Kashmir: LG’s understatement on internally displaced persons

Manoj Sinha, Lieutenant Governor Jammu & Kashmir.
Manoj Sinha, Lieutenant Governor Jammu & Kashmir.

Manoj Sinha, Lt. Governor Jammu & Kashmir, cannot be singled out for his token response to the question of restoring secular profile of Kashmir Valley. Answering a press reporter about the return and restitution of the displaced community of Kashmiri Hindus (Pandits), the Lt. Governor chose to be vague and perfunctory. He has thus maintained the government’s decades-old policy of side-tracking the core of Kashmir issue.

He said the process of return of the displaced Pandits will begin in a year. But lest caught on the wrong foot, he corrected himself and added that 6,000 government vacancies would be filled by recruiting the youth from the displaced population and an equal number of flats was under construction in some parts of the valley where these employees would be housed. Thus we find that an issue meriting political decision is relegated to administrative dispensation. One can understand the compulsions.

However, it has to be recollected that the Prime Minister’s package was announced by Dr Manmohan Singh, the then PM, in 2008 on the occasion of inaugurating the Akhnoor Bridge in Jammu. In 12 years barely 1400 youth of the displaced community have been inducted into government service. With this snail’s pace, it will take another fifty years for the Lt. Governor to employ 4600 youth of the displaced community. The PM’s Package was dragged on for 12 long years and the eligible youth of the displaced community became overaged and ineligible for employment in government service. The LG was loath either to reflect on this sordid situation or to pass even an off-the-cuff remark on the subject.

We believe the Lt. Governor has to be a thinking machine in terms of the need and importance of secular dispensation in Kashmir and the pre-requisites of its contours. The question is whether the panacea for the ethnic cleansing of Kashmir lies in providing 6000 Class IV or III jobs to the eligible youth of the displaced community and then leave it to its fate. If in the eyes of responsible authorities the Pandit issue means only providing employment to their eligible youth and brushing aside all other ramifications of mass displacement and ethnic cleansing, then why not find them work for wages outside Kashmir and formally announce Kashmiris of the valley having the freedom of declaring Kashmir sharia observing theocratic region (or sub-region) in a secular Union Territory of the Indian Union.  

We believe that the Lt. Governor is aware that as Home Minister Rajnath Singh had proposed to earmark a sum of rupees 5000 crores for the rehabilitation of the displaced Pandits back in Kashmiri. Omar Abdullah, the then CM never responded to that proposal. What inference will the Lt. Governor draw from this?

Kashmiri Pandits protesting for their rights. (Representative image)
Kashmiri Pandits protesting for their rights. (Representative photo)

In the Agreement of Alliance jointly signed by Mufti Muhammad Saeed, the then chief minister and BJP leadership while cobbling a coalition government in 2014, it was stipulated that the displaced Hindus of the valley would be resettled in Kashmir. Late Mufti and PM Modi met in Delhi and agreed to take an initiative to this purpose. They made a public joint statement in Delhi. Next day, there was a general strike against the announcement in the entire valley, the like of which has never been seen. Not only that, in the State Legislative Assembly, Kashmir Valley MLAs came to fists with the BJP members and declared that no power on earth could bring back the Pandits to the Valley. Mufti Saeed, the then Chief Minister, intervening in the melee and absolving himself of the respondents said that he meant the Pandits would return to their homes in respective localities in towns and villages. But he did not say where their homes were and who had vandalized these and whether these existed at all? The General Secretary of National Conference (NC) is on record to have said that the NC would not allow the return of the displaced Pandits because “we know each Pandit will bring three Israelis with him.” This should explain to the Lt. Governor what Sheikh Abdullah meant saying in his biography Atash-e-Chinar that the Pandits are the “spies of India in Kashmir.” One may ask, is a Pandit eking out a miserable living in Kashmir a spy of India or is it those who have been ruling over Kashmir for three generations albeit with the patronage of New Delhi?

The Lt. Governor may assume the thorny issue of return and rehabilitation of displaced Pandits just simplistic and conducive to the political expediency of the authorities in power. But this simplification has an unfavourable dimension. It could be interpreted that the Pandits should reconcile to returning to the Wahhabized Kashmir and live as third rate zimmis (outcasts) in the once glorious land of their ancestors.

