It is 23 years today since Jammu & Kashmir saw the beginning of the ethnic-cleansing of the Kashmiri Pandits, the original inhabitants of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), from their homeland at the instigation of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) by a group of Kashmiri jihadi elements trained, armed and motivated by the ISI.
The lead in this act of ethnic-cleansing was initially taken by the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM). Other jihadi organisations, which subsequently came into existence after having been trained and armed by the ISI, kept the ethnic-cleansing going till practically all the Kashmiri Pandits were driven out after having been subjected to numerous indignities and brutalities such as rape of women, torture, forcible seizure of property belonging to the Pandits etc.
The Pandits, who survived these acts of indignities and brutalities, were forced to leave their homeland and seek shelter in camps for refugees set up in Jammu and Delhi. Within a few weeks of the outbreak of the ethnic cleansing, a majority of the Pandits found themselves reduced to the miserable status of refugees in their own country.
As the Pandits and their wives and children were subjected to indignities and brutalities and driven out of their homeland, the State of India totally caught by surprise watched helplessly and pusillanimously, as the plans of the ISI to change the demographic composition of the Kashmir Valley in order to make it a predominantly Muslim area were sought to be implements by the jihadis trained by the ISI.
Neither V.P.Singh, who was the Prime Minister when the ethnic-cleansing was carried out nor any of his successors had the least idea of how to deal with the situation. There were various options available. I would cite only two. The first option was to direct the Army to re-establish Indian sovereignty over Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) and Gilgit-Baltistan as a punitive measure. Pakistan had by then acquired a military nuclear capability, but not a nuclear arsenal. It did not have a satisfactory delivery capability. We could have, therefore, easily re-taken the POK and Gilgit-Baltistan without fear of provoking a nuclear war. The V.P.Singh Government did not exercise this option.
The other option was to train and arm the Pandits and ask them to go back and re-occupy their property and fight against the ISI-trained jihadis. This option was carefully examined and given up as not advisable. There were legitimate fears that this option could polarise for ever the relations between the Muslims and the Hindus and play into the hands of the jihadis who wanted such polarisation.
The option finally chosen was to look after the Pandits in the refugee camps and other areas where they had settled down with their relatives and wait for the restoration of normalcy in the Valley so that these refugees could be helped to go back, re-establish their ownership of their property and resume a life of dignity as the residents of their traditional homeland.
The Pandits have been waiting for 23 years hoping that the day of their return with honour and security to their homeland would come. It has not so far despite the considerable improvement in the ground situation. In the meanwhile, the plight of the Pandits has been slowly forgotten. Everybody sheds crocodile tears over their sufferings, but there is nothing more by way of action. The future of the Kashmiri Pandits as an important dimension of the Kashmir problem is less and less talked about.
There was one man, who spent his years of retirement in attempts to ensure that the promises made by the nation to restore the honour and dignity of the Pandits was not forgotten. He took a lively interest in their future and interacted vigorously with leaders of the Government and opposition political parties to see that this dimension of the Kashmir problem was not forgotten.
His name was R.N. Kao, a Kashmiri himself, who was the legendary founding father of the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW). The Kashmir tragedy broke out five years after he finally retired from public service in 1984. From 1989 onwards till his death in 2002, he devoted a lot of his time to his self-assumed task of restoring the honour and dignity of the Pandits.
Since Kao’s death in 2002, the Kashmiri Pandits find themselves orphaned. There is no one at the political or bureaucratic level, who is prepared to come to the forefront, stick his neck out and demand action to restore the dignity and honour of the Pandits. Hopes that the BJP-led Government would pay lively attention to the future of the Pandits were sadly belied. The BJP-led government was as confused and as inactive as any of the other Governments that had held office since 1989.
How to move forward? Two realities have to be kept in mind. Firstly, it is too late in the day to think of identifying and punishing those who were responsible for the ethnic-cleansing. Any ill-advised attempt to do so would complicate the situation further.
Secondly, the return of the Pandits to their homeland cannot be enforced unilaterally by the governments of India and the state. It has to be the outcome of a consensus among different political parties of the state and leaders of different communities. The government of India has a moral responsibility for working towards such a consensus. Presently, it has not been doing so. It should be made to do so through public pressure. It is time to stop meaningless breast-beating on the plight of the Pandits and their future. It is time to work for concrete ways of enabling their return to their homeland in dignity and honour.
B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
The more I read from some of the "secularists" comparing every god damn thing with Gujrat riots the more convinced I become that deep down they know they are so hollow that they hold on to it like the proverbial straw.
