(Traumatizing Kashmiri Society)
By Mir Junaid
Thirty years constitute a significant time span in one’s life; and if those formative years are a witness to systemic violence resulting in total demographic alterations and loss of innumerable lives in a region, then one’s experiences are often too traumatizing to be described in words. If one were to take off the jaundiced lenses of radical propaganda , it is painfully obvious that obvious both Kashmiri Muslims , and Pandits have been the unwitting victims of a brand of political economy that puts humanity to shame. At the the heart of the tragedy lies a sociopolitical crisis engineered by the Muslim leadership without any political response from the Pandits who lacked any community leadership.
Both the communities have suffered immensely, each one for its own reason- one inflicted and the other insidiously imposed on the collective conscience of the region’s majority. The inflicted ones being ‘Indian Agent’ (political discourse), and Kafir (religious discourse) to vilify the Pandit community and the more expedient one being ‘the political aim’ of freeing Kashmir from its so called subjugation by India to rile up the Muslims when required.
“I will dare to speak my heart out, even if it costs my life, friends or family“.
The heaven burns:
In keeping with ‘the political aim’, a false narrative was created that the valley had to be flushed of Pandits because (1) they had been labeled as Indian Agents and (2) the Kafir could not be a part of an Islamic state. So, a few, to disguise their vested interests, came up with posters and banners held aloft by hundreds of people; their shrill proclamations from religious structures and roof tops asking the rudderless Pandits to either convert or quit the valley; else get kidnapped, raped and then slaughtered. So those born out of wedlock’s put womenfolk to disgrace and men, women and children were murdered –unheard of in the past. But majority of the population never wanted this except few who had nefarious designs, because of their unholy plans the whole valley has not been able to remove those dark stains which were forcibly sprinkled on their white characters and we young still have to listen the unbearable because of somebody else’s misdeeds. To put it in terms like, it goes like this, “lamho ne khata ki aur sadiyo ney saza paayi.” (Crimes committed by a few during a brief period have tainted us all for centuries. )
One might ask why, in spite of being a Kashmiri Muslim, I dare to speak out against the purveyors of terror who still roam the valley. My reasons are simple. Our silence has maligned our dignity, and our character. I dare to speak because my parents taught me to stand up for what’s right. I dare to speak because I too am a son of Mother India. And I dare, in spite of being fully aware of the danger that poses for both me and my family.
Growing up I, like many of my peers, learned about the exodus of the Pandits from the valley mostly from our elders. By most accounts, it all began with inflammatory warnings issued from mosques and even rooftops of certain house, stirring the crowds into a frenzy; soon these were followed by demonstrations and public intimidation of the pundits by small bands of rogues, some local ;some not. During nights , these marauders will visit the families of Pandits to deliver their chilling message in person. Leave, or prepare for the worst imaginable fate. The plan was simple ,yet effective. Create such intense fear psychosis that these Pandits will be forced to flee enmasse. Where these warnings were not heeded, or not heeded quickly enough to suit them, these villains were quick to unleash horrifying violence on their defenseless victims.
I will dare to speak my heart out, even if it costs my life, friends or family. There were few instances hearsay heard from my elders, Most of the Pandit families were visited at their residences and asked to leave else be prepared for worst by these ill elements. Well organized fear psychosis was created with a plan that terror should struck so deep in the psyche of the Pandits that they wholesomely started leaving the valley in panic without even caring to carry their belongings only to become refugees settled in various camps in places like Jammu, Udhampur, Riasi, Nagrota, etc, and Delhi. And this innocent Kashmiri who was a firm believer of harmony and composite culture was turned into a scape goat of circumstances by the stooges and pawns of the other country, Thus the compassionate shoulders of Kashmiri’s which always proved helpful in giving shoulder to the funerals of Kashmiri Pandith brethren in the times of grief and sorrow were actually misused for chiding and haunting the Kashmiri Pandith’s in a way the same shoulders of solidarity and help were defamed and literally used by the nefarious agents for their gains. A prosperous middle-class community had overnight become slum dwellers! A few stayed back though – not confident enough to face the unknown world – anticipating death and rape anytime sooner or later and they were not to be proved wrong.
PM asked: Who Pandits?!!