Who does not know that propagators of Islamic Caliphate have dragged Kashmir to the centre of their philosophy? The insurgents in Kashmir are not fighting for democracy, human rights, development, equality and the rule of law. They are fighting to dismantle it lock, stock and barrel, and replace it with Islamic Sharia (Law). Not only the Indian state but even the Indian nation is pitted against the expansionist Islam of early times. Kashmir cause is as dear to the bigots as it has led to a split among the Muslims in which the non-Semitic Islamic world has developed political differences with the Semitic Arab world. The former attaches importance to nuclear Pakistan hoping that the day would not be far away when she will in actuality convert it into an Islamic bomb. The ground is already set for that. What does President Erdogan’s aspiration for the revival of Ottoman grandeur mean? Of late Turkey has been showing goodwill gesture towards Kashmiri Muslim students by making their admission easier in Turkish institutes and granting scholarships to some of them. The aim is to assure the Kashmiri Muslims and to Pakistan that Turkey is with them in their Kashmir mission.

Farooq Abdullah’s call for invoking China’s support in the Islamic revivalist movement in Kashmir could not have come without the blessings from the Chinese mission in New Delhi, a source known for its largesse in winning over political dissidents of various hues in India. And China is using the Islamists all over the world for wrecking the existing world order and reshaping it after its planning. The world is getting gradually polarized.  Democracy, the universally accepted just form of government is alien to the doctrinal Islamic practice and tradition. India, with the second-largest Muslim population in the world is at the forefront of the ongoing clash of civilizations. Farooq or Mufti’s opposition to India essentially stems from the concept that Muslims are not supposed to be subservient to a non-Muslim rule. This thinking was clearly stated by Sheikh Abdullah when he argued for special status for Kashmir at the time when Indian constitution was in making.

When India agreed to Kashmir’s special status on the basis of religion and did not demand that J&K Constitution also make identical provision for the protection of the rights and identity of its religious minorities, it was obvious that India was reconciled to Kashmir as a theocratic region within the secular Indian Union. It is the loss of that theocratic status which Farooq Abdullah, Mufti Mehbooba and others of their team are lamenting for and seeking restoration. The recent separatist oriented statements of Mehbooba, the President of PDP should be a lesson for the BJP which made the Himalayan blunders in Kashmir especially that of forming a coalition with it not once but twice. Farooq Abdullah says that he is not against the Indian nation but against BJP for abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A. But it is the Indian nation that had incorporated through its representatives in the parliament the said article in the constitution and it is the same Indian nation which has through its representatives in the Parliament abrogated the said Article. Obviously Farooq Abdullah is opposing not only the Indian nation but also it most sanctified institution namely the Indian Parliament.

With several terrorist organizations based in Pakistan sending their suicide bombers to fight the Indian defense forces in Kashmir and the state’s political leadership never condemning and always justifying the violence unleashed by them, the valley’s political leadership indirectly sends a message to the displaced community of Pandits that the valley is not the place they should look for. India is knee-deep in this existential conflict with the radicals. The Islamists have succeeded in making the world believe that India is lost to the secularists and, therefore, they have a historic duty to fight back for its “Islamization”. Nobody can predict how long this conflict will continue and with what consequences.

People in the valley are happy if the Indian government is investing massively in various developmental works in Kashmir. The developmental exercise has one meaning for the government of India and another for the valley’s leadership. What we would like to bring home to the Indian government is that the need is to bring about fundamental changes in Kashmir. Democracy and civil rights have been abused beyond limits in Kashmir. The entire administrative structure is mentally diseased and morally run aground. Religion is turned into lethal weapon that scares people and stifles their voice. Abrogation of Article 370 and 35A has roused much rabble and yielded substantially little. Stopping the abuse of democratic dispensation, neutralizing the tyranny of majoritarianism, drastically separating religion from politics, strictly enforcing rules and regulations governing cohesive social interaction, disarming the powerful elitist class, withdrawing all such privileges as generate support for the concept of exclusiveness etc., these are the fundamental tasks that must be taken in hand if Kashmir is to be retrieved. Kashmir Valley has to be India if the displaced community is to go back to the valley. The Pandits are not the goats to be sacrificed for the sake of the type of “secularism” which India is harboring in Kashmir. The Pandits will not go to the Wahhabized and Pakistani-zed Kashmir but to Indian-ized Kashmir only.

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