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Pandits will return on their own terms

December 17, 2003

In recent weeks, we have once again seen some chattering by local Jammu & Kashmir politicians, national politicians and Islamic terrorists about the return of Kashmiri Hindus to the Kashmir valley. Various forums, commissions, me-too-NGOs have propped up to talk about how Kashmiri Hindus can be resettled back in the valley.

One such front is a four-member Committee of National Minority Commission on rehabilitation of Kashmiri Hindus. Former Jammu and Kashmir chief secretary Musa Raza is leading the team. Other members of the delegation include Maulana Shafi Moonis, vice-president Jamaat-I-Islami Hind, Dr Qasim Rasool Isyas, All India Muslim Personal Law Board and Dr Navad Hamid, Movement for Empowerment of Muslim Indians. The modus operandi of this front is to visit Kashmir to create an 'atmosphere' in which Kashmiri Hindus can return to the valley with honor and dignity.

There is another facade (they call it a NGO) 'Maytri' floated by Taj Mohi-u-Din, a minister in Mufti Mohammed Sayeed's J&K government. The objective of this front too is to help Kashmiri Hindus return to Kashmir.

Taj Mohi-u-Din is apparently joined by 24 Kashmiri intellectuals -- retired judges, academicians, lawyers, writers and some journalists. Due to security concerns, he is not yet identifying these 24 intellectuals. His proposed plan is a cruel joke. This minister, who had the audacity to say that only 100 odd Kashmiri Hindus were killed during this latest ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus, needs to study history and then remember it. As per his proposed plan, his first step is to approach
the imams of the villages and other Muslim leaders in the valley. This is what he has proposed:

''Once they (imams) are motivated, they can convince the villagers through Friday congregations. The youth, if motivated and mobilised, will go out of the way to make arrangements for the safe return of Kashmiri Pandits.'

'Kashmiri Muslims never wanted the Pandits out, it was just the fear psychosis.'

Has Taj Mohi-u-Din heard the venomous threats that were blasted through mosques' loudspeakers during late 1989 and early 1990? Has he seen the advertisements published in Kashmiri newspapers during the late 1980s and early 1990s? Does he know that those advertisements demanded Kashmiri Hindus to leave Kashmir within 24 hours or be killed? Does he remember the slogans in which Islamic terrorists demanded that they want Kashmir without Kashmiri Hindu males but with Kashmiri Hindu females? Does he remember all that? And he has the gall to say that Kashmiri Muslims never wanted the Pandits out? And where were those Kashmiri Muslims when their Kashmiri Hindu neighbors were getting raped and killed and dead bodies were being thrown in the middle of the road? Where were they? Acting like moot spectators makes them equally responsible.

It is one of the greatest tragedies in free democratic India when it is projected that Kashmiri Hindus' return to their own homes and hearth is dependent upon an imam in a Kashmir village. What can be worse than that? Are we saying it has come to such a pass that we are leaving everything to an imam? Taj Mohi-u-Din and all of us need to look back into history and see who was responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus. Those people who are ignorant and need more information, need to at least read the following books:

  • Under the Shadow of Militancy -- The Diary of an unknown Kashmiri by Tej N Dhar
  • Lost Rebellion by Manoj Joshi (at least Pages 61 to 70)

Here is an excerpt from Manoj Joshi's book:

'G K Muju was a lecturer at the Medical College in Srinagar and a working committee member of the Kashmiri Pandit Conference. In February 1990, Muju was told that his name had been seen in hit lists passed by the militants in some mosques in the city. The following month, his family went through a number of harrowing incidents: people throwing stones at his house, mysterious phone calls, and so on. On 6 March, Muju, his wife and children left. However his eighty-year old father, a retired teacher, and his seventy-five-year old mother stayed behind. On 6 July, some intruders entered the house and brutally knifed the old couple to death. Nothing was taken away from their house.'

Did you notice the mention of mosques in this piece of factual information? And who runs these mosques? Yes, you guessed it right. 'Imam' is the right answer.

The above mentioned two books will remind ignorant people and those who have their heads buried in sand, how Kashmiri Hindus were mercilessly killed by Islamic zealots. And who promoted and harbored those Islamic zealots? Some of the imams Taj Mohi-u-Din wants to approach. Have we already forgotten the threats we heard coming out of mosques during the night of January 19, 1990?

Some of the imams were inside those mosques allowing all that to happen and possibly even participating in those
threats. And we are now going to talk to these imams to motivate them to take Kashmiri Hindus back? Is that what we have to do?

A few days back, Hurriyat/JKLF leader and terrorist Yasin Malik said the Pandits should keep themselves out of the political process. He said: 'They should remain neutral in the ongoing struggle, and lead a normal, peaceful life, without involving themselves.'

What exactly is Yasin Malik proposing? Is he saying that he has a fundamental right of self-determination and Kashmiri Hindus don't have a right to exercise their fundamental right of political voice? A terrorist can have a political voice and a peace-loving patriot cannot. What kind of standard is that?

Yasin Malik seems to be delusional. Let us remind him that Kashmiri Hindus are the only original inhabitants of the Kashmir valley and nobody on the face of this earth can deny them the right to their homeland. Kashmir belongs to Kashmiri Hindus. It has belonged to them since its inception and will continue to belong to them. Yasin Malik and his cronies cannot take away Kashmiri Hindus' fundamental right to live in their own homeland with full dignity, honor, security and rights.

In my honest opinion, it has been a grave mistake on the part of Kashmiri Hindus that they have never been seriously politically active in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. And it has proven to be a big disadvantage. It is about time that Kashmiri Hindus float a serious political party and actively engage in the politics of Jammu & Kashmir.

Kashmiri Hindus need to create their own political clout by creating their own vote bank. The vote bank they would create will help them in getting a seat at the negotiation table.

For all those self-styled peace-missionaries, for any reconciliation the first pre-requisite is to bring out the truth. In any such 'Truth and Reconciliation' commissions, you will first see the Truth and then the Reconciliation. And the first truth that has to be brought out is the truth about the people who are responsible for this worst ethnic cleansing that happened in Kashmir.

The first step in any approach has to be to convict the people who have been responsible for this ethnic cleansing. They cannot and should not go scot-free. Anybody who forgets that and allows it to happen will be held equally responsible for the worst ethnic cleansing of a particular community in the recent history of India.

Decent people should not forget that there are children in the Kashmiri Hindu community who don't have fathers because some Islamic terrorist killed their fathers. There are girls in this community who don't have brothers because an Islamic terrorist killed their brothers and then hid behind an imam in a mosque. And they were killed only because they were Kashmiri Hindus and believed in the Indian tri-color. If somebody is giving you some other reason and you are buying that, I would like to talk to you.

Let it be known to one and all that Kashmiri Hindus will surely return to their sacred homeland and will return on their own terms. Neither Mufti Sayeed nor Yasin Malik will dictate when and how Kashmiri Hindus can return to their cherished homes and hearth.

Lastly, a little advice to Taj Mohi-u-Din, Musa Raza, Yasin Malik et al: If there is anybody who will decide the time and manner in which Kashmiri Hindus will return to the abode of Kashyapa, it will be Kashmiri Hindus.

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