders including Shabbir Shah and Omar Farooq in a first ever post 1990, across the table interaction with displaced Pandits. The proceedings of that meeting went on the expected lines with the Pandits vociferously expressing their anger and the Muslims trying to strike reconciliatory notes. The general sentiments of the Kashmiri Muslim leadership at that time also were overwhelmingly apologetic.

Nothing significant emerged from the said meeting as, perhaps, the reconciliatory tones were more a produce of head than the genuine outpouring of the heart. The deceit, cunningness and the rabid fundamentalist mindset behind their extirpation also might have heavily weighed in the minds of the Pandit participants, who dismissed the developments as part of a politics.
Some time later, in the year 2005, an interaction was held, in Motel Ashok Jammu, between groups of Kashmiri Muslim leaders with displaced Kashmiri Pandit representatives which included Dr. K.L. Chowdhury, a senior Panun Kashmir leader. It was during this meeting that a former militant and then mainstream politician Babbar Badr expressed his guilt, neglect and repentance for the sorry state of displaced community. It was around same time when during a seminar on Kashmir held in Jammu University, Babbar Badr, on his own and Kashmiri Muslims’ behalf sought hand folded forgiveness from Panun Kashmir Convener, Dr. Agnishekhar.

Apology as an instrument of reconciliation has become an important tool internationally. There seems to be an unprecedented rush to offer apologies in the belief of creating benchmarks for acknowledging the wrongs took place. Whether, such apologies can become harbingers of progress towards restoring the mutual trust between the warring societies is, however, debatable. In the aftermath of Virginia (USA) legislators voting unanimously, early this year, to express profound regrets over Old Dominion’s role in promoting slavery, Senator Henry L. Marsh 111 expressed that he foresaw “no true progress in this country until we get a reconciliation and honest dialogue about race and slavery.” The same applies to politics of Kashmiri Muslim apologies as well, as no bridges can ever be built without an honest and dispassionate admission of conspiracy that forced an exodus of three hundred and fifty thousand ethnic aborigines from Kashmir.

There are also inherent dangers associated with the act of apologies as these can be effectively used to block the chances of a conflict free future. John Torpey in “The Entrepreneurs of Memory” strongly asks if the world wide concern with public apology represents a turning of society’s face towards the past and on that closes the possibility of imagining a better future. He further asks, “Isn’t there a danger that struggling to redress history will become a substitute for working a better future?” Marina Warner even goes to the length of suggesting, “Too many crimes have been committed in the name of future for us to rise to the call of apology.”

In response to the powerful presentation made by the Dr. Agnishekhar at the Prime Minister’s 1st Round Table Conference on Kashmir, Mufti Mohd. Sayed made a telling statement of the times by saying, “I am ashamed at what was done to Pandits. It is a national shame and ‘Hum iske liye sharminda hai.’ Mufti Sayed may have tried to score points then but one can’t be but be amused at his worthless statement. Those who get impressed by these apologies must understand the politics behind the same and should not forget that there was no succor for displaced Pandits in Mufti’s healing touch policy. Having been a union home minister and also a chief minister, Mufti can’t have been ignorant about no justice being possible without reparation. Nahla Valji commenting upon the proceedings of Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa rightly argues that, “reconciliation is ultimately linked to reparation and implies that without the later one can find neither justice nor closure.” In case of Kashmiri Pandits reparation can only be the recognition of their claim over a separate homeland in Kashmir.

Speaking at a seminar held last year during Summit of the Powerless, Omar Adullah strongly advocated setting up of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Kashmir on the similar lines as was done in post apartheid South Africa. True, the South African endeavor apparently seemed to have succeeded in its mission; however, recent reports have exposed some glaring omissions, which raise serious questions on the sincerity of purpose behind the whole process. Considering the inherent prejudice that Kashmiri Muslims have historically nurtured against the Pandits, will any commission be able to truthfully serve its terms of reference? Moreover, will the prevailing political and social dispensation in Kashmir ever allow setting up of honest and just terms of reference for any commission, which seeks dispense justice to the displaced community?

As mentioned earlier, Kashmiri Muslims will continue apologizing to the Pandits. The central question here is what that apology will actually indicate or achieve? Last year, during a two day seminar, Kashmir Imbroglio: Perspective, held in India Peace Center, Nagpur, Hurriat delegation led by their then spokesperson Saleem Geelani profusely expressed their regrets and sorry for whatever was inflicted upon the Pandits. Saleem Geelani even went to the extent of seeking forgiveness from the Panun Kashmir delegation comprising of Dr. Agnishekhar and Ramesh Manvati. The idea of an apology will definitely have an emotional appeal to many Pandits. But, what needs to be understood is that politics of symbolism must be isolated from the politics of substance, and then only the justice can be delivered.

