From the writing of Prof K.L Bhan
The Seventh Exodus
The wounds inflicted on the Kashmiri Hindus in the 1986 disturbances were not allowed to heal. Looking back now the episode looks like a mild arm twisting of the State administration and that of the so-called mighty India to gauge their real might and will-power to deal with recurrence of such disturbing situations. The unexpected speed with which anti-India and anti-Kashmiri Hindu designs, the seeds of which read been sown over the years, began to unfold themselves was the most terrifying thing about it. The madrasas financed and run by the Jamait-e-Islami had poisoned the mind of the younger generation with Islamic fundamentalism under dictation from the theocratic Pakistan. The Jamaite-Islami activists had crept into the services at a large scale. They had found their way even into the top rung of the State machinery and also influenced and won the members of the bureaucracy that crossed over to their side. So for all practical purposes the State bureaucracy was hand in glove with pro-Pak elements and forces that had most sinister plans up their sleeves.
Though Dr. Farooq Abdullah saddled himself in power by allegedly rigged elections in 1987, the power had, as a matter of fact, slipped from his hands. The Muslim United Front, a new fangled Muslim outfit owing political allegiance to Pakistan did not take its defeat at the busting lying down and vowed to get its own back. A monster with virulent fangs was harnessing itself for the charge. The Government headed by the nincompoop chief minister was too inefficient to crush the monster raising its horrible head. Law and order machinery that had developed cracks became steadily defunct. Farooq Abdullah openly admitted having sent numerous Kashmiri Muslim youth to Pak for training in arms. He released about seventy of them soon after they had been arrested. It is clear that armed insurgency and subversive activities were receiving state patronage and protection. Soon the forces inimical to secularism and democracy, having got sufficiently pretty good time and long rope found the time ripe for sounding alarm calls of terrorism which before long became the rage through out the length and breadth of Kashmir Valley.
Then entered Gen. Zia-Ul-Haq into the Kashmir arena. Addressing a top secret meeting in April, 1988 at Islamabad he said, "Gentlemen, let there be no mistake, however, that our aim remains quite clear and firm the liberation of the Kashmir Valley. Our Muslim Kashmiri brothers can't be allowed to stay with India for any length of time now. The Kashmiris have a few qualities, which we can exploit. First, his shrewdness and intelligence; second his power to persevere under pressure, and the third, if I may say so, he is a master of political intrigue. If we provide him with means through which he can utilize these qualities he will deliver the goods". Spelling out his methods of combat in terms of moral and physical means 'he singled the Kashmiri Muslims to get hold of the power apparatus of the State by political subversion and intrigue and seek collaboration of favoured politicians' for subverting all organs of the State. He went on to say to elaborate his Kashmir Plan "OP TOPAC" we plant our chosen men in all the key positions to subvert the police force, financial institutions, the communication net work, whip up anti-Indian feelings amongst the students and peasants preferably on some religious issues. Detailed plans for the liberation of Kashmir Valley and establishment of an independent Islamic State in the third phase will follow".
The speech of Gen. Zia-UI-Haq speaks volumes for the on going insurgency and terrorism in Kashmir Valley and Doda and which is now escalating to other parts of the State. The message to the Kashmiri Muslim was loud and clear and urgent declaration of Jehad, holy war, against the infidels ruling from New Delhi. But the beginning was to be made with hitting the Kashmiri Pandit, a very soft and easy and non-retaliating target. Give the dog a bad name and kill it, they say. That is what they did with the Kashmiri Pandit. Posters were pasted outside Mosques and at selected busy places labeling KPs as agents of India and branding them as traitors; accusing that the KPs had always and invariably acted as traitors and stabbed in the back of Kashmiri Muslims and their sectarian movements. It was quite easy to incite the motivated, indoctrinated Muslim youth in particular and other Muslims in general, and make them rally one and all under a religious theme to fight the enemy, the KP in the first instance. Thus fundamentalists axe felt on the KP and drew the first blood. The fundamentalists exhibiting their terrorist credentials included government employees more than most police officials. The Muslim policeman posted for the security of the Mahant at Vicharnag killed with his rifle butt the Mahant Pandit Keshav Nath, for refusing to embrace Islam. The savage killer Mohd. Yusuf, represented only the tip of the iceberg of the all pervading deeply embedded fanaticism, religious prejudice and intolerance. The truth about the motive and intentions of the frenzied Kashmiri Muslims obsessed with Islamic fundamentalism and was no longer concealed. Their battle against Hindu Indian would be half won by decimating the KPs, by the ethnic cleansing.
This immediate goal with far reaching consequences had, been dinned into the ears of the rank and file of Kashmiri Muslims by all from within and without the State in unmistakable terms. The Allah-Wallahs rode rough shod on idol worshipping Hindus and openly exhorted and urged their mammoth congregations to concentrate all their attention and efforts for the establishment of Nizame Mustafa. The KPs scanned the public mood, the collaborative nuances of the government and the trends of the future. They became wary but did not lose faith in the saner leadership among the worked up Muslims and the capability of the Central Government to act to shield its cherished values of secularism, religious freedom, pluralism, national integrity and solidarity. It proved a highly mistaken conviction that got shattered more easily than most brittle glass at one jolt.
Days went by and each day saw the floating of a new terrorist and militant outfit. Their number went on swelling steadily but surely. JKLF had been there in the vanuard. Among others that crept up were AI-Jehad, Dukhtarane Milat, Muslim Janbaz force, Ikhwan-ul-Muslameen, Allah Tigers, Hizbul-Mujahideen and many more by scores. Hindu temples, shrines and their properties came to be attacked, looted and damaged or torched not to speak of Hindu houses. This after all, did not augur well for the KPs. All was not well for them. The rot had set at work, the canker had eaten into the entrails of communal harmony. The Islamic bigots and frenzied zealots gone crazy were prowling about drawing up their lines for whole sale onslaught. The air, the mist, the sunshine, the good earth, the whole environment tingled and vibrated with threats of danger in security, instability and gory days ahead. There was no lull, a storm was brewing.
Frightened Pigeons that was what the KPs felt like. This feeling was not anything new to the KPs. History bears eloquent testimony to the fact that since the coming of Muslim rule till today Kashmiri Pandits have been the worst victims of terrorist violence. The recent trouble in the Valley started in 1989 when some miscreants masquerading as followers of Islam began to frighten the Kashmiri Hindu Community and others by resorting to violence. "Within a span of a few years not less than 300,000 members of the Hindu minority had to leave their hearths and home, they are now leading a miserable life in the camps at Jammu, Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar and other places, " writes Himanshu Shanker Jha (HT, August 15, 1995). The writer further adds " It may be recalled that the first mass exodus of Pandits started 500 years ago when an irreligious despot, Sultan Sikander made a proclamation that if a Hindu did not become a Muslim he must either leave the country or be killed; the persecution of Pandits continued during Aurangzeb's regime too. Teg Bahadurji the 9th Sikh Guru boldly faced death at Chandni Chowk in Delhi in 1675 to protect the lives and honour of Kashmiri Pandits".
Subsequent to the passing away of the great son and iron man of India, Saradar Vallabhai Patel, no Central Government had noticeable hold on the State bureaucracy and the local leadership. The Indian army stationed in the State was sitting on the fence and non-interfering and, therefore, a mute witness to all that was happening in Greater Kashmir. Perhaps they had no role for anything other than disposing off surplus diesel and petrol all along the National Highway from Nandni (Jammu to Barsoo, Anantnag).
In free democratic socialistic and secular India too, the KPs were direct and easy targets for humiliation, and vandalism at the hands of the Kashmiri Muslims. The Jews desecrated the Aqsa Mosque in distant Israel but the poor KP had to pay for it through his nose. For what fault? He was a Hindu and belonged to the minority community. Passing through the Hindu localities of the city of Srinagar the angry demonstrators protesting against the Jewish high handedness shouted 'Yeh tamasha nahi hai, yeh matam dari hai' if a Hindu dared look from a window above or if one passing by the roadside stopped to look on. An anecdote of those days comes to my mind and is worth mentioning here. Two ladies, one European and the other a national leader, Mrs. Krishna Hathi Singh on a tour of the valley, were staying at Nedous Hotel. They came out on the verandah to have a look at the passing protestors. The fanatics, crazy with religious frenzy and fervor rushed through the lawns and caught hold of the two ladies. Without being severe to them they only thrashed their pelvic regions and loins with fresh nettle that produced red spots all overthe skin affected by the nettle-sting. The ladies moaned and groaned with pain and mental agony. The European lady had to get hospitalized for a couple of days and on recovery she said she had traveled widely and she had widely read but never encountered such brutality as she was made victim of. The first target incidentally of the vandalism was the Mission School at Fateh Kadal followed by two Churches in Srinagar City.