Thus January 19, 1990 got etched in the history as the day of forced exodus of the Pandits from a place of their heritage and the day when the valley was cleansed of its aboriginals!
Shri V P Singh was the PM of India and Shri Mufti Muhammad Syed was the HM (Home minister) of India. It’s on public record that when the Prime minister was finally notified that the Pandits had fled the valley, the PM asked: Who Pandits?!!
Prior to the exodus of the Pandits a very smart event was engineered: arranging kidnap of Mufti Sayed’s daughter and her release in exchange for five militants. It was common knowledge that the whole event was arranged to allow large scale distribution of arms and ammunitions among the people. The Media described the insurgency as sudden explosion while the political leadership and IB feigned total ignorance of any long time ongoing activities that might have led to an armed revolt against the Indian Nation State. It was a pathetically compromised state machinery!!
No, the eruption of insurgency and the plan for engineering large scale demographic change in the valley was not sudden and haphazard, but well planned for which preparations zealously had started in 1971; post the birth of Bangladesh. Pakistan had been partitioned and it was beyond Jamait e Islami imagination and so India had to be taught a lesson. If India was to be taught a lesson then Kashmiri Muslim had to be transformed from a a relatively timid , stone pelting agitator to a more sophisticated guerilla capable of challenging the Indian State without fear and that was possible only if such an insurgent was religiously motivated: the fight (jihad) of the believers against the Kafirs.
The political resolve of Jamait e Islami to avenge Bangladesh by freeing Kashmir from “Indian Subjugation” was something that Pakistan couldn’t have asked for more as it fell in line with their political philosophy of ‘a thousand cuts’ and ‘thousand years jihad’ against India. What made things easier for the Kashmiri Muslim leadership was the fact that leaders like Maqbool Bhat had established some contacts with Pakistan. So the cross border transitions and training in arms across the border started earnestly which was to given a massive impetus during General Zia Ul Haq’s tenure as President of Pakistan. So indoctrinated goats were being fattened only to be slaughtered by the Indian forces as and when they took charge.
So the Muslims were not engaged in their war against the Indian State for liberation of their Kashmir, but as pawns in the hands of Pakistan to create chaos and turmoil in India. Thus the Muslim leadership chose to fight Pakistan’s war against India which they were never going to win. This was the trap.
False Narrative & Confused Aim:
Any race, community or an individual may have political aspirations and may devise ways to achieve the same, but political aspirations cannot be built on false narratives. The narrative invented by the Kashmiri Muslim leadership was that India had occupied Kashmir and therefore the freedom struggle was about making her vacate it; thus the two most important historical documents 1) the Instrument of Accession and 2) the UN resolution were made irrelevant. This narrative was in tune with that of Pakistan which always moved UN to plead that India should vacate Kashmir and therefore no country or international body ever paid any heed to Pakistan’s rhetoric on Kashmir because the demand went against the grain of the UN resolution.
The so called ‘mainstream’ political leadership’s stand was governed by their being in or out of power; in power – pro India, out of power – sympathizing with secessionists. This was opportunism, and political prostitution at its best to remain relevant in the public domain; be visible in electronic media.
Those fighting Pakistan’s war against India too had division amongst them; one faction for Azadi and the other for merger with Pakistan. Yet they forged an alliance that consisted of several single member parties and named it the Hurriat Conference! The glaring contradiction between their respective political aims was supposedly to be resolved after India agreed to concede Kashmir! This was again opportunism and political prostitution at its best to keep a crusade on that essentially had become meaningless in view of the fact that Pakistan had failed to keep her word.
Their replies certainly confirmed how and why the gullible can be indoctrinated so easily and made in to pawns in some unknown hands.
Sometime post abrogation I met some traders and also self-styled militants and asked them as to what did they think they would achieve in an arms struggle against India and the reply was not only interesting but also showed how naïve these people were who had been indoctrinated in the name of religion; in reply they said that Pakistan had promised them that once they rise in arms against the State and immobilize Srinagar, and whole Kashmir the Pakistani army would attack India and occupy Kashmir!!! Further when asked how they could accept that kind of nonsense, the reply was more indicative of their total ignorance about Indian Nation; they replied “we did not know that India was such a big country”. The disillusionment was writ large on their faces for, they had hoped that Pakistan would annex Kashmir in a day or two once Srinagar was kept under seize.
