Dr. Ramesh Tamiri has expressed much distress at what he considers the sidelining of Kashmiri Pandits in the ongoing talks between the government of India and the Gupkar gang in Kashmir. His concerns remind me of the article that another friend of mine wrote many months ago. Swaran Preet Singh wrote in the context of Kashmir about the absence of a recognition that Sikhs are a persecuted community. Any community which wishes to be heard needs to become extraordinarily touchy about its existence. It is the touchiness that communicates to the rest of the world that a community exists and it needs to be respected. The Sikhs, by creating an identity around the Indian state of Punjab, have used such touchiness in the past two decades to assert a distinct Sikh identity. In the case of the Kashmiri Pandits, their initial stoic silences worked against them. Far from appreciating their suffering, there were some, journalists, Kashmiri Pandits, academics in general, who began to construct an image of the Kashmiri P andits being an oppressor group. Despite all the persecution they have suffered at the hands of the radicalised Islamists in Kashmir, the broad vision as propagated till recently by the likes of Barkha Dutt was that they were actually exploiters of the Muslims in Kashmir. That apologia for Islamism in Kashmir was fortunately rendered ineffective by the changes in Kashmir introduced by the Narendra Modi government. Today even Pakistan hesitates in providing overt military backup to Islamists crossing the border.
Rajiv Lochan is a renowned scholar, historian and columnist
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 es and frontier villages to urban suburbs and neighborhoods. Beside Kashmiri Hindus, ex-servicemen and serving defence personnel posted in Kashmir should be made residents in large numbers to counter the threat of terrorists from Pakistan.
Srinagar: A 29 July 2020 post on facebook illustrated with pics says: “The pit temple next to the river is said to be ancient Shiv temple of Bijbihara mentioned by Kalhana as Vijeshvara.
The word Bijbehara or Vijbor has been derived from Sanskrit word Vijayeshwar. It was an ancient site of Shiva Vijayeshwar.
The sculptures found at Bijbehara, a town in Anantnag district of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir are considered the earliest ones in distinct Kashmiri style of sculptures. A lot of material from Bijbehara was moved to Sri Pratap Singh Museum museum by the turn of the 20th Century
Vinayak Rajdan wrote about the Pit temple of Bijbehara in SearchKashmir.org in January 2017. We quote: ” Although lot of old fragments can be found in the pit, John Siudmak mentions about a standing Ganesha, the oldest from around early 7th century AD. Although, Siudmak had seen it in late 1980s, in his book “The Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Ancient Kashmir and its Influences”, a Handbook of Oriental Studies, published in 2013, he reports the statue to be missing.” On visiting the temple site, Rajdan was left wondering whether this was the same Ganesha.
Much through the 80s the site was a regular victim of religious strife. People would break in and vandalize.
Rajdan wrote this piece when terrorists were launching attacks in close vicinity of this pit temple.
Whatever remains of the Bijbihara pit temple in Kashmir is a sad reminder of the ancient Burzahom site – a prehistoric settlement in the village of the same name in the Srinagar District, 16 kilometres to the northwest of Srinagar.
Archaeological excavations have revealed four phases of cultural significance between 3000 BC and 1000 BC.
The different period represented by the Burzahom sites stretch from neolithic to megalithic to pre-history.
The remarkable find during this period was of pits which were inferred as dwelling units.
This site was nominated on 15 April 2014 for declaring it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site by the Permanent Delegation of India to UNESCO, and is yet to be approved. The declaration is still awaited
The Kashmiri Pandits who were driven out of their homes in the Kashmir valley and were made refugees in their own country by terrorists 30 years ago, are sad, heartbroken, bitter, angry but there is also optimism. They feel Kashmir will once again embrace inclusiveness.