Who are these fanatics and the fundamentalists? They are not the descendents of the alien rulers like the Chaks, the Afghans and the Mughals etc. They are none other than our foster brothers, born and brought up in the Muslim culture and tradition. Gen. Zia-ul-Haq would call them Brahman Zadas. But I fail to understand their psychological standard, which is still poor, deficient, crude and coarse. Professing to be more loyal than the King, they typify the proverbial convert's zeal. When Z.A. Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan gave up his ghost at the gallows following the Machiavellian machinations of his patronized Gen. Ziaul-Haq they burnt effigies of Zia and his stooges in the Jamat-e-Islami were roasted alive. They blocked roads with uprooted trees and smashed electric and telegraph posts. The KPs, the ever frightened pigeons, remained imprisoned within their houses for many a day without water, vegetables and essential commodities because the entire Muslim community was in mourning since their liberator had been mercilessly killed by his own creation.
Now see the other side of the picture. When on 17th August 1988 Pak President Zia-ul-Haq was killed and torn into shreds in a plane crash, the Brahman Zadas repeated the mourning cry "Yeh matam hai koi tamasha nahin" as they moved in procession through lanes and by lanes and Hindu localities in particular. They coerced the KPs to switch off the lights and virtually imposed civil curfew on the bewildered and dazed KPs, the Muslim women pounded their chests and beat their breasts with closed fists and the Muslims on the whole behaved as if some dearest members of their families had died.
In his "Op Topac" aiming at the liberation of the Kashmir Valley, Zia-ul-Haq had clearly hinted at adopting a coordinated use of moral and physical means, other than military operations as methods of combat. It was just a political operation, it had tacit religious, cultural, communal aspects. The means evidently signaled an uncivilized, undemocratic, unlawful and irreligious line of action. It was a clarion call for Jehad, a holy war enjoined upon Muslims as a religious duty in the service of Islam. Which could be the best form of that service? The cut and dry method was elimination of the microscopic KPs who had ever and all along been branded as symbolic presence of India in Kashmir. There being only a handful of them, their liquidation was a simple and easy goal to be achieved and thus bring to fruition insignificant item on the Jehad agenda, that of complete, ethnic cleansing.
The path to 'azadi' began to be paved with the blood of the KPs. All Kashmiri Muslims of all shades and hues, Of all denominations and nomenclatures, converged and united, rising above their divergent conflicting beliefs and convictions, in the unholy mission of raising the edifice of 'azadi' with the bricks and mortar of the bodies and blood of KPs. The names of KPs, young and old wanted to be sacrificed in the service of Islam came to be pasted, as public posters, at the entrances of mosques in the localities where. the innocents doomed to death had been living for generations in peace and amity. The lists appeared at regular intervals and were there for any one to see. The names of the condemned stood in a sort of rank and merit or order of priority. They were dubbed as 'mukhbirs', spies working for interests of India, and hence meriting no mercy. The war against the arch enemy India was inaugurated with blowing the bugle against KPs for whom India had done no favour out of the way.
There was a mushroom growth of militant and terrorist outfits. Trained in the use of deadly sophisticated weapons and armed to teeth by Pakistan, they multiplied in scores, all moving ahead concertedly with the plan of striking terror, all pervasive terror, before embarking on a spree of preplanned murders.
All news papers published from Srinagar carried no news worth the name other than declarations like 'Mein Mukhbir nahin Noon' (I am not a spy) 'Ailane la taaluqui' (confession of parting links with political parties and serving of such affiliations) and open unmistakable threats to the KPs of dire consequences for their past and present anti-movement (anti azadi) and traitorous behaviour. Thus the message of the terrorists that Muslims of Kashmir should gear themselves up and be in readiness to pounce and swoop upon the soft target, the defenseless KPs, reached every home. The developments in Romania and Chekoslovakia became models for the insurgents who believed that following these models for their goal of azadi was almost a foregone conclusion and a matter of days. The religious frenzy and Islamic euphoria was on a spiral surge.
The terrorists were emboldened beyond their expection when almost half a dozen hardcore terrorist were released in exchange for kidnapped Rubia, daughter of the Union Home Minister Mufti Mohd. Syed. By abjectly surrendering to the demand of the terrorists the Central and State Governments licked the dust and acquiesced in the wide spread belief that the terrorists were a power to reckon with. The follies galore of the two Governments boosted up the morale of the militants and terrorists tremendously.
They marched on making one inroad after another. Suddenly mosques boomed and zoomed day in and day out with pro-jehadand anti-India and anti-Kaffir (anti-Hindu) slogans, speeches, sermons and discourses. No relevant superlative can convey the degree of venomous and provocative propaganda blared at maximum pitch from the mosques. At night they beat empty tin canes and tin roofs to inject terror into the mind of KPs. Several shocks had already been given to them including a sizeable warning and threats in black and white through some dailies that the KPs must quit the Valley within 48 hours or overstay on pain of death. The Alsafa edited by Mohd. Shaban Vakil was in the vanguard publishing these gory threats. This paper virtually became the mouth peace of the terrorists and played a capital role in fanning its flames and carrying them to remote corners of the Valley. Ironically Mohd. Shaban Vakil was gunned down in his office in April 1991 for having criticized a militant group. But by then he had been instrumental more than anybody else in inflicting maximum damage to the KPs in his vocal advocacy of the terrorist cause. 'Aftab' and 'Azaan' joined in the choice songs in praise of the mujahids. And incidentally now 'Ahadnama Kashmir' witten by Sonaullah Bhat tracing the history of the state from the Buddhist period to recent times, stands banned by AL-Fateh force and the AI-Faran.
The night of January 19, 1990 will remain the most unforgettable one in the memory of every Kashmiri Pandit child who had attained age of consciousness of surroundings, and grownup men and women. That night stands singled out as the harbinger of the terrible catastrophe which beforelong engulfed the panic-stricken unfortunate community. That night flood gates broke open and the world resounded with war cries inciting the Muslims that it was time they came out into the streets breaking the chains of slumber, to welcome the ringing of the dawn of a new and Islamic order. That night seemed to be fated to ring out the life of every Kashmiri Pandit child, man and woman. That night signaled that all was over with them. That night tolled the knell of what Kashmir and oft-quoted Kashmiriat symbolized. No male Muslim man or child stayed back in doors but streamed out to swell the crowds whose shouts of 'death to India', death to Kafirs rent the skies from Qazigund to Karnah. That night in the pall of darkness the land of rishis would get saturated with the warm blood of Kafirs. That night demons masquerading as neighbours, friends, co-workers came out in true colours, for a sea change had swept over the so-called peace loving Kashmiri Muslims. Gone with the wind was their facade of secular, tolerant, cultured educated outlook replaced by intolerant Islamic fundamentalist stance. The urbane and the rustic, the high and the low, all rubbed shoulders in wild frenzy in their common war against the KPs huddled up together indoors while their fate hung in balance. They read the clear writing on the wall, their days in their native land were numbered and they must catch time by the forelock to escape the impending doom. The seventh exodus was surely in the offing. The pusillanimous Central and State Governments had neither the will nor where with all to crush the monster of Islamic fundamentalism that had entrenched itself in the Islamic Republic of Kashmir. The terrorist living and acting in absolute fidelity to bear creed of intolerance emanating from Muslim fundamentalism set in motion the Juggernaut of physical liquidation of KPs on selective basis. The terrorist outfit Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front stole the march over other groups. The terrorists who were never tried of styling themselves as followers of Islam, as their camp followers still do, adopted the evil policy 'kill one and frighten one thousand'. It was in pursuance of this policy that 1000 KPs were butchered in 1990. The terrorist outfits vied with one another in out Heroding, Herod and devised so barbarous and horrendous methods of torture and murder that would make Sikandar the iconoclast, the Hamadani rulers, the Chaks and the Afghans turn in their graves and salute their present progeny for improving upon and breaking all their records in savagery and inhumanity. Have you ever before heard of or read of such cruel acts of violence as stitching the lips of the victim before killing him and nailing the chest and feet of the poor man till he bled to death? Those who crucified Christ were kinder.
