Tag Archives: kashmiri hindus

When will the Kashmiri Hindus return home

Lalit Shastri

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Kashmiri Pandits in Houston in September 2019

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had told a delegation of Kashmiri Hindus in Houston in September 2019 that the wind of change is blowing and now there would be a new Kashmir for everyone.

The Kashmiri Pandit diaspora had responded by extending support to the Modi government and expressed hope that they could return to their homeland. Now it is time for the Modi Government to meet the pledge.

After the abrogation of Article 370 and J&K Reorganisation Act of 2019, the Kashmiri Hindus,  have looked for definite resolution of  three main issues:
1.encroachment of their immovable property;
2.return to their homes; and
3.Prosecution of the perpetrators of the exodus and those who had usurped their property.

The Jammu and Kashmir Migrant Immovable Property (Preservation, Protection and Restraint On Distress Sales) Act 1997 was enacted to protect properties of migrants who had left the state after November 1989 due to threat followed by loot, arson, rape and murder by terrorists, who were joined by the radicalised Islamists in driving out the Kashmiri Hindus from their homes to change the demographic character of the population in Kashmir on religious grounds. Irony is that there was zero enforcement of this Act.

After the enactment of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, the Centre last year
Amended the Jammu and Kashmir Migrant Immovable Property Act passed by the J&K Legislature in 1997, and through a notification it has empowered the Competent Authority to take suo moto action to evict unauthorized occupants of property left behind by Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir valley during their forced exodus in 1989-1990.

Now it is for the Centre, with the the Union Territory status of J&K to guarantee the safe return of Kashmiri Hindus, restore their properties and act swiftly against the illegal occupiers and encroachers – something successive State Governments have failed to do.

Before the reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir.and abrogation of Article 370, about 1500 displaced Kashmiri Hindu youth were given employment.and settled in special camps under a special employment scheme  between 2008 and 2015. After Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist, Burhan Wani was eliminated by the security forces, these camps of the Kashmiri Hindus were targetted and there was heavy stone pelting by the entrenched locals. As a result most of the Kashmiri Hindu Youth fled from the valley.

The Modi led Indian Government should take a cue from Israel and without wasting time resettle the Kashmiri Hindus in specially created secure and well guarded settlements that could range in character from farming communities to frontier villages to urban suburbs and neighborhoods. Now onward, every terrorist act in Kashmir should be be followed up by the Government and it should go into the overdrive mode and settle new migrants – mostly young persons – after giving them compulsory military training. The new settlers in the valley should be brought from different parts of India in hundreds of thousands with the promise of jobs and security. Besides Kashmiri Hindus, ex-servicemen and serving defence personnel posted in Kashmir also should be made residents in large numbers to counter the threat of terrorists from Pakistan. Though it would be wrong to draw a parallel, still one would like to cite the example of Bhopal, where the majority Muslim population was supporting the Nawab, when he was refusing to sign the instrument of accession at the time of Independence. The atmosphere in the city had remained vitiated and was highly polarised on communal grounds for several years but slowly, once the demography of the city got altered after it became the capital of the reorganised State of Madhya Pradesh in 1956, things began to stabilise. Still there were communal pockets to disturb peace and this got amply exposed when Bhopal was set on fire by the radicalised Islamists in 1992 after the demolition of the Babri structure. During President’s Rule that followed, it was the then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao, who took the decision to dismiss the democratically elected MP government for failure to control the riots and a few months later he even went ahead and dismissed the State Governor Kunwar Mehmood Ali Khan since he was most brazenly communalising the Bhopal Police stations after this had been pointed out by me in an exclusive news report. The next Governor of Madhya Pradesh Mohammad Shafi Qureshi, a Kashmiri, had devoted himself towards ensuring Madhya Pradesh turns into a state where there is maximum peace and communal amity and this was achieved with the help of a committed uniformed police force and its most able leadership.