The apologies from the very people who are the perpetrators of worst crimes against the humanity will only be symbolic and dictated by sheer political expediency. The apologies carry no weight or conviction as these are backed by a constructed mind set which welcomes the displaced persons as tourists and conspires against their permanent return. A testimony at the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission stated, “We won’t say these perpetrators give us their money but they must give us some thing to show they are sorry.” Kashmiri Muslims can’t return lost seventeen years to the displaced Pandits but they need to give them some thing to show they are sorry. Kashmiri Pandits would be satisfied with a small portion of land on which they can give shape to their dreams and aspirations.


Kamal Hak is a political analyst and a columnist. He as well is a senior leader of Panun Kashmir. Hak resides in Noida and can be contacted at kamalhak[@]

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sankalp yatra Pilgrimage to raise awareness to the Kashmir issue

The Panun Kashmir Movement (PKM) is organising a 7,000 kilometre pilgrimage, the Sankalp Yatra, to continue the struggle for Kashmir to become the homeland of the Kashmir Pandits. The two-month journey is to start in November, according to a PKM’s official, visiting 41 places in nine states and two union territories of India.

Members of Panun Kashmir Movement (PKM) meeting United Nations Observer's in Srinagaer, Kashmir.

Among the important sites are the Pandit refugee camps in Jammu and Kashmir, where large-scale supporters are due to join the journey.The Yatra also expects to visit the birth and work places of four prominent Indian political figures in history: Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Dr. K.B. Hedgewar and Lokmanya Tilak; and will also meet with several politicians and leaders of India. Religious sites will also be visited to bless the pilgrimage.
Another goal of the pilgrimage is to raise awareness to the human rights violations and displacement of the Pandits in the area, at the same time as it seeks the affiliation with the younger generations to educate them about the values that may ensure the establishment of the Pandit Kashmir. Material support such as books, folders, and photographs are planned to be taken along the trip for the dissemination of the Pandit Kashmir cause.
PKM leader, Ashwani Kumar Churangoo, is said to have stated that the Yatra focus not only on the Kashmir issue and terrorism, exodus and displacement of Kashmiri Pandits, but as well on other minorities of Kashmir, their present status, and the human rights situation of minorities in the Jammu and Kashmir state. He reportedly encouraged the Kashmir Sikh Displaced Forum to join the event.
The Pandit leadership is hoping that the Sankalp Yatra will trigger solidarity among the people of the Pandit Kashmir and the Indian people. They are expecting to gather more political support from the Indian government for a viable solution in the establishment of the homeland of the Pandit community in Kashmir.


Courtesy: Global Human Rights Defense (G.H.R.D.) & Panun Kashmir Movement (P.K.M.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Hurriyat behind the Ajmer Blasts? (A TOI Report)

Ajmer blast trail leads to Hurriyat

NEW DELHI: Security agencies are questioning Hurriyat leader G M Bhat, an associate of hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, and two of his accomplices in connection with the recent Ajmer blast. Cops have gathered vital details of Bhat’s links with the terror network in Pakistan and the Middle East. Sources said strong pointers to the Hurriyat leader’s links with terror fund managers have emerged after raids were carried out on his residences in Delhi and Srinagar.
The interrogation of his aides, Jamali Khan and Danish Anwar, who were apprehended in Udhampur on Sunday while ferrying a consignment of Rs 50 lakh to the Valley from Delhi, have strengthened these suspicions. Bhat has already served two years for hawala operations. He had been caught with Rs 10 lakh received through the extensive hawala network that serves the secessionists in the Valley. Bhat is a member of the Geelani faction of the Hurriyat Conference and is considered as the closest aide of the separatist leader. Jamali and Anwar had worked together in the Ajmer branch of the Bombay Mercantile Bank. Anwar still works as a peon at the bank while Jamali was its branch manager till 2002, when he shifted base to Delhi and started operating as a hawala dealer. Both hail from UP.

The Deobandi connection of the duo is also being probed as Jamali belongs to Deoband in Saharanpur where the religious seminary is headquartered. Anwar is from neighbouring Bijnour district. Investigaters suspect the two were initiated into the jihadi network early in life and may have connections with terror modules in western UP and in other parts of the country.

(Even Yasin Malik has several Hawala cases pending against him)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Poetic Justice

Aenem Soy vavem sooy lagem soy panesey...
(I brought seeds of poision ivy,sowed them,it got around only to devour me)

In our last post titled”The New Paradigms” we had mentioned how Geelani was punched in his own backyard by the very people whom the media fondly calls”moderate separatists”.It was probably an indication of what was to come from some other moderates around us.