The implementation of the policy began with extinguishing the beacon lights among the KPs comprising intelligentsia, the political workers, professors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, well placed officers in the State and Central Governments and others. The stale and hackneyed accusation or charge in every act of murder was that they had indulged in anti-azadi activities. There was not to reason why? There was not to ask why? The terrorists had their own interrogation centers and courts awarding penalties and death sentences. Very few KPs were afforded opportunity to explain their position or prove their innocence. There was the Jamate-Islamiinjunction and commandment "Bahas Mubahasa se perhez Karen" (shun argumentation). So the allegedly unwanted and undesirable persons were killed summarily and point blank in lanes and by lanes, streets, thoroughfares, in offices, at homes, any where the choice was that of the killer who more often than not made a show of his chivalry in the Islamic tradition by gunning down a poor KP in full public view so as to earn the appellation and applause for being a mujahid. Kill an unarmed, defenseless person caught unawares and become a mujahid. JKLF drew first blood with the pre-planned murder of Shri Tika Lal Taploo, an advocate and prominent and vocal member of the provincial wing of BJP. He fell to terrorists bullets quite near his house. He had always helped and served the Muslims of his locality without any compensation and was very popular with them. The Muslims of his locality mourned his death and joined the mammoth funeral procession. His death sent a powerful tremor down the spine of the KP community and caused real tangible concern. The ground had been broken for the vicious process to gather momentum. As days passed the heads of prominent KPs rolled down. No day passed without registering the murder of an innocent KP here and there. Shri N.K. Ganjoo, a retired Judge was gunned down at an arm length in broad day light in Hari Singh High Street, Srinagar. The dead body lay in a pool of blood with no police anywhere and no Hindu daring to touch it, lift it or cover even with a sheet of paper. The Muslim passers by and shopkeepers watched the scene with jubilant faces and hilarious hearts. Much later Muslim policemen removed a dead body dragging it in the manner of dead dog. The scene was televised a number of times.
It became a common place to hear Kashmiri Muslims greeting one another with the gleeful news of the fall of a KP. The day angered well if the day dawned with fresh warm blood of a KP. A medieval tribal trait still alive in Kashmiri Muslim mind despite the gloss of advancement in its modern sense.
Those who know Shri P.N. Bhat, a front rank advocate practicing at Anantnag, will vouch safe how much popular he was with Muslims in his town. His skull was shattered with a volley of bullets. No Muslim uttered a word of condolence for him; why should they? It had brought glory to Muslim zealots.
Shri Lassa Koul, Director, Doordarshan Kendra, Srinagar, was gunned down just outside his house at Bemina. He was returning home at night after doing his duty. Even a layman could suspect the foul play of DD employees in his dastardly murder.
Shri R.N. Handoo, P.A. to Governor, was killed outside the gate of his house at Narsinghgarh just as he was entering the official vehicle to take him to his office.
The next day, in its early hours, witnessed the merciless and brutal killing of Shri B.K. Ganju, a young budding and extraordinarily intelligent and efficient Telecom Engineer, within his home at Chotta Bazar, Srinagar. He hid in a charcoal drum and the assailants failing to find him were about to leave when his neighbours whom he trusted too much redirected the blood thirsty savages to conduct a research. A dozen bullets were pumped into the drum killing the helpless trapped weak man. When his young widow appealed to the jubilant killers to shoot here down along with her two baby daughters, they marched out chuckling "who would mourn over his dead body?"
The following day heralded the murder of Shri A.K. Raina, Deputy Director, Food & Supplies, Srinagar by terrorists in his office. It was literally dying in harness. His subordinates stood aloof and watched the proceeding joyfully.
Prof. Nila Kanth Lala, MA (Political Science, History and Education), extensively read and informed person, with a gift of gab, in fact an institution in himself, was done to death by his own Muslim taught of his own area. After his retirement from Government service he had been serving in Islamic Higher Secondary School; What a reward?
Prof. K.L. Ganjoo an agricultural scientist at Sheri Kashmir University of Agriculture Science & Technology at Wodhura Sopore (his home town) was kidnapped and tortured by his own Muslim students and friends before he was shot dead while wading the Jehlum under dictation from the terrorists. His wife Prana Ganjoo was kidnapped and gangraped and then dismembered. Her body was not returned to her relatives.
The followers of Nizam-e-Mustafa revived the medieval barbaric age when Shri Brij Nath Kaul, a driver in SKUAST, Shalimar campus, Srinagar was tied by his feet to a jeep driven by the terrorists. Muslims praying five times day, witnessed the ghastly manner of dealing out death and enjoyed his defacement. This belittles the brutalities of the Afghan rulers of Kashmir.
Shri D.N. Mujoo had done a lot for educating the Muslim youth of his area, Fateh Kadal, Srinagar before he moved Rawalpora. Besides being a Theosophist, an unassuming Scholar, an educationist who took pains to experiment 'with J. Krishnamurti's dynamic thoughts on education, Shri Mujoo was all his life a real teacher. An old man of over 70 years, tall and healthy he passed his time in philosophical contemplation. He did not dabble in any politics and was least dangerous. Yet the terrorists intruded into his house seized him and stabbed ruthlessly at the dead of night. His wife was also assaulted and injured but left as 'dead'. The poor old man bled pale and cold.
Shri Sarvanand Koul 'Premi' truly brimmed with love for all. A distinguished poet in Kashmiri he contributed much to ennrich the Kashmiri Literature. He translated the Bhagvat Geeta into Kashmiri verse. He had a copy of the Holy Quran besides the Hindu scriptures in his library. Destroying is library was not enough. The terrorist hounds led Premi and his son Virender some distance away from his house. His forehead was nailed at the tilakmark, his eyes were carved out; his limbs and bones were broken; his body was aeced and then butchered in the same manner. What impressive examples of Islamic tolerance!
Smt. Sarla Bhat, a nurse in SKIMS Srinagar was suspected of being an informer since the institute was a den of other terrorists who included members of the faculty as well. At the behest of Dr. A. A. Guru she was gang raped by a number of Muslim bad characters of degraded order before she was stripped naked, mauled and murdered in a shameless manner that no human being born of woman can conceive. She was thrown on the road for all to see what respect they had for womenfolk.
Smt. Girja a school teacher in Bandipora had gone to school to collect her salary and called on a friendly Muslim colleague. The architects of Nizama-e-Mustafa kidnapped her from there with the Muslim lady restraining herself from interceding and thwarting the evil designs of the Islamic zealots. The possession of her body was halal; according to religious injection. They gang raped her, ripped open her abdomen, placed her on band saw and sawed her into two halves.
Kumari Babli and her mother Smt. Roopwati of Pulwama met a horrible end at the hands of terrorist brutes.
Shri Balkrishen Tutoo, an officer in agriculture department became the victim of callous bloodthirsty militants who barged into his house to abduct and kill his brother. Tutoo pleaded for mercy and resisted, he was fired and critically wounded. He was rushed to the hospital where the doctors on duty allegedly completed rest of the work.
Mustaq Latram for whose release the AI-Faran outfit wants release of the four foreign hostages was allegedly involved in the gruesome murder of four members of a family at Mallapora, Habbakadal, Srinagar. The victims at the instance of some neighbours gunned down Jawahar Lal Ganjoo, Mrs. Ganjoo, Badri Nath Koul and his wife Lalla, living under one roof, leaving behind two unmarried daughters and two innocent teenaged boys and an old 85 years paralytic mother.
Asha Koul was abducted from Achabal-Anantnag. She was taken to a KP migrants abandoned house in Srinagar and gang raped for many days and tortured. Her body was found in a decomposed state in the very house on 8th August in 1991.
Babli Raina, R/o Sopore a teacher was gang raped in her house in presence of her family members on 13th August 1990, before she was killed an act we have never heard or read in the recent history of any civilized country. There are many more reported and unreported cases of brutal and hair-raising treatment meted out to women as memorable examples of Islamic gallantry.
No religion enjoins upon its followers such inhuman, cruel and unnatural acts. And the Muslims more educated in number than the uneducated ones hailing from well to do homes indoctrinated and motivated by Pakistan Government backed ISI prowled about like man eaters looking for KP victims. Killings were carried on and unabated in ever new devised forms that beat all past records of cruelty and ferocity during the 500 years of Muslim rule in Kashmir. The KPs went or receiving threatening letters, death warrants and highly disturbing telephone calls not in-joke but in real meaningfulness. For paucity of space I cannot allude to comprehensive details brutal and ruthless murders of hundreds of Sarlas, Rainas, Ganjoos, Tikoos, Kouls, Mujus, Tutoos and so on. Hundreds of KP martyrs who fell at the altar of Indian secularism and the splendid heritage of India have remained unsung.
