Rediff India Abroad
 Rediff India Abroad Home  |  All the sections


The Web

India Abroad

Sign up today!

Article Tools
Email this article
Top emailed links
Print this article
Contact the editors
Discuss this article
Home > News > Columnists > Lalit Koul

The real tragedy of Kashmir

March 25, 2003

Tum aankhon ki barsaat bachaaye hue rakhna;
Kuch log abhi aag lagaana nahin bhoole!

[Save your tears for now, my dear;
Some people have not yet tired of setting fires!]

A telecom engineer in Kashmir peeked out of his balcony to see if it was safe to venture out. He saw two men toting their guns outside, waiting for him to come out.

A neighbour who had seen the engineer in his balcony informed the gun-toting men. Within minutes, doors were being slammed. The engineer and his family looked at each other and said their final good byes. His wife persuaded him to hide in a rice canister in the attic. The two men barged into the house and demanded to see the engineer. His wife tried to dodge them by telling them that her husband was out on duty.

The men would not listen. They searched thehouse and found the engineer in the attic.They did notallow him to climb out, and unloaded their Kalashnikovsinto the rice canister.

The white rice turned red. The remaining gunny bags in the attic soaked the spilled blood. His wailing widow pleaded with them to kill her as well. They would not.They told her they wanted her to suffer for the rest of her life, mourningher husband.

The engineer was Mr Deepak Ganju, a Kashmiri Hindu. His neighbour was a Kashmiri Muslim.

April 30, 1990 was a normal day in the lives of the residents of Shali village in Kashmir's Anantnag district. But the evening was not the same. As the sun was setting on the village, three armed men knocked at the door of a poet andteacher who had taught manyresidents of his village.

The armed men ordered him to accompany them to their camp forquestioning. Sensing something amiss the teacher's son insistedhe would accompany his father.

The dreadful news came after two days of painful anxiety. Two dead bodies were found hanging with their limbs broken, hair uprooted, and portions of their skin slit open and burnt. The dead poet and teacher were 67-year-old Kashmir Hindu Pandit Sarvanand Koul 'Premi' and his son Pandit Virendra Koul.

On May 2, 1990, a man, his wife and his male cousin were having dinner when four armed men asked the trio to accompany them. Three innocent lives were taken to the assigned place ofexecution near a mosque on the banks of theJhelum.

When the executioners shot the manfrom point-blank range the cousin jumped into the river and swam to safety. The man's body was kept in the mosque for the night and then thrown into the river. The wife was alsokilled;her corpsetied with a stone and thrown into the Jhelum. Herbody was never recovered. The dead couple was Professor K L Ganju of the Sopore Agricultural College and his wife -- forsaken Kashmiri Hindus.

These are notfantasy stories. These are true stories about innocent victimsmercilessly killed by Islamic terrorists in Kashmir. The true stories of Kashmiri Hindusethnically cleansed from their place of birth. True stories ofunsung heroes who laid down their lives because they believed in the Indian Tricolour. True stories of those fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters who lost their lives because they believed in onereligion.

Deepak Ganju, Professor K L Ganju, Sarvanand Premi of the Kashmir valley did not deserve this. They were as peaceful as a lotus in the Dal lake. They did not terrorise anybody to deserve such treatment. They did not force anybody else to believe in theirreligion. Instead they believed inthe 'live and let live' philosophy. But what they got in return was death.

So what is Kashmir's real tragedy?

Is it lack of political freedom for Kashmiri Muslims? Is it lack of economic prosperity for Kashmiri Muslims? Is it lack of autonomy for local Kashmiri politicians and their cronies? No, No and No.

The real tragedy of Kashmir is those innocent victims who lost their freedom of basic living. The freedom to live. It is those innocent victims' relentless longing to return to their loving homes. It has been more than 13 years since Kashmiri Hindus and other minorities in the Kashmir valley were forced to run for their lives. Incidents of grotesque violence against innocent Kashmiri Hindus were the stark realities of those times. Those were the situations under which Kashmiri Hindus fledtheirhomes.

Since then 400,000 Kashmiri Hindus have been living in deplorable conditions as refugees in their own country. Some misguided politicians and pseudo-secular columnists might tell youit was Jagmohan,then the governor of Jammu andKashmir, who forced Kashmiri Hindus to leave Kashmir. (That is what some readers of my last columnon rediff said.)

But there is nothing farther from the truth than this ridiculous theory. It is an unfortunate tragedy that these politicians and pseudo-secularist columnists cannot see beyond their nose, cannot see the crimes committed against Kashmiri Hindus (the three cases citedinthis column are three out of hundreds of such cases) and instead come out withpreposterous theories withoutvalid data. I am sure these people cansee the tragedies, butchoose to ignore them because that is what suits theiragenda.

In the last 13 years, governments have come and gone in India. Human rights commissioners have come and gone. But none of them has given any credence to the plight of Kashmiri Hindus. And why should they? Kashmiri Hindus have been tolerant, non-violent, peace-loving patriots. They have not and will not engage in any kind of violence.

So why would any government or human rights commission care for them?

That is the real tragedy of Kashmir.


24 Pandits killed in Kashmir

Lalit Koul is a member of the US-based Kashmir News Network and editor of a monthly journal Kashmir Herald

Guest Column


Copyright 2005 India Limited. All Rights Reserved.