Saturday, May 2, 2009

Migrant Kashmiri Pandit voter number halved in 12 years (IANS)
New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) The number of voters among Kashmiri Pandit migrants has dropped “considerably”, from nearly 150,000 in 1996 to just 71,000 presently - a 52 percent dip.
In 1996 there were 147,000 voters among the migrants all over the country, in 2002 the number went down to 117,000 and during the assembly elections last year it was only 71,000, according to the Roots in Kashmir (RIK), a migrant Kashmiri Pandits’ organisation.
Kashmiri Hindus were forced to flee their homeland when Muslim militancy erupted two decades ago in Jammu and Kashmir.
Some 300,000 Pandits fled the Kashmir Valley from 1989 as Muslim militancy peaked, at times targeting members of the community.
Today, most of them live in Jammu, New Delhi, Chandigarh, Bangalore and Mumbai. Only about 3,000 still reside in the valley.
Angry over the “considerable drop” in the number of Pandit voters, the RIK accused the Election Commission of discriminating against them “in connivance with the Jammu and Kashmir government”.
“At a time when voter registration is just a click away, the Election Commission in connivance with the state (government) is making the processes tedious for us so as to ensure that we don’t get a basic human right,” said Ranish Hangloo, a young activist of the RIK.
He said polling facilities for the exiled Pandits were only available in two cities and the migrants living in towns other than Delhi and Jammu “don’t get to vote”.
The Election Commission “expects us to fly to Delhi or Jammu to vote” he said.
The RIK is organising a silent sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar in the capital Sunday against the “discrimination”.
“It is to erase us from geographical horizon of Kashmir, from mind-spaces, voter lists, ration cards so that one day we can no longer claim to be Kashmiris,” said an angry Sanjay Peshin, the chief coordinator of the RIK.
The RIK is demanding that voting procedure for the migrants be simplified to ensure their 100 percent participation in the democratic process.
The exiled Pandits are required to fill what is called an M-form (migration form) to be included in the voters’ list. “When photo identity cards could be made for the Pandit voters, the M-form system should be deleted to make the process simpler,” Peshin said.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Elections for India:Exile for us

India Votes but the Pandits don’t get to.

1.47 lac voters in 1996; 1.17 lac in 2002 and 0.71 lac in 2008.

At a time when registering as a voter is a mere mouse click away, the Election Commission in connivance with the State is making the most tedious processes for Kashmiri Pandits so as to ensure that we don’t even get a basic human right.

While separatists get to election fray the Pandits are once again marginalised. With polling facilities in only two cities in India the State ensures that 50,000 Pandits living in towns other than Delhi and Jammu don’t get to vote. While others get a day off to vote, Pandits are expected to take an off and fly to Delhi or Jammu to vote.

It is but a part of the larger process to erase Kashmir's indigenous people not just from geographical horizon of Kashmir but from mind-spaces, voter lists, ration cards so that one day Pandits can no longer claim to be Kashmiris.

On Sunday, 3rd of May,09 we will all register our protest at Silent sit at Jantar Mantar, near Cannought Place, New Delhi at 3:30 pm.

The nation votes and we wonder about our Voter ID cards.

Elections for India, Exile for us!

For More Information please contact:

Amal Magazine:9873900479

Ashish Zutshi:09811600264

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Election Farce,Sajjad Lone etc

Che Kamyu Kareneay taveez pan
Yaaro van bale yaaro van

Who hath cast thy spell on thou?
Speak up my friend, speak up

Wahab Khar the 18th Century poet probably had the power to see future. How else does one explain the above verse unless he knew that Sajjad Lone, the most vociferous of the separatists would one day take a U-turn (strategic not ideological-let us laugh over it) and join the election fray. Intrigue has always been a part of Kashmir’s history and Kashmir’s leaders have more often that not been treacherous and perfidious. Sajjad Lone can be no exception.