The KPs remained at the receiving end, the terrorists were ruling the roost as the gun had given them unfettered liberty and power to kill, where and when they chose. Even teenagers and boys under ten could be seen openly carrying lethal weapons slinging down their shoulders under their pherens. The unrestrained hunting of the cream of the KPs became as much a pastime as it was a well planned and calculated design to achieve ethnic cleansning with the ulterior aim to establish Islamic way of life and governance and merge the Valley with Pakistan, the so called defendant and guardian of Islam in the world. Each case of murder sent waves of shock after shock and tremor after tremor in order to shed and break the spine of the Pandits. There was no law and order worth the name as it was under the control of the terrorists who counted the shots. The collusion or nexus between the law enforcing agencies and the gun trotting terrorists was conspicuous. In fact the Kashmir Police was there as it is still now infested with anti-national elements and moles that provided protection and patronage to vandals and criminals. It was a total Muslim revolts nay, armed insurgency against the KPs as a matter of first preference.
No saner voice rose from among the enlightened literate Muslims of Kashmir. They sealed their lips, curbed their conscience and smothered their soul in astonishingly mysterious silence. Muslim ladies proved more ferocious and furious than men. Humanity and humanism in Kashmir vis-avis KPs were dead and cold and buried. Gods and Rishis seemed to have fled the valley leaving the dumb founded and bewildered KPs. It was at the total mercilessness of Islamic zealot's fanatics and fundamentalists whose writ prevailed. There was in fact, one exception: late Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq who did not toe the line of the terrorists. He had the temerity to declare that all that was un-Islamic. His voice was a cry in the wilderness and the Mujahids professing to be impassioned followers of Islam too silenced it for its nonconformity. Did the Prophet preach intolerance towards adherents of other faiths? Is this the path to the type of peace in his write up 'Tolerance is key to peace' the eminent Islamic scholar and authority on Islamic scripture Maulana Wahid-ud-Din Khan writes: 'Tolerance is not an act of compulsion. It is a positive principle of life expressing a noble side of a man's character. The existence of tolerant human beings in a society is just like blooming of flowers in a garden.'
So far as Islam is concerned it is an entirely tolerant religion. Islam desires peace to prevail in the world. The Quran calls the way of Islam the path of peace the state of peace can never prevail in a society if a tolerant attitude is "lacking in the people...." (Excelsior 2.9.95) What a sublime ideal, theoretically! But what an agonizing gulf between the ideal and the ground reality, between theory and practice of Islam as is expounded by the Maulana.
Now, when the entire Kashmiri Muslim populace was up in arms yelling out in bass and treble disaster and death to the Kafirs, meaning there by clearly and explicitly the KPs whom they, without any valid justification, alleged to be a major stumbling block and obstacle in their illusory dream of azadi and integration with Pakistan; when the Muslim leaders like Ali Shah Geelani, Qazi Nissar, Abdul Gani Lone, Prof. Saifu-Din Soz, and their ilk by their well guarded muteness concurred with the acts of loot plunder, vandalism, arson, murder and desecration of temples and shrines; when acquaintances, neighbours, friends, colleagues and co-workers bore daggers in their eyes and spat fire in their speech; when none in the majority community deemed the KP minority as God's trust with them and therefore imperative to be protected; when the KPs encountered hostility and strangulating atmosphere of insecurity within and without their homes and places of work; when their women folk were ridiculed, humiliated, physically and sexually harassed and terrorized; when their political and religious freedom were snatched from them; when their basic rights of life, property and freedom were trampled; when discussion, dissent and disagreement become a crime and irrationality and obscurantism, fanaticism and fascism became the order of the day; when the KPs were given a bad name and all sorts of notorious accusations leveled against them adding up to their being black sheep and traitors and above all when the barrels of Klashnikoves and AK-47s were vomiting bullets freely at them and respect for age and dignity of womanhood was no consideration; when in nutshell the Kashmiri Muslims, on the whole, became brutalized and impervious to the fundamentals of Kashmiri culture and heritage the KPs pondered to retrieve themselves from the traumatic and bleak situation.
What could they do? How could they pull themselves out of morass of depression and mounting tension eating into their entrails and sapping their vitality? How could they manage to pull on when life became intolerable and they became prisoners feeling choked in foul contaminated air? How could this essentially peace loving, non-violent, non-aggressive, liberal, secular community of 4% completely unarmed choose to go on warpath against the majority of 96% armed to the teeth and financed by a hostile neighbouring power? How could they bear with the indignity and insult, which their womenfolk were subjected to? Could they forget their racial memories of their faith and honour during the repressive rule of the Sultans, the Chaks and the Afghans? History was repeating itself and they had to rise to the occasion which was clearly on the cards of the terrorists who had sold their souls to satan. The seventh exodus was forced on the KPs and the most regrettable thing about is that it happened in secular India that claims J&K to be an integral and inalienable part of the Republican, the most precious jewel in the crown of India, whose President and the Prime Minister are both Hindus.
The insurrection of the Kashmiri Muslims could, for the sake of argument, be defended were it directed against injustices and lapses, omissions and commissions of the Central and the State Governments from time to time or that it was the outcome of economic and educational neglect of the Kashmiri Muslim alone. They are more affluent than the other segment of population in the whole J&K state and many other states in India. They are more than enough pampered lot. their advancement in every aspect of life during the last about fifty years has been phenomenal; they have come a long way while as their counter parts in the other two provinces of Jammu and Ladakh are leagues behind. This is not an over statement as facts and figures speak for themselves.
The insurgency in Kashmir by the Kashmiri Muslims erupted at the behest and incitement of Pakistan essentially in the name of their religion, Islam. Several other strides like Pan-Islamism, world Muslim brotherhood, conquest of the World by Islam in the Hitlerian fashion, flow of petrodollars, regional ambitions etc. were twisted to it to form a formidable force visualizing/envisaging the Islamisation of the whole of India. We who are the sons of the soil and have lived among them, have our fingers on their pulse and know their chemistry better than those sitting in the ivory towers in New Delhi and gazing on the storm raging in Kashmir. The reigns of political power have all along been in the hands of their elected representatives and bureaucracy predominantly Kashmiri Muslim. Polices and plans were formulated and shaped not in Jammu or in Leh but in Srinagar which has B1 status while as Jammu and Leh have no status at all. Political masters they were; they wanted religious, i.e. Islamic supremacy. Hence Jehad and Nizame-Mustafa. The explicit character of slogans raised and popularized drives home the irrefutable point, "Zalimo, O Kafiro Kashmir harmara chod do", Kashmir main rehna hai, Allah-ho-Akbar kahna hoga' "Musalmano jago, Kafiro bhago", "Islam hamara maqsad ha Kuran hamara dastur hai, jehad hamara rasta hai", "Kashmir banega Pakistan" and a host of other highly provocative communal, pro-Islamic, sectarian and anti-secular slogan and martial songs. As an immediate reaction there could be no other alternative for the KP than have recourse to flight from his homeland. The seventh and may be the last exodus was forced upon the KPs to get them scattered an battered in unfriendly circumstances like fish out of water and easily achieve an ethnic cleansing. The Islamic jehad had its eye on the genocide of the KPs. There is no mistake about it notwithstanding the observation of pseudo secular, shallow and hypocritical guardians of human rights. The Muslim fundamentalists at least did succeed in their avo,ed and cherished goal of ethnic cleansing and islamisatlon. if not in getting rid of Indian presence in Kashmir.
While the Islamic zealots and mujahids fired cannon shots at secularism and coexistence and Indian nationalism and buried them alive hundred fathoms deep, the Indian State watched and, waited effeminately. No amount of pressure could arouse it to action. The very corner stones of the Constitution of India were being not only questioned and challenged but also knocked out so that the entire structure of the Nation was crumbling. All cries and appeals for constitutional guarantees and safeguards and protective remedies were falling on deaf ears of the rulers smug in their vice regal mansions. Even in these circumstances the KPs sought, advice and protection from their Muslim brethren who cared least to have any communication with them. The intentions and the motives of the adversary were clear in their slogan "Asi gache Pakistan, Batav ros Batnev san (we want Pakistan, inclusive of Kashmiri women and exclusive of Kashmiri Pandits). It needs no elaboration.