BJP promise to scrap Article 370 and Article 35A: J&K leaders stand exposed

Lalit Shastri

Farooq Abdullah

Leaders like National Conference Chief Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah, and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti – all of them former Chief Ministers of Jammu and Kashmir – today dropped their masks completely and took a common posture that complements the secessionist groups and those associated with the Hurriyat movement after BJP released its ‘Sankalp Patra’ (election manifesto 2019) promising to scrap Article 370 that grants special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir and Article 35A that guarantees special rights and privileges to the citizens of the state.

Mehbooba Mufti

Mehbooba Mufti has gone to the extent of retorting that the “Indian occupation of Kashmir” will become “illegal occupation” if Article 370 and Article 35A get scrapped. In a TV interview, she has also said “it is my warning to the BJP that they should stop playing with fire. Jammu and Kashmir sits on powder keg. If you hurl a spark, there will be no Jammu and kashmir and no Hindustan. If you do away with Article 370, Jammu and Kashmir will also get freedom (from India)”.

Senior Abdullah, was in a belligerant mood today. “They talk of abrogating Article 370. If they do that, the accession (of J&K) will also get nullified. I swear by Allah, I think this is the wish of the Almighty. We will get freedom from them”, he said from a public platform.

Farooq Abdullah spewed venom. Quoting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said: “yah sadak banegi voh sadak banegi, agar mulk hi nahi raha to sadak kya banegi” (this road will be built, that road will be built. If there is no nation, where are you going to build the roads).

“They think they will bring outsiders and settle them in Kashmir to reduce our numbers. We will face the situation, In shāʾ Allāh. I swear upon Allah. It must be Allah’s wish. We will attain freedom.” – National Conference Chief Farooq Abdullah

Amar Abdullah also threw a direct challenge to “Modi sahab and Amit Shah” (Prime Minister and the BJP President) on this issue.

When terrorists from across the border or the home grown terrorists and jehadi elements have targeted Indian troops or military installations, not even an iota of this belligerance has surfaced even remotely when it comes to these leaders. They remained pathetically silent, when the Kashmiri Hindus were hounded, raided and driven out of their homes by terrorists and the secessionist forces to meet the objective of ethnic cleansing. These leaders never raised the demand for the return of the Kashmiri Hindus, who have become refugees in their own country.

The one voice in which these leaders are now crying hoarse makes explicit that they are hand in glove with the terror outfits operating from Pakistan and the secessionist elements who want another partition of India on religious grounds. Who is going to tell them that India chose to be a Secular, Sovereign Republic when those advocating the two nation theory managed to partition the nation and create the the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The two nation theory was the founding principle of the Pakistan Movement and the partition of India. Partition saw the displacement of about 15 million people who crossed the borders. Violence and slaughter at the time of partition resulted in the massacre of hundreds of thousand who were caught in the two-way migration. Any demand for secession on religious grounds now could fan unrest in the country. What will happen if the situation goes out of hand in case there is a build up of demand that the majority religion be declared the official religion of India. Wonder if any one has thought of such a possibility and its consequences. The Jammu and Kashmir leaders should realize that ours is an inclusive society and the Indian citizens, cutting across regional and religious lines, who believe in values of secularism and co-existence, should have equal rights and opportunity when it comes to settling in any part of the country. It is high time the nation gives up the whole idea of special status to Jammu and Kashmir. They should know that winning hearts is not a one way traffic.

Also read:

Kashmir: Ethnic cleansing, exodus of Kashmiri Hindus and the continuing crisis

Human Rights Council General Debate: India puts Pakistan in the dock for spreading terror

Lalit Shastri

Stone pelting in Kashmir
Stone pelting in Kashmir

India used the Human Rights Council general debate in Geneva on the human rights situations requiring the Council’s attention as a platform to corner Pakistan by projecting that it was fabricating facts and figures over the situation in Kashmir.