All those reminding about Gujrat riots forget that 59 hindus were burnt alive by the secular "Muslims" and almost half of those caught by police were also handed punishment by our court. Also if you see the total ratio of those dead is about 7:3 (muslim : hindus). It was not one way traffic.
Read the link to understand the mindset and growing "assertiveness" of the first favourite religion of pseudo secularists. http://www.hindujagruti.org/news/13373.html
If you cannot hang Afzal Guru fearing Kashmiri Muslim reaction then the government has no business of being there. And if the Kashmiri Muslims want to side with a culprit then so be it and government should take them to task.
Right from the way History has been taught to us (undermining everything good about Hindus and not highliting all bad deeds of Muslim invaders, Christians) to the electoral gain formula for Assam and now dangerous levels of Muslim population dominance in areas near Bangladesh all lead to same thing.
These so called scientific-rational commie historians wont bother to re-look at history even after discovery of river bed of Saraswati river. Surely it would disturb the timelines as postulated by their white skin Christian masters such as Mueller and Maculaly and their true followers in likes of Habib, Romila Thapar and others.
The combined group of Communists, "psuedo secularists" (a few apparent in the mails to editor for this article) Congress and other traitors are hell bent on making us Hindus third grade citizen.
Just reading responses to this piece show how "secularists" invent non-sensical arguements to try and save face for Islam. The person who wrote this article was either smoking something heavy as he says nothing can be done or is part of traitors club to indicate nice and reasonable sounding third class arguements.
Hindus wake up. Take pride in our Hindutva and our Bhaarat. India is something Goras gave us. Bhaarat is ours. Take pride in Bhaarat. Only then we can revive Hindu pride.
I am not sure how arming a group of people to return to their own homeland so that they can defend themselves against armed goons will result in polarization between Hindus and Muslims. If this leads to polarization, then so be it but this is the right way to do it. The government does not have the right to take away the most basic right of a human being to defend himself for the sake of imagined disturbances. Disturbances do not occur in a vaccum by unseen forces. They are created by real people and those who create this for their agenda need to be met head-on and the Indian state should not allow itself to be intimidated by such a prospect. I would even say allow large scale immigration from other parts of the country to the valley. If India claims the valley as their own, then treat it as its own by allowing any Indian to settle there, with arms.
Coorection.In the message above I meant to say Kashmiri Muslims
>>>Even logic to support hanging of Kasabh is that it will not provoke any separatist reaction
Just so i make it clear, I do not support death sentence for anyone at anytime for any reason.
But whan i say hanging of Kasab will not cause any sepratist reaction I am simply stating fact. Kasab is just a low level pawn and no on except his family cares for him. the master minds are living in Pakistan and they are free, So no tears will be shed from him. moreover I do no think KAshmiris conside him to be one of them.
>>>I find your logic quite weak . If death penalty is given to a convict by all the courts, it surely shows that Afzal Guru is guilty. If you believe still Guru should not be hanged fearing reaction from Indian Kashmiri separatists then you confirm that law of the land should be sacrificed to mobocracy.
It may sound moronic to you,But I find your argument ver weak. Right now KAshmir is peaceful. Do you want to hang afzal Guru and cause riots again? The hanging of Maqbool Butt alienated the Kashmiris further and gave a boost to militancy.And the rigged election later alienated the Kashmiri muslims completely
>>>If you believe still Guru should not be hanged fearing reaction from Indian Kashmiri separatists then you confirm that law of the land should be sacrificed to mobocracy.
Really where was youe indigantion when M. F. Hussain was hounded out by Mobs. Did he do something illegal?
As far as Kashmir is concerened we are not giving in to mobocracy. We are acting sensibly. Hanging Afzal may results in riots. That in turn mayresult in police or military shooting at people. That in turn may attract international attention to Kashmir. If that happens the international human rights associations will criticize us and probably this will make our position vis a vis pakistan quite weak. Granted this may or may not happen, but when KAshmir is peaceful now, why take actions that will result in alienating KAshmiri Muslims further. Let Afzal rot in jail.
By the way if pakistan in turn hangs Sarbjit Singh apparently you do not care. If Sarbjit is innocent as he claims then he should not die. If he was a RAW agent and planted bombs and killed innocent Pakistanis as Pakistan claims (and remember PAkistani supreme court has upheld that) then he was working for government India, and I would think you will not want him to die because we hanged Afzal Guru)
>>>> Salman Rushdie controversy clearly showed how low the Congress can go to appease Muslims. Secularism is an alien concept to all Indian political parties. Let's call a spade a spade.
And when congress did not do anything to protect M.F.hussain it shows how low the congress can go to appease Hindus?
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