In this context what could the KPs do? To whom could they look up to for a healing balm to their bruised hearts? Their leadership, if any, was in disarray. They did not need any guide or leader to give them a green signal to pack up and quit, highly literate sagacious and impregnated with sense of history as they are now. Everyone unto himself. It is travesty of truth to put the former governor Jaghmohan in the dock for having induced the KPs to flee because he had some specific drastic, line of action up his sleeve to deal with the Kashmiri Muslims up in arms and teach them a lesson leaving the KPs untouched and unscathed. It is a myth, a farce, and a figment of prejudiced Muslim imagination.
The position and State of KPs in the post independent Kashmir was like that of the sacrificial lamb bedecked with garlands of flowers, vermilion, bandanvar and other tokens of having gone through the ritualistic operation and ready to be led to the altar for the offering and in innocence licking the knife of the butcher. In the latest instance the state had failed him, defrauded him, deserted him and he stood forsaken and Forlorn. He murmured plaintively:
"Bul Bulo, Mat Ro Yeh Ansu Bahana Hai Mana,
is Kafas Kai Kaidiyo Ko Gul Machana Hai Mana.
Chod Kar Tufaan Mai Yeh Keh Kar Malah Chal Diya,
Dub Ja Manjdhar Mein Sahil Pae Aana Hai Mana.
Mai Hun Voh Fariyadi jiska Sunane Walla Chal Basa,
Mai Hu Voh Ansu jise Daman Pe Aana Hai Mana".
The Muslim and Sikh taxi drivers and truck drivers came handy and with broken bruised heart and tears streaming from his eyes a KP bade adieu to his home and hearth. Upto the moment he took leave of his Muslim neighbours and actually departed from his door, he waited and waited for Samaritans to come and assuage his agony. But the security collapse was so total that no neighbour could come orward with any degree of assurance of safety. In explicit terms they conveyed their utter helplessness even against the gun wielding fundamentalists of their mohallas, not to speak of any power and strength to prevail over the Muslim bigots from other mohallas to spare the helpless KPs from !I becoming their fair game. When all avenues and prospects of safety and security of life over and above all things were tapped and found to be unreliable and treacherous and no guarantee of life the KPs could not be naive to take chances and meet their doom wittingly. Embracing the lot of a refugee was the last and the only resort and recourse for him to I' take. When the air was resonant with shouts of Muslim big- I' ots crying extermination of the kafirs.The take over of Kashmir by the Muslim terrorists in the name of Jehad woke the KPs upto the fact that they had very little time while the terrorist's mounting capacity to destroy was keeping abreast.
Would that we had a Khushwant Singh to document the aftermath of migration, nay fleeing of the KPs from their paradise to the plains at the time of the year when it is virtual hell on this side of Patnitopl It was falling from frying pan into fire. Caravans of buses, trucks and taxies with puzzled and anguished men, women and children huddled in them looked like sheep being taken to the slaughter house. Searching questions seemed writ large all over the faces. What had they done to deserve such severe inhuman punishment? Why this banishment? Where was the protective umbrella of the State Authority? The Kashmiri Muslim intelligentsia, the Muslim press dancing to the tune of the ISI commands, terrorists belonging to numerous outfits and the Kashimiri Muslim political leaders taking oaths of loyalty to the Indian Constitution but in the depth of the heart owing allegiance to anti-India subversive force spread the canard that the Kashmiri Pandits left Kashmir on their own in search for greener pastures and that nobody compelled and coerced them to quit their homes and hearths. Living in the most advanced epoch of the 20th century and thriving on the spoils of Indian secularism and tolerance these philistines retain characteristic traits of tribal culture of the middle age. How much truth and fact their propaganda contains is for anybody to see and verify by himself. You can scarcely imagine a more shameless, blunt and deliberately concocted white lie than this. No doubt, the highly qualified and educated youth among the KPs deprived of opportunities and jobs in the State did reluctantly migrate to destinations outside the State in the search of pastures. But why would the entire minority community migrate? Were they like lemmings that periodically rush to the sea and drown themselves? The heard instinct along the KPs is not so pronounced and dominant as it is among the Kashmiri Muslims. Who will be so idiotic as to call Migrant camps at Nagrota, Muthi, Purkoo. Mishriwalla and other localities at Udhampur, Kathua, Delhi and elsewhere green pastures? Would that they too were driven to greener than these green pastures!
We have no count how many KPs young and old men and women, gave up their ghosts in the fefugee camps because of sun strokes, snake bites, cardiac breakdown and other unnatural causes of death unknown in the Valley. What a plight the KPs braved through, my countrymen, in unfriendly, hostile climate! It left one dazed, stupefied and infuriated to see the "Kings" of yesterday turned into "Paupers" of today looking up for succour, accepting charity that they dispensed so freely in their own homes. Thousands of KPs are even today in the ninth year of the exodus languishing and decaying in the pigeon holes , stables and cells that the built up quarters are, as they are counting their days in the torn tattered tents that fall with stormy winds and are swept away by heavy rains and rise again with fair weather.
In the thirties of this century when Jawahar Lal Nehru visited the slums and hovels of industrial workers in Bombay and Calcutta, he was infuriated to see the sub human condi tions and environs of squalor in which the workers lived. Would that he had lived to see the people of the land of his forefathers, the land that he loved most, that he integrated with the body of India and called it its head and crown, living a life worse than that of the creatures of the forests and fields. Three four generations of hundred percent literate enlightened decent KPs cramped and crumpled into one room or tent! The pangs of the loss of home and homeland by the KPs is aptly mirrored by W.H. Auden's poem. Say this city has ten million souls on the theme of the misery and lament of the German Jews rendered refugees by the persecution and torments of Hitler in the name of ethnic cleansing. Nehru's ancestors too had been victims of Islamic fascism in their own day. The KP refugees live worse than sub human life, by modern standards.
Consider the fall out of the forced migration of the KPs from their paradise. Families have become disjointed and fallen apart. Father has parted from his sons, brother from brother. For a pretty good time people did not know where their kith and kin had taken refuge, in what city or town or village. They lost all track and there is a shocking communication gap particularly on occasions of sadness and sorrow in a family. Wedded partners have got dispersed with distances of a thousand kilometers separating the two. They have a reunion once in a blue moon. This has adversely affected their children.
The growth rate of widows and widowers has amazingly increased. Those in the evening of life rendered lonely feel terribly deprived and alienated not having their children around them to depend on in their distress.
The petty agriculturist lost his land, the orchardist his orchard and the shopkeeper his source of sustenance. The economy of these classes of KPs lies shattered to pieces and their laments during these six years of exile have fallen on deaf ears, the dole of Rs. 1000 to Rs. 1500 can in no case mitigate their stress and strain. How they keep their body and soul together is a miracle. But for the continuation of payment of salary to the refugee KP State employees, their economic problems would have compounded their miseries to an unimaginable extent and what the condition would have been like staggers the imagination.
The one notable segment of KP refugees is that of the school and college going youth, the latter particularly. Their normal process and plans of education have been totally unhinged and ruptured. Suddenly they found that neither the present nor the future held any hope or promise for them. Their admission to local centers of learning was and is still vehemently opposed. Against their will they are knotted to the Kashmir University which bothers two hoots about their educational career and future prospects. Examinations are time and again postponed or delayed and there is absolutely no schedule of any sort to follow. What though it takes six years for a student to qualify as a graduate? Most of the graduates have overage and thus been deprived of employment I opportunities in Central Services, they belong neither to Kashmir nor to Jammu. They have no cake either to eat or to have it. Bypassing the appointed rules and regulations for recruitment the Central Government holds no examination for the Kashmiri Muslims in their vain efforts to appease them. Central teams visit the Valley and order appointments on the spot. No such extraordinary concession is extended to candidates from the Jammu region or the refugee KP aspirants to various posts. There is no HRD Program for the educated unemployed KP youth whose potential gets dissipated in unproductive activities. There will be no denial of the fact that 23000 Kashmiri Muslim young men have been appointed by the Central Government in various Departments, particularly the Railways, B.S.F and C.R.P.F., Banks
without any test or criteria simply to appease them. There was a duel between the Railway Minister Jaffer Sherief and the BJP M.Ps on the floor of the house during question hours in the Indian parliament in Monsoon Session 1995.
The civic amenities at the refugee camps are conspicuously non-existent. The inhabitants of these camps and their spokesmen and leaders frequently complain through the press of the lack of hygienic conditions. It is a cry in the wilderness. Nobody is interested in heeding to them. It does not pay to do so, for the helpless KPs have no mischief value. They are a spent force left to their lot to rot in sun and shower.