Using its right of reply on 19 September, India stated that illegal occupation of 78,000 square kilometres of the Indian territory by Pakistan continues. The human rights violations in the whole of Pakistan cried out for the world’s attention. Religious and ethnic minorities continued to face discrimination and targeted attacks in Pakistan, and blasphemy laws remained in place. India also took the firm position that Pakistan should be well advised to bring its own house in order and combat terrorism.

Earlier India had targeted Pakistan for the role it was playing in spreading terror. India had stated that the main reason for disturbances in Kashmir is cross-border terrorism promoted by Pakistan which is so ruthless that it doesn’t shy away from using civilians and even children by putting them in harm’s way, at the forefront of violent mobs instigated and supported by their handlers from across the border. This also came as an answer to all those organisations that had parroted Pakistan’s bogey and hurled blasphemous charges against India on the issue of Kashmir. Many of these radical Islamist organisations will never utter a word on the violation of the rights of the Kashmiri Hindus who were residing in the Kashmir region of Jammu and Kashmir. A vast majority of Kashmir’s minority Hindu population was forced to leave the Kashmir valley and become refugees in their own country in 1990 and even later after a spate of violence and attacks targeting their community. Unfortunately the separatist leaders were hand in glove with the Pak-sponsored terrorists who were behind the ethnic cleansing.¹

The radicalisation of young children continues in Kashmir and behind this diabolic game-plan are those across the border who want to keep Kashmir on the boil and also those who  receive money and patronage from their handlers in Pakistan. So many boys in Kashmir valley, who were not even in their teens, had been radicalised to such an extent even in the pre-1971 war days that they used to miss no opportunity to target even the tourists visiting Kashmir from other parts of India. As if trained to follow a set pattern – they used to follow the tourists, generally in isolated parts of downtown Srinagar, and then, as if playing a role they were trained to perform, these kids would hurl abuses at the tourists and run away from the spot. The young boys leading the stone pelting mobs in Kashmir today  belong to the second and third generation of the radicalised sections of the population and they have been playing havoc with the law and order situation in Kashmir.

Speaking in a second right of reply, Pakistan stuck to Kashmir and accused India of trying to deflect attention from Jammu and Kashmir, stating that it was an internationally recognized dispute.

If India continued to flout international norms, then the international community had to address the situation in India as a whole, Pakistan said and even went to the extent of questioning the ideology of the Bharatiya Janata party led NDA Government in India. Pakistan equated the ruling party in India with “fascist tendencies” and said the Indian Government “openly espoused an ideology that portrayed Muslims and Christians as a threat to the society”. Pakistan rounded up its charge by saying the time had come to address the perverse ideology in India that supported State terrorism.

Pakistan’s baseless accusations against the ruling party in India and futile attempts to paint Kashmir as a disputed territory got buried under a volley of statements by organisations spread around the globe that categorically blamed Pakistan for violation of the human rights of women and unleashing a reign of terror against the Sindhi people and the native population of Pak occupied Kashmir and Baluchistan.

World Environment and Resources Council informed the Human Rights Council about gross human rights violations committed by Pakistan’s security forces against the Sindhi people. It was an operation to create fear among the Sindhi people in order to accept the highly controversial multi-billion project called China Pak Economic Corridor.

Commission to Study the Organization of Peace noted that Pakistan’s police excesses and torture in the Gilgit-Baltistan region were not a new phenomenon. There were no adequate checks and balances on society on the part of the Government and as a result police officers did not follow the rule of “no torture” during investigations.

International Association for Democracy in Africa stated that the Pakistani army had been violating human rights in Baluchistan and every year thousands of civilians would disappear. Later, their bodies would be recovered with bullet holes in their heads. It urged the United Nations to take action against such violations.

African Regional Agricultural Credit Association called the attention of the Council to the grave human rights situation in Balochistan, where the State agents were taking the women hostages in order to force their husbands to abandon their political struggle. Since the world’s biggest democracy, India, had expressed concern about the situation in Baluchistan, Pakistan had stepped up the repression.

