Kashmiri Pandits hold protest
Staff Reporter, The Hindu
NEW DELHI: Kashmiri Pandits belonging to various organisations staged a protest in the Capital on Friday to seek the intervention of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon by declaring them as internally displaced persons.
They have appealed to the UN Secretary General to take cognisance of their plight as more than “400,000 of them have had to leave their homes in the Valley to escape persecution”.
Organisations that participated in the protest included Roots in Kashmir, Panun Kashmir, Kashmiri Samiti Delhi, Internally Displaced Kashmiri Pandit Youth Front, All-India Kashmiri Samaj, Jammu Kashmir Vichar Manch, All State Kashmiri Pandit Conference, Panun Kashmir Youth Front, Kashmiri Pandit United Forum and Jammu and Kashmir National United Front.
According to Roots in Kashmir coordinator, Aditya Raj Kaul, over 50,000 of Pandit refugees are living in pathetic conditions in refugee camps even after 19 years of mass exodus.
“The Pandit community believes that successive Union and State governments have failed to protect their human rights. Moreover, human rights organisations have failed to highlight violation of their rights. Some of the demands of Kashmiri Pandits to the UN include ensuring adequate protection to the residual Kashmiri Hindu population currently living in the Valley,” added Mr. Kaul.
Stating that restoration of Kashmiri Hindus’ political and economic rights in their State was an important demand, Mr. Kaul said this would give them equal status rather than a second class citizenship in their native land as share of jobs for them in bureaucracy, State supported professional educational institutes and the representation in the State Assembly has steadily diminished in the past two decades.
Link - http://www.hindu.com/2008/11/01/stories/2008110153670400.htm
Pandits demand recognition as Internally Displaced Persons
New Delhi, Oct 31: Demanding that they be declared as Internally Displaced Persons, a group of Kashmiri Pandits on Friday held a protest here seeking intervention of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in the matter.
The Pandits belonging to various organisations submitted a memorandum to Moon, who is on a two-day visit to India. They appealed to Moon to take cognisance of the plight of Pandits who had to leave their homes in the valley.
Even 19 years after the mass exodus, more than 50,000 of these Kashmiri Pandit refugees are living in "pathetic conditions in uninhabitable refugee camps", they said.
They alleged that successive Central and state governments had failed in protecting their rights. They also demanded the government set up a 'Commission of Enquiry' to establish the causes that led to the killings of Kashmiri Pandits.
Link - http://www.zeenews.com/articles.asp?aid=480065&sid=NAT
Kashmiri Pandits demand 'internally displaced persons' status
Kashmiri Pandits held a silent sit in protest outside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office here Friday, demanding that the community, which fled the Kashmir Valley during the peak of militancy 20 years ago, be declared as internally displaced persons (IDPs).
The community represented by Kashmiri youth organisations in the capital like Roots in Kashmir, Internally Displaced Youth Front, Panun Kashmir, All India Kashmir Samaj, and others, along with elderly members of the community in Delhi, presented a five-page memorandum of their demands to Nayona Bose of the UNHCR to be forwarded to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who is on a two-day visit to India.
We welcome the UN secretary on his visit to India. As a community we, therefore, appeal to him to help us - declare the Kashmiri Hindu community as IDPs, Lalit Ambardar, 35, a qualified engineer who was one of the 100-odd protestors, told IANS.
The Human Rights Working Group on Minorities in Geneva had recognised Kashmiri Hindus formally as a 'reverse minority'. So the use of the insulting term of 'migrants' for us - a forcibly exiled community - should be removed from all records and communications relating to us henceforth, Ambardar chorused the protestor's demand.
Many others protestors were angry about the state to which Kashmiri Hindus have been reduced since insurgency in the Kashmir Valley in 1989-90, when more that 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits fled their homes to escape persecution.
Historically, Kashmiri Pandits were known to be intellectuals, but now we are rotting away - we are a national waste - we have no political representation, have no geographic ethnicity that we can claim as our own! fumed Raj Raina, 37.
Raina was unable to get a government job owing to his 'migrant' status. He is now self-employed and runs a small printing press.
When I was forced to leave my home in the Valley, militants threatened us time and again - merge with us (with political and religious views), perish or vanish, Raina recapitulated memories of the insurgency.
Amongst those present from the community were varsity students, who also held that the current situation was sordid.
Calling us migrants implies that we had a choice in the matter, when we were actually forced to flee, said Aditya Raj Kaul, a 22-year-old student activist from Delhi University.
We have demanded in the memorandum that the UN direct the Indian government to ensure adequate protection to the residual Kashmiri Hindu population living in the Valley. Also that Kashmiri Hindus be restored political and economic rights, giving them equal status rather than second-class citizenship in their native land, Kaul informed.
Link - http://news.webindia123.com/news/articles/World/20081031/1092947.html
Kashmiri Pandits submit memorandum to UN
Aastha Manocha, Indian Express
New Delhi, October 31: A joint delegation of up to ten Kashmiri Pandit groups submitted a memorandum to UN General Secretary Ban-Ki-Moon, who is visiting India, regarding their demands, which include, to be declared as IDPs Internally Displaced Persons.
The joint memorandum was handed over to the UNHCR Associate External Relations officer Nayana Bose by Dr. SS Toshkhani, a noted Kashmiri Pandit scholar, and other community elders while others held banners depicting their plight and highlighting their demands.
We fulfill nearly all the criterion there is for Internally Displaced Person yet we have not been accorded this status due to the Indian government’s own inhibitions, said Mr. Rakesh Gurkha, a Kashmiri Pandit. We do not want any money but we want our demands to be met, he added.
Elaborating on the memorandum, Mr. Sushil Pandit, another community member present there, said, “we told the officer that we are a community of over 50, 000 plus people who have been displaced from their homes more for almost two decades now and want to be declared an IDP as we fit all the criteria set by the UN and other organizations for human rights. In fact, in some of its reports, we (Kashmiri Pandits) have been mentioned.”
Internally Displaced Persons are people who have been forced to flee because their lives were in danger but unlike refugees didn’t cross any international border.
According to The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), established in 1998 by the Norwegian Refugee Council ‘Internally Displaced Persons are people who have been forced to flee because their lives were in danger but unlike refugees didn’t cross any international border.’
It also goes on to add that while refugees get more international attention the international community is not under any obligation to look after the IDPs hence the onus often lies with the government itself to look after the IDPs. However, they are often found lacking in this respect.
An example of this is India itself, as after accepting the Pandits’ memorandum Ms Bose made it clear that the UNHCR has no role with Internally Displaced Persons in India.
‘By mandate, UNHCR works for refugees and in some countries, on invitation by sovereign governments, with internally displaced populations.’
Link - http://www.kashmirlive.com/story/Kashmiri-Pandits-submit-memorandum-to-UN/379855.html