Yes, they are in for humiliation after humiliation. For any thing under the sun, be it petty or of some consequence, he is required to furnish affidavits duly endorsed by authorities appointed by law or State. Proofs of this kind or that to authenticate his claims. The Photostat business is in boom. Probably no ration card of any citizen in any State of India is bound to have a joint photograph of the cardholder, and his spouse pasted on the front page or anywhere inside. As if declared offenders and criminals, with their records and files duly maintained at zonal offices and then at the Relief Commissioners office. No new ration cards have been issued to them since 1991 as is usually done in the case of people in Kashmir and Jammu divisions on yearly basis. At every level and at every step they are made victims of exploitation, corruption, discrimination, neglect and injustice. The migrant employees are not paid HRA and CCA while as Muslim employees in Kashmir Division get these at double rate for contributing nothing by way of service. Is not anti-social and anti-national activity at a premium?
The inmates at refugee camps have virtually become collection of living curios, as if in museums. From time to time delegations, national and international, land there to have a look at the species of the lost tribe of KPs. No visit to Kashmir is complete unless you have visited the human zoos. Activists of human rights outfits, known and unknown ambassadors and envoys, double faced politicians Central Ministers flock to the sanctuaries where the KPs enjoy the status of being protected species like the Hangul (the Kashmiri stag). The camp dwellers assemble time and again with the hope and faith that their fate is going to be decided. They narrate the horrendous and hair raising circumstances and episodes related to the rise of ISI backed Islamic fanaticism and religious persecution at the hands of the terrorists in the valley and their present sufferings as refugees in their own great country, Bharat. Tragic experiences are recalled and relived. Appeals to the international community and the world conscience are rehearsed. The guest visitors listen visibly moved; they give assurances of every possible moral support and raise their voice in various fora to highlight the sufferings of the refugees. So dignitaries come and go: but nothing moves, nothing follows so as to alleviate their suffering and terrible plight. Visits to the camps have degenerated into a farcical ritual. End to their exile continues to be an illusion and still they hope against hope to return to their hearths and homes.
Meanwhile, the Islamic fundamentalists have consolidated the gain accuring from pushing and hunting out the KPs. They have seen to it that no chance and scope is left for the return of the native KPs. They have left no stone unturned for making a frontal and all out assault to destroy all symbols, tokens and traces of their culture, their practices, traditions and heritage. Uprooting the KPs is not enough, their existence in the valley in the past and in the present must be wiped out root and branch so as to make it appear that KPs never belonged to the valley. They would rewrite the history of Kashmir in the Islamic way.
With an eye on this the fundamentalists went on a free for all spree of loot, plunder, spoil and arson. Village after village comprising of KP settlements have been razed to ashes; KP localities in towns and cities have been torched and gutted either completely or partially in such a manner that the vagaries of weather in a couple of winters will complete the unfinished agenda of the Muslim bigots who aim at ground and leaving no evidence of their having lived there. The looted booty ornamented their houses and halls and what was unwanted was disposed off in Sunday markets. Following the Islamic traditions private libraries of the KPs containing priceless manuscripts and rare books on philosophy, world religions, Hindu scriptures, literature, art, law, humanities etc. were plundered, torn to bits, burnt or sold to street hawkers what they were worth as radii or junk, good for a retailer to sell groceries in. Islam enjoins upon its followers to venture going to far away China in pursuit of knowledge and here in Kashmir you get a fine specimen of reverence for knowledge. The ineradicable, the incurable, intolerance towards followers of the other faiths. Knowledge too is Muslim and non-Muslim. What a perversion and decadence of mind and spirit. It does not matter in the least that pages of the religious books and Holy scripture of the KPs litter the lanes and bylanes. float in the gutter and are trampled upon because they sing hymns of God who is not Muslim. What hullabaloo would have followed if a page from any other religious book had been shown scanty respect in this manner? The progeny of those who burnt the legendary library at Alexandria a rich and peerless repository of knowledge and learning in its day, find a mean and petty pleasure to destroy Kafirs treasures of learning.
The KPs of the post Muslim period in Kashmir had read of Khokas and Bombas, savage and ferocious Muslim tribes, used by the callous and ruthless Muslim rulers to plunder and kill the KPs. Loot, plunder, arson, rape and ruthless murder have been an essential ingredient of the Muslim psyche and ethos and they can't see life and world but through these ignoble and diabolical devices. Suffering these at frequent intervals has been the badge of the KPs. And since 1989 we have been eye witness to the re-emergence of this racial traits of savagery, crudeness, tiger like ferocity of the Kashmiri Muslim re-enacted towards the KPs contributing in the main to the unavoidable exodus of not fewer than 3,00,000 members of the Hindu minority.
The customary loose long robe worn by the Kashmiris to protect themselves from severe cold is known as pheran. It has found universal usage these days and embroidered pheran is a craze with big people. The pathan ruler of Kashmir ordered KPs to have "laad" a wide fold near the lower border of the pheran on its outside so that they could become easily distinguishable from the Muslims. Normally this garment has only one pocket on the right side below the length of a hand. The pathan rulers ordered the KPs to wear pherans with two pockets on either side so that the bastard boor could use the two pockets as spurs and ride a KP holding him by long bushy bodhi or tuft of hair at the rear top of his head. Is there a worse form of humiliation and indignity than this? The fear of the Pathan that it engendered in the psyche of the KPS persisted till the present exodus. While going round the Hari Parbat as part of his religious duty the KP devotee would at every short interval revolve around himself. In verity it was a vestige of the repressive pathan rule; the KP simply turned around to watch that no pathan was to be seen within his sight that the savage would command him to stop so that he should make the KP play the horse for him. With such a proud track record of barbarity the Kashmiri Muslim feels anguished with the rule of Hindu India that scrubbed away layers of alien growth on his head and made him affluent and taught him to live with comfort.
But racial traits die hard or seldom.
Commenting upon the Kashmir situation, Dr. Karan Singh former Sadri-Riyasat observes in January 1995 issue of VOM, "Many in the capital tend to look upon J&K merely as an interesting problem; Tens of thousands are forced to leave their home to live in refugee camps. Crores of rupees worth residential and other property are destroyed. Thousands of widows and orphans are left to face a bleak future". It is now common place and anybody's impression that New Delhi is least bothered about the safety, self-respect and property of the Pandits. In its estimation, a handful of outlaws have turned the valley into a veritable inferno. Fear has gripped every heart and home and there is sense of insecurity prevailing all around. Unless the State of India exerts its power and authority and addresses the situation arising out of terrorism with an iron hand, as Late Beant Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab did in his state, no solution is foreseable.
The Central Government continues befooling the Indian public. Committees followed by Central Ministers air-dash to the valley to take the stock of the position on spot and report to the Prime Minister about the ground realities. Heaven knows whether any reports are submitted or it is just an excuse to seek relief from the blistering heat of New Delhi's sun and enjoy eating cherries under the Chinar tree. But where is Kashmir policy? Every opposition party has been repeatedly urging ruling congress party to spell out its Kashmir policy. BJP wants New Delhi to come out with a white paper on how it means to tackle the problems of terror, and subversion there. There is no policy. Nothing can move the hard-boiled rulers to utter a word. Do what you will it will stick to its policy of no policy. Why should it have any? When it comes to distributing and sharing loaves and fisPes and enjoying unearthly prerogatives and luxuries in state mansions, the Kashmir imbroglio is ticklish and too frivolous to deserve attention on emergency basis or war footing. When the engineers of the destiny of the nation are in race for position of power and pelf who has the time and inclination to pay heed to Kashmir? Minister after Minister changes portfolios of Kashmir affairs as if it were a laboratory for conducting experiments in which much was lost and little gained. It was hoped that with the Prime Minister having assumed the charge of Kashmir affairs things would crystallize and concrete and tangible steps would be taken in the direction of speedy restoration of normalcy in the troubled valley. Those hopes have proved dupes. Leniency on the part of Central and State administration has encouraged the anti-nationals to commit more crimes and create more mayhem, otherwise a government building which is the residential accommodation of S.M. Hussain (K.A.S.) presently Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag district would have not turned into a laboratory for preparing improvised explosive devices (IDS). Unfortunate and sacrilegious crimes like the burning down of the holy shrine of Nund Rishi at Charar would not have occurred if exemplary and deterrent punishment had been awarded to the terrorists responsible for the Hazratbal seige. Too long a rope has been given to the subversionists. The consequence of the policy of appeasement has cost the ruling party little but the KPs and the nation have paid dearly for it.