Pan African Union for Science and Technology said that the violation of the human rights of women was rampant in Pakistan, and that life for women in Balochistan – Pakistan’s largest and least developed province – was particularly grim. Human development in this province had been intentionally neglected by successive central governments in order to benefit out of the vast and geostrategic location of the province and its extensive resources.

Commission to Study the Organization of Peace noted that Pakistan’s police excesses and torture in the Gilgit-Baltistan region were not a new phenomenon. There were no adequate checks and balances on society on the part of the Government and as a result police officers did not follow the rule of “no torture” during investigations.

International Association for Democracy in Africa stated that the Pakistani army had been violating human rights in Baluchistan and every year thousands of civilians would disappear. Later, their bodies would be recovered with bullet holes in their heads. It urged the United Nations to take action against such violations.

Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs said that the area of Pakistan-administered Kashmir had been illegally held by Pakistan since 1947. Pakistan-administered Kashmir was supposed to be a self-governing territory, but it really had remained a colony of Pakistan. The Pakistani army had used the area of Pakistan Administered Kashmir for training purposes in areas bordering Indian Kashmir.

European Union of Public Relations said that the Human Rights Council had been created to ensure the safety of human rights around the world, but the human rights situation in Balochistan was deplorable. The Pakistan Army killed Balochs indiscriminately. The Council was urged, on behalf of the victims of human rights violations in Balochistan, to ensure their right to life.

Canners International Permanent Committee said that the right to development was based on human dignity and implied the right to self-determination and full sovereignty over wealth and natural resources. But in Balochistan province of Pakistan, the right to development was totally denied. Pakistan had always treated Balochistan as a colony. The ethnic Punjabi elite under the patronage of the Pakistan Government was determined to vandalise the natural resources of Balochistan.

Centre for Environmental and Management Studies said that the Pashtun minority in Pakistan had not been given any basic human rights. They were brutally killed, tortured, and bombarded by the Pakistani army in the name of the Zarb-e-Azb military operation. Pashtuns requested the international community to bring to trial in the International Criminal Court all those responsible, including the Army High Command, who ordered the massacre of Pashtun civilians.

United Schools International said that Pakistan used excessive brutality and torture in the region of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Numerous civilians had been prosecuted under military courts without a proper judicial process and without valid charges against them. The international community had to take proper note and expose those human rights violations.

Many organisations also targeted India on the issue of human rights. Liberation noted that the human rights situation of the 160 million Dalits in India required the Council’s attention. It urged the Council to recognize those acts as crimes against humanity and genocide, and to appoint a commission of inquiry to investigate the crimes against minorities in India.

World Barua Organization noted that scheduled castes, which constituted more than 15 per cent of the Indian population, continued to suffer from discrimination and persecution.

Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee noted that the impunity for the crimes committed against the population of Jammu and Kashmir persisted. It urged the Council to recommend to the Government of India to review its laws, namely those pertaining to the military and security forces.

World Muslim Congress said that the Indian army was killing children because they had the courage to say that they were not, nor would they ever be a part of the State of India.

International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations said that the human rights situation in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir was worsening dramatically. India had created the most militarized part of the world in Kashmir, where one soldier terrorised every 17 Kashmiri civilians.

Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association stated that communal violence and the rise of Hindu fundamentalism in India required the Council’s attention. In spite of the progressive secular constitution and modern domestic human rights laws, wider impunity and killings of minority people in India was of serious concern.

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development drew attention to the deteriorating human rights situations in several Asian countries and alleged that there was use of preventive detention in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir.

Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights said that human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir had reached an alarming level.

Prahar said that India had taken several measures to repress victims of violence. The Government had taken action against Greenpeace India, including preventing a campaigner from travelling to the United Kingdom in January. The High Court had ruled that some of the steps taken had been illegal. The Council was asked to recommend to the Government of India not to put bans on non-governmental organizations for protecting the freedom of association.


¹ Kashmir: Ethnic cleansing, exodus of Kashmiri Hindus and the continuing crisis