This is what they are saying on social media
You dig anywhere in Kashmir, temple’s will erupt – Rakesh Bhat
It’s our destiny given to us by cruel rulers. But destiny changes for sure in a lifetime. – Sanjay Koul
I am still to come to terms – what prompted a mass movement from a peace loving population to taking up guns fighting for liberation of Kashmir. Whether it were Jagmohans of the world or Abdullahs, the verdict was delivered, the society was divided and the brotherhood challenged. Kashmir was a centre of Sufi pilgrimage. Who in Islam doesn’t like Sufism? Is it the Wahabi. Or that some of our elite brethren felt Wahabism can replace traditional Sufism. And in doing so the turmoil erupted….The generations to come will search for answers why the peaceful Kashmiriyat was torn into pieces. Or that I am in a delusion about the so-called fabric of Kashmiriyat – Anil Koul
Srinagar: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has asked authorities in Jammu and Kashmir to expedite implementation of the PM’s Development Package in a time bound manner.
Singh arrived in Srinagar today on a four-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir. He was received at the airport by state’s Deputy Chief Minister Dr. Nirmal Kumar Singh, senior minister Abdul Rehman Veeri and Senior Officials of the State Government.
“I am going there with an open mind and I am willing to meet anyone who will help us in finding solutions to problems facing J&K,” said Singh in a tweet before leaving for Srinagar.
On his arrival, the Union Home Minister had an hour long one-on-one meeting wih Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. Singh later reviewed the status of implementation of the Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) for Jammu and Kashmir with the Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Chief Secretary of J&K BB Vyas and Senior Officers of the MHA and State Government.
The Union Home Minister asked the authorities to expedite the implementation of the PMDP in a time bound manner. Singh said it will create jobs for the people of J&K.
The PMDP, a Rs.80,068 crore package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 7, 2015, covers 63 projects pertaining to 15 Ministries of the Government of India. The Union Government has already sanctioned Rs.63,000 crores for the various projects, which amounts to 78 percent of the total cost of the PMDP package. An amount of nearly Rs.22,000 crore has been released.
Nearly two years after the PMDP-2015 was announced, five of its 63 projects have been completed. These include the prestigious Chenani-Nashri tunnel costing Rs.781 crore, announcement of remuneration to Special Police Officers (SPOs) from Rs.3,000 per month to Rs.6,000 per month as well as assistance provided for houses damaged during the 2014 flood.
Land acquisition in respect of semi-Ring Roads in Jammu and Srinagar will be completed within two months. The four-laning of Jammu-Udhampur section of National Highway, NH-1A, is nearing completion. Nineteen road connectivity projects costing about Rs.43,000 crore are under implementation in the State.
An investment of about Rs.5,810 crore is being made in teh power sector to improve the transmission and distribution network in the state. Besides, the Central Government is supporting the State with an investment of Rs.3,790 crore on Pakaldul hydroelectric project.
For the construction of AIIMS at Awantipora and Jammu, Rs.2,000 crore each are being made available and an amount of nearly Rs.91 crore has been released. Besides, IIT, Jammu and IIM, Jammu have already started functioning from temporary campus and the setting up of permanent campus is under progress. Similarly under the Health Sector, Rs.900 crore is available for completion of ongoing health infrastructure. Rs.200 crore has been utilized. The work on the comprehensive management of Jhelum was reviewed and found satisfactory. The DPR for Phase-II is being prepared. The rehabilitation plan for migrants of Jammu, PoK and Kashmiri Pandits was also reviewed. It was noted with satisfaction that the projects are progressing satisfactorily. During the meeting, other developmental projects under Urban Development, Solar Energy, Horticulture, Tourism etc were also reviewed. The Chief Minister assured the State Government’s full support in the implementation of the PMDP and on all other fronts.
Later during the day, 24 delegations representing different organizations, including social, trade, travel and business from across Kashmir Valley called on Singh. These included Travel Agents’ Association of Kashmir (TAAK), Kashmir Hotels and Restaurants Associations, Kashmir Shikara Association, House Boat Owners Association, and various other Tourism sector organizations, Youth delegation, Kashmir Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), Sikh delegation, Fruit Growers & Dealers Association, JK Shia Association, All Gujjjar & Bakerwal Conference, Pahari association and Self employed Women Association.