As time goes by the Central Government plays its cool waiting and watching for nature to have its own course. The Muslim fundamentalists in the valley are upto their hilt in Islamising the basic secular culture of Kashmir and changing the centuries old face of Kashmir. The spirit of Kashmiriat distorted and marred by dying it in the exclusive Islamic caul drop and thus put a seal on the process that began with the Muslim rule in Kashmir. What else is the purport and motive behind destroying KP shrines temples, all centers associated with their faith immovable structural properties and grabbing their land and orchards by tampering with revenue and land records? The state administration has till date taken no step to protect their land, houses and other property despite persistent demand for it by the KP community in exile. Its policy of expediency has overriding effect on the principle of justice and fair play. That explains settling the claims for damage to Muslim properties in the valley on priority basis by deputing special teams to settle the claims on spot while the claims of the KP fire sufferers, theft and loot are consigned to cold storage and neglected. Discrimination against the exiled KPs has not diminished, rather it has been augmented and its compass extended to encompass every area of their miserable life, notably education, recruitment into state services, grant of loans, payment of various allowances etc.
Mr. Cohen, a US Senator affirms that the gist of Pakistan's foreign policy towards India is summed up in one word-Kashmir. Kashmir has become a haunting obsession with Ms. Benazir Bhutto. It is a patently evident fact that Pakistan has unleashed an undeclared, a low cost proxy war in Kashmir. The Pakistan sponsored armed militancy and terrorism has taken a heavy toll of Indian security and armed forces, perhaps more than suffered by I.P.K.F. in Sri Lanka, India has been cautiously defensive and has taken care not to mount any offensive operation. New Delhi is blowing hot a cold in the same breath. It holds out and ever extended hand with an olive branch and simultaneously is not weary of threating Pakistan of dire consequences if it did not forthwith stop inciting, aiding, abetting and sustaining terrorism in Kashmir. We have been hearing them for the last nine years ceaselessly. These are now taken not even at the face value, for Pakistan has still to exhibit howsoever slight change in its aggressive stance.
Confirming the ethnic cleansing of KPs by the Muslim fundamentalists in Kashmir Mr. Wimmer, a member of the German Parliament and Vice President OSCE asserted that they are against ethnic and religious cleansing and the way the KPs were forced to migrate from Kashmir, the land of their ancestors. New Delhi is yet to adopt tough attitude towards the terrorists and put down its foot to crush militancy with determination and courage. Even when it has a lot of irrefutable and unquestionable evidence and proofs of Pakistani's complicity and direct and open involvement in the present disturbances in the valley, New Delhi has done nothing appreciable to counter Pakistani propaganda and expose Pakistan and its patronized militant outfits before the world community. How long will she wait? Is there no limit to the patience? Must the KPs then submit to their genocide first at the hands of Muslim fundamentalists and now the pro-Muslim ruling class?
What is worst, lamentable and deplorable is the neglect of the ruling party of India to take direct measures, which will help the KPs to return to their homeland. Still more condemnable, unfair grossly undemocratic and authoritarian is the Center's posture not to include them in any deliberations to solve the Kashmir imbroglio. This has bred deep anguish, resentment and frustration in the community that is being relegated to the background though they are the worst sufferers and victims of militancy and terrorism in Kashmir.
Only recently in the second week of September, 1995, IndoAmerican Kashmir Forum under its National President Mr. Kannya Lai Koul sought a meeting with United Nations Secretary General Mr. Boutros Ghaili to urge him to declare the displaced KPs from the valley as internally displaced persons entitled to international support for the political and civil rights and humanitarian relief as described in the relevant resolution of the UN Human Rights Commission. The circumstances that compelled the KPs to flee their homes in the valley in 1989-90 fully satisfy the conditions and terms of given in the report of the representatives of the UN Secretary General on IDPs submitted by him to HRC at its 51st session in Geneva in February-March, 1995.
Of late the ruling party has been trumpeting that it is going to hold elections in the troubled state to form a popular government in a bid to restore normalcy in the state. It has in fact been in the air for over two years; Central Ministers one after the other had jaunts to the valley off and on to assess the ground situation. The Chief Election Commissioner himself too had to see for himself if the atmosphere was conducive to holding elections. The major opposition parties have disfavoured the initiation of political process until militancy and terrorism has been completely crushed out thoroughly so that the fear of the gun stands removed from the minds of the electorate for a free and fearless franchise.
That the fear of the gun is entrenched in every mind and that there is resultant sense of insecurity pervading all around is vindicated by the civil curfew and total bandh with which the Election Commissioner of India Dr. M.S. Gill was greeted in the valley on his three day visit to the state to assess the situation for taking the decision on holding elections in the state. The outlaws however, small their number be have to rued the Valley and Doda district into a veritable hell. In spite of tall, but in reality hollow claims of the State Administration to the contrary they count the shots and their writ prevails.
The Union Home Secretary Sh. K. Padmanabaiah has described the prevailing situation in the state congenial for holding the polls since many people in the militancy infested Valley are anxious for restoration of peace and democratic order. The Prime Minister, Sh. RV. Narsimha Rao and the Minister of Home affairs Sh. S.B. Chavan enthused by Governor Gen. K.V. Krishna Rao's pleas of conducting elections of the state in mid November 1995 have showered their blessing on him. Yet the Election Commissioner, after his interaction with the senior Government functionaries, law and order authorities and leaders of various political parties acted in no haste and did not jump to the conclusions. In a mature judicious and sagacious manner he stated that the decision would be taken after taking into consideration all the prerequisites and various aspects of the existing situation. It hardly appears to be an optimistic statement. In any exercise having bearing on the political solution of the Kashmir tangle and lakhs of uprooted and displaced Kashmiri Pandits stand not only marginalized but also absolutely excluded. No sincere efforts have been made by the governments at the Centre and the state to design any scheme or create conditions for their safe return with honour to their homes. The demand for creating constituencies in exile for them is a moot point. Thousands of eligible young voters are yet to be included in the voter lists. How the displaced Kashmiri Pandits will exercise their franchise and for whom is stilt shrouded in mysterious uncertainty or puzzles all those who take interest in watching the Kashmir affairs.
Kashmir continues to figure on deliberations on all sorts of agenda in international forum. Wrong signals continue to pour into the militant and secessionist outfits in the valley motivating them covertly and overly to subvert the peaceful election process in the state. Even as there has been surrender of arms and ammunitions by growing number of militants in the valley, infiltration of fresh batches of trained Kashmiri Muslim militants and foreign mercenaries has not stopped or dwindled to a trickle. The arms and ammunitions recovered so far forms only the tip of iceberg. The entire Kashmir and upper reaches of Doda are so flooded with sophisticated arms and explosives that it will be many years before these are unearthed and recovered by the security forces, with the government adopting
a soft attitude of conciliation and appeasement and repeated advice and appeal to militants to contest the elections- Kidnappings and the abductions are still a current menace. The houses of the displaced Kashmiri Hindus continue to be torched and razed to ashes. Whatever the Central and or state governments may do with a view to end the feeling of alienation of the Kashmiri Muslims to win their hearts and confidence in Indian democracy and secularism and to coax them to fall in line with the national main stream by offers of well meaning packages, the glaring and irrefutable fact remains that acts of terrorism in the state particularly in Kashmir and Doda are not a thing of the past. The serpent of terrorism may have been scotched but it has not been killed; it raises its venomous head every now and then. Attack on security forces and bloody encounters and cross firing between the forces and the provocative militants are reported day in and day out form every corner of the valley. Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley is once again frontpage news.
Four KP families forty in all counted were forced to flee from their houses at Wanpoh after abduction and murder of one of their family members, Piyare Lal Raina on the night of September, 1995. The deceased was an ex-service man. His son Vinod Kumar Raina claimed that the killing had been carried out to coerce the remaining Kashmiri Pandits to flee the valley. But the government claims that the situation is fast returning to normalcy in the valley. The prominent militant outfits are unanimous on the stand that the war will continue, that they are least bothered as to who gets killed in this war; that by carrying out the attacks they aim to highlight their agenda of national freedom and nobody will be allowed to reach an agreement on this issue. "So the gun will continue to play its role not to allow the government to hold the elections and keep the cauldron of Kashmir as a disputed territory ever boiling and adding new ingredients of subversion".