Their replies certainly confirmed how and why the gullible can be indoctrinated so easily and made in to pawns in some unknown hands. Further while the lives were being voluntarily sacrificed at the hands of the Indian security forces along with local police and army in the name of freedom movement, the leaders continued to live under the State’s protection! If this is not political prostitution what else is it? This is political prostitution because by the very demeanor of the mainstream and separatist leadership they leave no doubt in discerning minds that they are political prostitutes.
A Farcical Movement:
The Hurriat leadership never ventured in to the Jammu region; in fact all of them had very limited spheres of influence in Kashmir. It was at best a street, a mohalla or a mosque. They could never mobilize people across the valley to send across their political manifesto. There has not been any political event engineered by the Hurriat in the last 30 years except the one on 19 01 1990 (when Hurriat was nonexistent) and the other related to Amarnath Yatra when PDP Congress coalition was in power. All along it has been gun trotting and encounters between the forces and the indoctrinated ones, while the leaders enjoyed life to the full in cozy bedrooms. In fact it became so ridiculous that people came to believe that there was a pact between the leaders and the establishment and the pact was : that whenever a call would be given by the leaders they should be placed under house arrest by the law and order maintenance machinery!
The Conspiracy and Disillusionment:
While the Hurriat continued to be on the same page as Pakistan against the Indian Union and did not think it necessary to review (with Pakistan) its jihad against India that continued to cost many young lives despite no cognizance being taken by the world community and instead labeling it as problem of Pakistan sponsored terrorism instead of liberation movement; the Indian political leadership across the spectrum wrote off the ‘Indian Agents’ who had become homeless, rootless and therefore refugees because they owed their allegiance to the Indian Union. Some crumbs were thrown at them from time to time, but no National political party ever thought of resolving the Pandit’s problem which was essentially political in nature. They chose to live with the shame that ‘Bharat Mata’ patriots had become orphans in her lap.
Supreme Court of India refused to entertain the Pandits’ petition on various matters related to them; bringing in the ‘time bar’ technicality.
In the last thirty years only two Prime Ministers made a visit to some camps; 1) Sri I K Gujral (whose government was always on crutches and lasted only a few months) and 2) Manmohan Singh (who was a pet and therefore totally powerless) who spent his tenure at the service of the high command and brought total and unimaginable/ unprecedented disrepute and disgrace to the Chair of the PM of India and the Indian Nation.
The NDA rule also did not think it worthwhile to set the process for finding the solution for the political problem of the Pandits rolling; even after obtaining absolute majority in the Lok Sabha and claiming to be of Hindutva Ideology! The height of political prostitution was that the PM during NDA rule came up with the slogan: Kashmiriat Jamhooriat Insaaniyat! It simply implied that forced exit of the Pandits and ill treatment of their womenfolk followed by murders of males and females all fell in the category of Kashmiriat Jamhooriat Insaaniyat!
The icing on the cake was when the Supreme Court of India refused to entertain the Pandits’ petition on various matters related to them; bringing in the ‘time bar’ technicality.
In view of the above historical facts, the question that need be asked is: Was it a political conspiracy (with the consent of all political parties and state machinery) to ensure permanent exit of the Pandits from Kashmir? The establishment of Islamic state was initiated by the Kashmiri Muslim leadership only to be given the stamp of approval by the Indian political leadership! Was not that ‘Azadi’ granted to buy some peace in the region? Else, how does one explain total apathy of all the political parties and the highest court in the land towards the plight of the Pandits?
Who will answer as to why this tragic event was never ever discussed in the Parliament, and why no Inquiry Commission was founded to find out why Pandits were forces to flee but who were its mastermind?
Why did V P Singh say, “Who Pandits?” Pandits may not say it openly, but the fact of their disillusionment with the Indian Union cannot be denied.
So, can it be said that at the end of thirty years the Muslims are disillusioned with Pakistan and the Pandits with India?
Unless answers to the above question are found there may not be a true remedy to the trauma of Kashmir.
Mir Junaid is an alumni of law school, university of Kashmir. He’s the president of Jammu Kashmir Workers Party(JKWP).His areas of special interest being grassroot governance, Gender justice and policy making.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @MirJunaidJKWP
Ph: +91 9596196121
Edited by PK Waghare
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