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.