The net result is confusion, more confusion, infinite confusion, confusion compounded and compounded, confusion created and sustained purposely by both the warring sides, the militants-cum-terrorists and the government at the center and the state levels. The Kashmiri Muslims by and large make the best out of the situation. The militants pump bullets into Indian polity and the Indian Government pumps hundreds of millions of rupees to the Kashmiri Muslims supporting the militants who envisage one highway to Azadi, by squeezing Indian economy as a leech does with impure blood. Muddled thinking behind New Delhi's Kashmir Policy will never help it. It is a Sheer Don Quixotic misadventure. Who else knows the ethos of the Kashmiri Muslims better than then Kashmiri Pandits? They say, 'beggars can't be choosers'. The Kashmir Muslims have been both. Indian brand of secularism has an in built mechanism to lend itself be used for anti-national fundamentalist campaigns.
The non-communal stance of the Election Commissioner, Dr. M.S. Gill if it is any indication, obviously implies that he has not failed to sense the mood of the Kashmiri Muslims under the thumb of the militants and terrorists that there are no takers for the so called elections on the anvil. The Central Government can't hoodwink them and the situation in mit il ancy torn Kashmir remains as grim and gloomy as it has been for the last six years and no solution is foreseable.
Now where do the displaced Kashmir Pandits stand? It is equally obvious that the Central Government is creating an impression that the KPs are a non-entity and have no locus stand and has as such sidelined them in its efforts to cut the Gordian knot and restore normalcy or at least semblance of it in the state. As long as the KPs, an essential and inalienable component of Kashmiri Society, are in exile they have little point of interest in the elections and holding the elections without their participation is meaningless and futile. That they all are unavoidable party to any future settlement of the Kashmir problem on the political level has been validly recognized at international forums, albeit Indian government has done precious little to project their plight as the worst hit victims of Pak sponsored militancy and terrorism in the state. It is the lobbying of the KPs themselves that has lend strength to India's stand on the issue. It is desirable that the Indian government woke up and became amenable to reason and saw the realities in their true perspective and not be complacent in neglecting the significant state of the KPs in any political settlement. In democratic scheme of things minorities have as much and as important a voice in amicable settlement of issues of national importance as the majority. No arrangement showing disregard for the aspirations and ethnic consideration of the KPs will be acceptable to them. The powers that be must not commit the folly of taking them for granted and take them for a ride.
While the Islamization program in the Kashmir Valley is being carried on unabated the KPs have a history of over 500 years of Muslim rule in Kashmir to draw lessons from; History has repeated itself too many times for them. To obliterate the deep scars it has left on their life, work and vision. The dreaded Khokhas and Bombas of the yore have reemerged with doubly redoubled demoniac vengeance and wrath to exterminate the minority community of the KPs. They seem to be kinder and less cruel as contrasted with their present day descendents with all the sobering and civilizing and humanizing influences of education and material prosperity and numerous advantages of science. That many civilizations in the history of Europe were destroyed by onslaughts of barbaric hordes of tribals has been proved true in Kashmir in our own day. Slogans like " La Sharqiya' lagharbia, Islamia Islamis" still ring in our ears and serve as index of the ethos of the Kashmiri Muslims in the living present and the future to be. It is as plain as it is day that this exclusive cry is unques tionably inimical to making any compromise with the Eastern or the Western cultures that today rest on tolerance, compassion, humanism, liberalism respect for basic human rights as recognized in the charter of human rights, secularism and democratic temper. It entertains no scope for modification and adjustment and believes in superimposing a particular outdated fanatical view of religion and life on others whether they subscribe to it or not. There is not to reason why.
Guided by his fundamentalist and fanatical approach to life as the majority community in Kashmir is, the minority community of the KPs must move in unison very cautiously and be guided by lessons learnt from its history down the centuries since the emergence of Muslim rule. The existence of Saprus, Katjus, Haksars, Kitchloo, Zutshis, Kauls etc., in Allahabad, Lucknow, Delhi and other places remind us of the circumstances that led to their exodus from time to time from the valley in the hoary past. Kashmir is cold, dead and buried; so is Gandhi Ji's tiny ray of communal harmony. According to hadith Prophet Mohemmed once said, "A true believer is one with who others feel secure, one who returns love for hatred". Another hadith says " by God, he is not a believer, by God, he is not a believer with whom his neighbours are not secure". The KPs have tasted to the lies this spirit of neighborliness of the Muslims in Kashmir and they will remember it forever. They must also not forget that as Kipling found west and east irreconcilable, the Muslim culture in Kashmir is in essence diametrically poles apart from the KP ethos and the two shall never meet now that Kashmir's secular character and traditions have ceased to be.
Way back in 1989 wall posters in fairly large letters proclaiming Kashmir as "Islamic Republic of Kashmir" were a common sight in Srinagar. Since then a lot of pioneering work has been done by every Kashmiri Muslim, irrespective of his rank and standing, to make Kashmir the land of 'Militant Islam'. The so called struggle for freedom began rallying round the pivot of total Islamization of Kashmir and despite India's efforts to re-impose secular outlook. Kashmiri Muslims have been non-cooperative, Islam continues to be cultural unifying and cementing force in their life and for them religion and politics are inseparable and undistinguishable. The Jaun diced local bureaucracy no less than the administrative echelon overtly and covertly support and direct the militants. There are instances galore to establish the involvement of senior as well as junior government functionaries in the avowed goal of Islamization of Kashmir. They have taken a vow not to let the grip of Islam get relaxed and sabotage every move of the state government to curb militancy and restore normalcy and democracy.
It is for this reason that Kashmiri Muslims, including the so called leaders of any political denomination have kept absolutely mum and dared not utter a word against the Islamization campaign in Kashmir. No intellectuals among them have raised even any weak voice of protest to religious intolerance. In fact the Kashmiri Muslims are loath to the return at the entire displaced refugee Kashmiri Pandits who looked upon as the enemies of their movement. They are no longer needed there and are clearly told to forget that they ever belonged to the Valley. The foundation stone of the Muslim State of Kashmir was laid right at the time of India's partition and now the free Islamic republic of Kashmir is on the anvil.
It is in the 6th year of our exile that one secessionist leader and man behind the operation Balakote militant outfit Azam Inqualabi, speaking at a seminar organized by the South Asian Forum for People's Initiative, on the theme "Kashmir at present and future propsects" held in New Delhi on 1511-1995 said that he had been pained by the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley. Now realizing the mistake committed and the value of KPs he said both Muslims and minority community needed to sit together to resolve the issue and arrive at a mutual understanding. He was how ever, critical of the community for not coming forward with the people of Kashmir (Muslims) in their struggle. " If even ten people had come forward I would shed my blood for them", he said (K.T. dated 16-12-95). "Fitna garas bahana bisyar" a Kashmiri saying. Ripvan winkle has woken up from a deep slumber when most of the Kashmiri Pandits blood has been spelt. Inqulabi probably does not remember that the so-called Kashmiris leading human rights activist late H.N. Wanchoo was a Kashmiri Pandit, a well-known Trade Unionist. He had filed quite a number of petitions in J&K High court against the Government and is reported to have acted as an intermediary between the Government and certain militant groups for the release of militants. He too was silenced forever on 5th Dec. 1992 by the militants of Jamiatul-Mujahideen. I ask Inqulabi, was not late Wanchoo a KP who shared and abetted terrorism? Was not Lt. Satish Tikoo S/o. Sh. RN. Tikoo of Karfali Mohalla associated with relief committee's set up by Muslims? Why was he gunned down on 2nd February 1990 by a notorious Bitta Karate? This, Iwrite simply to keep Inqulabi's record straight. Their movement was purely a Muslim fundamentalistic Jehad against secular India. The question of KPs particpation did not arise under the circumstances, even though some took part in it they were silenced because no outfit wanted the association of any Hindu with the movement (Salman Khursheed ).
Kashmir Pandits now in exile have to pay heed to ground realities and watch with keen interest the changing political scenario together with its fall out and frame their policy and response in a cool collective and sagacious manner, and act firmly to achieve their goal which has already been spelled out.
History is a great teacher and reminder of time tested messages. It is time that the KPs display their characteristic intelligence and shrewdness and sagacity by heeding to the call of their history. They have committed many lapses in the past for which history has penalized them in the shape of their having become docile sufferers of persecution cruelty and intolerance and repeated exoduses in every period of Muslim rule in their homeland and let them not make a move in huff that could prove an act of Harakiri for which their awakened and liberated young generation and posterity shall never pardon them. One foot on sea and the other on shore is not going to be helpful policy at any stage of time henceforth.
Let them show in the words of Tennyson:
"One equal temper of heroic hearts
Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
to strive to seek, to find and not to yield."
Let them bear in mind the wise old Persian saying "Azmoodra Azmood Khatas". This may be transliterated into an English proverb "Once bitten twice shy", an unpleasant experience induces caution.