When will the Pandits return to Kashmir Valley?

Pilgrims in Kashmir. (Representative Photo: PTI)
Pilgrims in Kashmir.(Representative Photo: PTI)

Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha 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 were under construction in some parts of the valley where these employees would be housed.

Thus, we find that an issue meriting political treatment 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 over-aged 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. He meticulously desisted from making any commitment about the migrant youth who have become over aged in course of time but for no fault of theirs.

We believe the Lt. Governor has to be a thinking machine in terms of the needs 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 Bharatiya Union.  

We believe that the Lt. Governor is aware that as Home Minister Rajnath Singh had proposed to earmark a sum of Rs. 5000 crore 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? Why should he not open the matter and induce the Union government to consider the proposal? 

In the Agreement of Alliance jointly signed by (late) 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 P.M. 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 Chief Minister, intervening in the melee absolved himself saying 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 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 Bharat 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 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 dhimmis (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 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 Bharat. 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. Bharat, with the second-largest Muslim population in the world is in the forefront of the ongoing clash of civilizations.

Farooq or Mufti’s opposition to Bharat 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 Bharat’s constitution was in making.

Farooq cannot be faulted for invoking the help of China in “liberating Kashmir from occupational forces of India” because way back in 1950s his illustrious father had fixed a secret meeting with the then Chinese premier Chou En Lai in Algiers. This was the time when China had broken relations with India and the Sheikh was dreaming of Kashmir Sultanate. 

When Bharat 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 Bharat was reconciled to Kashmir as a theocratic region within the secular Bharatiya Union.

It is the loss of that theocratic status which Farooq Abdullah, Mufti Mahbooba and others of their team are lamenting for and seeking restoration. The recent separatist oriented statements of Mahbooba, 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 Bharat but against BJP for abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A. But it is the Bharat that had incorporated through its representatives in the parliament the said article in the Constitution and it is the same Bharat which has through its representatives in the Parliament abrogated the said Article.

Obviously Dr. Farooq is opposing not only Bharat but also its most sanctimonious institution namely Bharat’s Parliament. 

With several terrorist organizations based in Pakistan sending their suicide bombers to fight Bharat’s defence forces in Kashmir and the state 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.

Bharat is knee-deep in this existential conflict with the radicals. The Islamists have succeeded in making the world believe that Bharat 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 consequences.

The people in the valley are happy if Bharatiya government is investing massively in various developmental works in Kashmir. The developmental exercise has one meaning for the Government of Bharat and another for the valley leadership.

What we would like to bring home to Bharatiya 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 Article 35-A 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 Bharat if the displaced community is to go back to the valley. The Pandits are not goats to be sacrificed for the sake of the type of “secularism” which Bharat is harbouring in Kashmir. The Pandits will not go to the Wahhabized and Pakistani-zed Kashmir but to Indian-ized Kashmir only.

Manoj Sinha’s appointment as the Lt. Governor of Jammu & Kashmir

When Manoj Sinha was appointed the new Lt. Governor, national print media was abuzz with the accolades that the new Governor had a huge fund of experience at his back and he would surely find a political solution to Kashmir imbroglio.

We wondered how come this person had accumulated all the knowledge about Kashmir issue, Kashmirian society and its layers after layers that he earned the accolades. Now we understand that a good deal of spadework had been done by him to publicize his profile the way he liked it.

A close watch of the words, actions and policy of the Lt. Governor clearly show that he just wants his tenure to be completed without any significant controversy and complication. This means his policy simply put is of least resistance. In doing so, he has been moving very close to the policy laid down by Congress during its long tenure of six decades.

Speaking from the platform of displaced Kashmiri Pandits, there are several questions that ask for a sensible answer. How has the abrogation of Art 370 and Art 35-A impacted the displaced population of Pandit minority? Not in any way.

The greatest beneficiary of this action of the Union government are the 1947 refugees/ migrants from PoK/ West Punjab of a sizeable number who though living in Jammu ever since were not given the citizenship of the State.

BJP pursued this agenda single mindedly from day one and saw to it that the promise was fulfilled. We are happy these unfortunate people have got the citizenship rights and their suffering is mitigated.

The BJP government and the Lt Gov never visited Jagti refugee camp and never enquired about the problems of nearly fifty thousand of its inhabitants. He never called the residual Pandit minority members in the valley to know from them their problems and solutions.

The Lt Governor never thought of politically empowering the displaced Pandits by impressing upon the Central government that it should create 4-5 electoral constituencies in exile for the displaced persons.

A valley-based Muslim youth clandestinely crosses the border and joins the terrorist training camp in PoK, receives training in arms and subversion, clandestinely sneaks back into the valley, hurls bombs on the security forces, shoots at policemen and kidnaps civilians to hold them as hostage, then runs back to PoK, marries there, produces children and continues to receive financial support of ISI or the terrorist organizations of Pakistan, and one fine morning decides to return along with Pakistani wife and half a dozen children by her adopting the Nepal route. Once back in Kashmir valley, the local government offers him asylum, withdraws all criminal charges against him, provides him with shelter and bank loan to build a house, provides him timber and tin and building material on throwaway price and then provides him with a job and looks to his needs and that of his family. In one case the Pakistani wife of a surrendered terrorist fills the form for membership of DDC and wins. 

Against this, the Pandits are not allowed to return and resettle or to be entitled to constituency in exile. Where are the constitutional rights of the displaced community? There is hardly a day when Lt Gov Sinha does not visit one or the other Muslim organization/ institution/ establishment in the Valley, enquires about their activity and offers lakhs of rupees by way of support/ encouragement or goodwill.

Did he visit a single temple in the valley to ask the stones how they were destroyed and broken into pieces? No he has no urgency. Why does not the Lt Gov take any step in the direction of finding a legal way of taking over the control of the temples and shrines of Kashmir by constituting a temple and shrines board as is the case with the Awqaf or SAD? Why is he complacent about Hindu shrines and temples? Because the Pandits are numerically insignificant and not anybody’s vote bank they receive a scurvy treatment. 

Has the Lt Gov interacted with the Pandit intellectuals and seniors to start a discussion on the return and rehabilitation of the community? What sense does it carry to raise 6 thousand flats for the Pandit employees and allot them the accommodation? When the employee retires, what will be his fate and that of his family? Does Indian secularism in Kashmir mean giving a couple of thousands of class III or class IV jobs to the displaced people and close the chapter?

We would like to put a question to the LG. “Mr. LG, do you understand what it means for a non-Muslim religious miniscule minority to live with an overwhelming Muslim majority when the government is out to appease the majority by all means possible fair or foul?” “Mr LG, do you know the fundamentals of Islamic religion, culture and polity?”

It is necessary to convey to the honourable LG that the Kashmiri Pandit community is not one that will be fouled and abused a second time. We have broken the shackles after a long slavery of seven or eight hundred years, and we will not slip back into the old phenomenon.


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