Gen Musharraf an avid supporter of “freedom movements” from Chechyna to Plaestine to Kashmir is busy quelling “terrorists and extremists”in his own nation.The new Kamal Attaturk is leaving no stone unturned in crushing every voice of extremism,be it Asma Jehangir or Aitzaz Ahsan. Every institution or individual who he sees as a threat to “enlightened moderation” is already rendered powerless. He wont rest until his version of enlightened moderation illuminates the Pakistan.In order to fulfil the divine dream of the Quaid he has even let off 29 misguided Talibs in Exchange for 200 odd demoralised and kidnapped Pakistani troops. Pakistan is so much in news for all the wrong reasons. So for us to add any news would only be a repetition.

As pandemonium looms large in Pakistan , the ivy poison has assumed the form of snake which is in the process of devouring the very masters who sowed its seeds.
Poetic Justice,we presume.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Lashkar Act I by Andrew Whitehead

My mission as a historian of Kashmir started 10 years ago at the St Joseph's mission in Baramulla. There I met Sister Emilia, an Italian nun who had lived in Kashmir since 1933, and heard her first-hand account of one of the defining moments in South Asia's modern history. She was the last survivor at St Joseph's of the attack by armed Pathan tribesmen in October 1947."There were rumours that they were coming; we were thinking they won't do nothing to us," she told me. "The Monday after the feast of Christ the King they reached here. Then they started to shoot. We were working still. The hospital had patients. They were on the veranda of the hospital, going from one ward to another."Sister Emilia offered a window on to a deeply contested episode—a moment that was slipping out of living memory.
The invaders, who decades later were still disturbing her dreams, had been encouraged to enter Kashmir by elements in the Pakistan establishment to claim the Muslim-majority, Hindu-ruled princely state for Islam and Pakistan.I urgently sought out others who had lived through the attack. In England, Tom Dykes told me how he was awoken on that Monday morning by the sound of gunfire. He was five years old. He and some nuns sought refuge in a locked room at the convent hospital, but the attackers started to batter down the door. "The splinters started to fly, and I could see the wild faces through the cracks. At the back of the room there was another door, and it was not locked and I ran." His parents were among the six people killed in the attack; he and his two younger brothers survived.In Baramulla town, a man who in 1947 had pro-Pakistan sympathies recalled how the mood had turned against the invaders. "They provided me with a guard, one of the tribal men," he told me, his sense of outrage still undimmed. "After two days, they looted me also!"
An elderly Sikh woman recounted how her three female cousins, all then teenagers like her, had been abducted and never heard of since.A journalist colleague in the North West Frontier Province succeeded in tracking down a veteran of the tribal lashkar. "We were asked by the Pir of Manki Sharif to come and fight," said Khan Shah Afridi. "He told us we should not be afraid—it is a war between Muslims and infidels and we will get Kashmir freed. We shot whoever we saw in Baramulla. We forced Hindus to run for their lives."
These voices offered compelling testimony about how Kashmir first came to be in the grip of conflict. It was a human perspective to what so often is presented as a dispute about territory. And there was a remarkable conjunction of dates—the day on which the tribal fighters ransacked St Joseph's, October 27, 1947, was also the day that the first ever Indian troops landed in Kashmir.Scouring through the archives, further remarkable testimony came to light. A missionary priest had set down by hand in an old desk diary a vivid account of the attack on Baramulla. I was perhaps the first person apart from the author to have read it.
Old copies of the Hindustan Times and the Times of India revealed how Sheikh Abdullah and his supporters set up an armed militia to defend Srinagar—and in recent months, I have met Kashmiri men and women who served in that force.These rich historical sources help answer questions about how the invaders were organised, why they failed to capitalise on local disenchantment with the maharaja, and why they were unable, in spite of initial military superiority, to capture Srinagar. The events of those few days 60 years ago have moulded the region's political geography—it's a story too important to be left to the official chroniclers.
If the Kashmir dispute had ever been settled, then an account of how the conflict first flared up would be of academic value only.But it remains one of the world's most enduring geopolitical faultlines, compounded by the rise of Islamic radicalism and by the nuclear power status of both principal parties. Partisan history has been part of the problem.
The Kashmir issue has been snagged by an almost theological reiteration, from one perspective or another, of the events of 1947. It's as if, in Delhi and Islamabad (less so in Srinagar), there's a feeling that if we can argue that our side was right 60 years ago, then it vindicates our approach to Kashmir ever since.Yet it's difficult to see how any crisis can be settled unless it is first understood, or how it can be understood without a grasp of how it started. Once you begin to look at the complexities of the past, simple solutions no longer seem to make so much sense. And once those who care about Kashmir start to agree on a common narrative of the valley's modern history, then broader agreement may not be too far away.
(Andrew Whitehead's account of the origins of the Kashmir conflict, Mission in Kashmir, is published this month by Penguin India.)