After all he is following in the footsteps of his illustrious father who was first a minister in the Govt.of Jammu and Kashmir and then when the tide of separatism engulfed the valley he too changed his colours and became a separatist. As they say in Kashmir, Once a turncoat always a turncoat. Abdul Ghani Lone was about to don his old colours when the rival separatist gangs got a whiff of it and killed him. Sajjad and Bilal had a chance to speak up then but then the fear of death at the hands of terrorists had the better of them. If you can’t beat them join them.

Bilal joined the Hurriyat Conference while Sajjad kept to his People’s Conference because the Hurriyat did not want him amongst them. They were wary of him for various reasons, the primary being his proximity to some sections of the Indian Establishment. Sajjad who spends more time outside the valley found support from the liberal media and some sections of chatterati and thus was propelled to the national television screens as a “a separatist leader”. It was of little consequence that he enjoyed little or no support at the ground. His English speaking abilities and his suave ways became his passport for leadership. It is another matter that he was a leader because of his connections with the Editors of English News Channels.

Then came his big moment! The Amarnath agitation divided the state of Jammu and Kashmir like never before.The Govt of Jammu and Kashmir cancelled the temporary allocation of land which led to protests in Jammu.Sajjad Lone scoffed Arnab Goswami,”Are you comparing the agitation in a few Mohallas in Jammu to that of a Pan-Kashmir Agitation”.When the agitation in Jammu further gained ground he told Rajdeep Sardesai”We should give one and half district to Jammu and live peacefully”. It all reached a crescendo when he shouted at Dr.Jitendra Singh in Barkha Dutt’s programme that the land row is settled, all that is to be settled is Azadi.He even wanted Jitender Singh’s mike to be muted.

He was arrogant and rude to say the least. He was so vocal about his being Kashmiri separatist that he forgot that he is human too. He rubbed many people the wrong way.

Soon the elections were around the corner. The separatists including him gave a boycott call but a determined Election Commission went ahead with the election schedule. He was once again the most vocal face of the boycotters. Even on the day when the first phase figures came out and when 64% electorate had polled in he told Arnab Goswami” One Swallow does not make a spring. Wait there still is six more phases”. Meanwhile his sister Shabnam Lone too stood for elections. He swore by the Holy Quran that he had nothing to do with her candidature. He said, he did not support the farce called elections. He renewed his calls for boycott and his sister lost.

The Election Results were announced. Sajjad Lone was forlorn and dejected. He seemed to have lost the guftaar (the art of conversation) though he still maintained that he did not regret his decision to boycott polls. He was suddenly seen biting dust. He called for introspection but then who would have thought that this would be introspection. His introspection will be to swear in the name of the Indian Constitution. Whether he represents Kashmir in India or India in Kashmir is mere semantics. Doesn’t Sharad Pawar represent Maharashtra in India and India in Maharashtra?

A word is due to our columnists who see this as some “paradigm shift” in the politics of Kashmir, those who believe that Lone is a “moderate voice” among the separatists and for those who believed that his “Achievable Freedom Document” was some Godsend solution to Kashmir. It is time for them to spend some more time in Kashmir and go beyond what they see from their Shikara’s. It is time for them to talk to normal Kashmiris and know what the Lone U-turn means. It is time that they stop bullshitting and telling us that in the last assembly elections the Kashmiris voted for Bijli,Sadak,Paani and not for India.Do they think we are so dumb as to believe that all these years Kashmiris did not need Bijli,sadak and Paani.Go drink some paani from Chasme Shahi in Kashmir.It is believed to have medicinal values that cures brain disorders.

One just hopes that the establishment lets the elections be free and fair and does not in any way or form aid the candidature of Sajjad Lone. It is only then that we would know how much of a leader Sajjad is outside the studios of TV Channels. Only time will tell whether he is elected or not or whether the Indian Establishment covertly gets him to the Parliament or not. What we know for sure is that he represents himself and himself alone in Kashmir as well as India. Seldom has a Kashmiri leader represented anyone but himself and Lone can not be alone in this.