Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I didn't know what to say to her

I went to my grandma's room to wish her goodnight. As soon as i wished her, she said, "meh chha ni yivaan az nindriyi. Meyi pyav az garr yaad. Mei pyav az soruy yaad. Goldy aesis kauchh kyath tulaan toopyi dith ti aesis gooris khaaraan". (I am unable to sleep. I was thinking about our home (Kashmir). I was thinking about how I used to cover Goldy's head and go to milkman and fetch milk.)

I didn't know what to say to her.

And, then she said, "vall vanyi, yath gaam ni gasun, tamyuk naav kya hyon".
(Anyway, why talk about a place where we know we can never go)
- Sumathi Thusso on Facebook

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Dhimmis of Kashmir

Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection. (Qur’an chapter 9 verse 29)


While I am a Kashmiri Pandit by birth, my initial education due to my dad’s nature of job happened outside Kashmir. When we finally went back to Kashmir (to be thrown out again few years later), the place was full of surprises and shocks. Kashmir was odd; it was a place where I was treated differently because of my religion. I as a kid always used to wonder why, and how did they figure out that I am a Kashmiri Pandit and not a Muslim boy. The mystery was soon solved, when I figured out that there was a clear-cut differentiation in the dress worn by Pandits and Muslims. Even the dresses which were common, there were distinctive features to identify the Kashmiri Pandit. The Islamic rulers had made changes in the designs of turbans and pherans (Long, commodious apron worn by Kashmiri men and women) and the same even continues till date. While caps replaced the turbans, the pherans are still very much used in Kashmir and Pandit Pherans have a distinct fold at the knees, identifying them as Pandits or should I say, Dhimmis.
During the course of time, I discovered something called Dhimmis, and while it shocked me, I could clearly see that we the Kashmiri Pandits were being treated as Dhimmis. What does Dhimmi mean? Dhimmis are non Islamic minorities in a Muslim majority state, living in a recognized subordinate legal status. If I put it simply, Dhimmis are second grade citizens.

The Islam prohibits the Dhimmis and minorities from:
1.      Wearing clothes that do not make them recognizable
2.    Constructing big houses or owning estates
3.      Marrying Muslim women
4.      Holding important public positions
5.      Practising their religion in public & constructing religious structures

Yes, with modernisation these restrictions have somewhat eased in rest of the world, but not in an important state of the Socialist, Secular Republic of India, the state of Jammu & Kashmir. The Kashmiri Pandits have been facing persecution for many centuries and have been treated as Dhimmis by both barbaric Islamic rulers and the elected representatives of Kashmir in free India.

Immediately after coming to power in 1947, Mohammed Sheikh Abdullah, the then Prime Minister and grandfather of the current CM immediately implemented the first principle of Dhimmi code. He confiscated the lands of Kashmiri Pandits and redistributed them for free to the Muslims of the state. This was done under the garb of ‘Land for Tiller act’ and surprisingly implemented with full vigour in the Kashmir Valley only, where the Hindus are in minority.

The Kashmiri Pandits persecution qualifies Dhimmi treatment in every sense. The Pandits are not allowed to hold any important political post and for last few decades not even a single Kashmiri Pandit has been given election ticket by the Muslim dominated parties of Kashmir. The Kashmiri Pandits are not even nominated to the upper house of the legislature and making them a minister is not even a dream that can be seen.

I remember last year the CM of Kashmir, Omar Abdullah tried scoring political point by criticising Narendra Modi for not giving election ticket to any Muslim in his state. On being confronted, on how many Kashmiri Pandits were given tickets by Omar Abdullah’s party, the CM had no answer.

While I was in the valley, honestly I do not remember any Kashmiri Pandit boy marrying a Kashmiri Muslim girl. Yes, I knew many falling for each other but never marrying. The Kashmiri Pandit boy knew that if he dared to marry a Muslim girl, not only him but his entire family would be butchered. While on the contrary it was quite common to kidnap a Pandit girl and forcefully marry and convert her. In the famous Parmeshwari case, such was the open discrimination that even the state machinery ensured the parents do not meet the girl; alas the truth may come out.

The persecution of minorities reached to such an extent that the Muslim fanatics openly started killing the minorities and raping their women. By Jan 1990 almost every Pandit home in Kashmir was on the hit list of Islamic fanatics, and its prominent personalities were assassinated almost every day. The Dhimmis of Kashmir were warned to move out the valley or get killed. The common slogan of the Muslim fanatics was “we want Kashmir without Hindus but with their women”.

The Muslim majority govt of the valley turned a blind eye to these atrocities or pleaded helplessness. And by the first few weeks of 1990, the entire Kashmir valley was bereft of its only prominent minority, the Kashmiri Pandits.  The exodus of the Pandits saw the execution of the last principle of Dhimmi law, prohibition of minority religious practice and destruction of minority religious institutions. Slowly the temples are being desecrated and lands belonging to these temples are being forcefully taken over. Many prominent temples are in ruins and efforts to rebuild them are seeing resistance from the fanatic population of the valley. As usual, the Muslim controlled government of the valley is also ensuring that the lands are usurped by the Muslims land mafia and all the symbols of Hinduism are wiped out.

The Kashmiri Pandits now almost for a decade have been trying to push “Temple & Shrine Bill” to save their religious institutions. The bill just asks for an institution similar to Muslim Aukaf Trust, which allows Muslims to run their religious institutions in a better and safe way.

The mentality of not providing religious freedom has made the state government form innovate ways to block the bill. Constant request, appeals and protest have fallen to deaf ear. The mindset of denying the minority of their religious right can be gauged from the actions of Mustafa Kamal, the senior member of the ruling party and uncle of the current CM, Omar Abdullah. Mustafa Kamal wants an amendment to the bill, where he wants the amendment to include Muslims to be part of running and managing Hindu Temples. Now the bill has been send to a standing committee for further study, almost after 8 years of it being introduced in the legislature.

With such delaying tactics, the government of Kashmir has reconfirmed that few mind-sets just don’t change. And yes, even in a Hindu majority, secular nation like India, Dhimmis do exist.