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A Hindu in Kashmir!

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Kr Swarn Kishore
Kr Swarn Kishore
The author is a Delhi based advocate working in Supreme Court of India and basically hails from district Ramban of Jammu & Kashmir. He writes mainly on Kashmir & rightist perspectives.

If someone comes up with a piece of Kashmiri folk before you, the chances of it having its origin in the vatsun poetry of Lalleshwari popularly known as Lal Ded is more than 90 percent. If you are searching a book to pip through the history of Kashmir; the book which is a sort of authority over history of Kashmir is Rajatarangini and was authored by Kalhana. Since the ancient times, Hindus are sculptor of Kashmiri culture and its development as well. Therefore imagining future Kashmir in absentia of Kashmiri Hindus would be nothing but a deception with the culture and idea of Kashmir or we can say Kashmiriyat.

But suddenly in the first month of 1990, something weird started appearing on the walls in Kashmir. Posters were pasted on the walls of houses of Kashmiri Hindus, under the seal and stamp of some terrorist organisations which included Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front etc. In those posters the Kashmiri Hindus were instructed or we can say threatened to leave the Kashmir valley within 24 hours or to get ready to die. Some masked Kashmiris ran amok in the street waiving Kalashnikovs and raising anti –India slogans and taped slogans which were played from the loudspeakers of mosques whole night were ; “Kashmir mein rehna hai, Allah-o-Akbar kehna hai (if you want to stay in Kashmir, you have to say Allah-o-Akbar”, “Yahaan kya chalega, Nizaam-e-mustafa (What do we want here? Rule of Shariah)”, and the pathetic of them all (Asi gachchi Pakistan, Batao roas te batanev saan (We want Pakistan along with Hindu women but without their men). 

When some of the Hindus therein exhibited some sort of reluctance to leave their homeland, the Kashmiri terrorists even started massacring the Hindus; and not only killing them but raping the women as well. And in this campaign even the children and the older ones were not having the impunity. Believe it or not but house of a high court judge, Justice Neelkanth Ganjoo was bombed and later he was too assassinated in broad day light. An advocate and a national executive member of BJP, Pandit Tika Lal Taploo was murdered in front of several eye witnesses, but no one was arrested or even the matter found any sincere investigation. From hate slogans from the loud speakers of mosques to the whispering conversations in the streets, from passiveness the government in New Delhi to the inaction of the government in the state everything conspired to oust Kashmiri Hindus from their homeland.

Although what happened in 1990 is not hidden but for sake of brief recapitulation of facts, let me put it straight; killing of around 300 and exodus of more than half a million Kashmiri Hindus took place in the  campaign of ethnic wiping of Kashmiri Hindus from the soil of Kashmir. It was one of the largest exoduses of the century and almost doubles the number when compared to the exodus of Jews from Germany and Austria. For that expulsion of Jews we people still vilify Hitler but till today we fail to fix the responsibility for what happened in Kashmir in 1990.

It was a planned massacre of Kashmiri Hindus just to force them to migrate; thereby making them refugees in their own country. Even UN had recorded it as the biggest migration in so many years. And such a thing had happened for the first time that a community which constituted majority of a country was forced to migrate and to live in refugee camps elsewhere in their own country.

For last three decades, we are witness to continuous armed struggle between Indian forces and Pakistan sponsored Kashmiri terrorists. These years have changed a lot of things but the grim situation in Kashmir. Back then Syed Salah-ud-din being Mohd. Yusuf Shah was a political leader and now a proclaimed global terrorist, back then Yasin Malik was an armed terrorist of JKLF and now he calls himself a Gandhian, but the Indian struggle and distance of Kashmiri Hindus from their homeland keeps on growing day by day.

The Kashmiris still in the valley have grown for themselves some very popular leaders who are mainly bigots than anything, who are doing nothing but betraying the Kashmiri youth by appealing them to keep the struggle on while they are resting in their plush bungalows. Prominent among them are as; Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who had received the chairmanship of All Party Hurriyat Conference as a gesture of compassionate appointment after death of his father namely Mirwaiz Molvi Farooq. Otherwise how come a 17 year old kid be nominated a leader to run a movement which had international repercussions and where stakes of world powers are involved? Then there is Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who switched over from mainstream politics to separatism because of lack of funds there, and now he mainly transacts in Hawala only. And then there is Yasin Malik, once a terrorist and now a separatist leader having a Pakistani wife who is popularly known to own half of the Lal Chowk market, while most it is grabbed one. But one thing which can’t be denied is their populism in patches and its PR management. Just a minor gathering is all over the national media in few minutes and is a national issue in no time. Prime time in almost all the major news channels is pre-occupied with the rhetoric both in support and against the Kashmiri terrorists. Otherwise how come the stupid adventures and narcissist activities of teenager terrorist in the forests of south Kashmir reach the news studios in Noida; how come a guy playing cricket with Kalashnikov makes it to the TV screens; it is all PR management. Prior to this, an example of such PR management was seen in case of Veerappan only. I suppose there is something in the soil of Kashmir, otherwise when half of Bihar was submerged for almost a fortnight and no one bothered but two days flood in Kashmir extracted support for Bollywood and international forums.

Although the union government has been trying a lot to rehabilitate the Kashmiri Hindus from the time of Manmohan Singh ji led UPA till the present government, but nothing much seems to be accomplished till today. When the newly formed Narendra Modi led NDA government pitched in for construction of separate colonies for Kashmiri Hindus, it was widely condemned by all the separatist leaders and even by the Kashmir based political parties i.e. National Conference & Peoples Democratic Party. Nonetheless a change of heart took place overnight and the Hurriyat leaders started singing a song of welcoming Kashmiri Hindus; not in separate colonies but among them. Suddenly the whole separatist movement took a new turn and fresh secular flavour found place in their speeches. They started making space for Hindus in their idea of Kashmir and the idea of merging with Pakistan was dropped to form their utopian independent and secular Kashmir.

The new idea was an independent Kashmir which will be guaranteeing space for every Kashmiri irrespective of their religion. Let us assume this promise of Kashmiri separatist leaders is not like the promise of Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s Karachi speech, but how can we ignore when Mr Geelani goes on record and in speech comes up with a slogan such as “Hum Pakistani hain, Pakistan hamara hai; Pakistan se rishta kya, La ilaha illallah”. And when he appeals for support for Kashmir he yearns for support of people who are “Kashmiriyat pasand, Azaadi pasand & Islam pasand”. When the people there in Kashmir were forced to set their watches as per Pakistan standard time, how such words and acts can be interpreted? When a proclaimed terrorist having a huge fan following in Kashmir says that this whole movement is about Islamic Jihad and not about independence, whom are we supposed to believe?

In last three decades, barring few protected temples, each and every temple of Hindus has been desecrated. The few which still exist is only because Indian army personnel stand tall at the doors of those temples. The Hindus who visit Kashmir for pilgrimage are attacked and murdered. When Anantnag becomes Islamabad, Hari Parbat becomes Koh-e-Maran, Rangat Mohalla of Baramulla becomes Syed Karim Saheb and Lachhmanpura of Batmaloo becomes Sidiqabad, what is to be inferred from all this?

The problem is not only fixing of responsibility of those who murdered the Kashmiri Hindus but the absence of collective guilt of Kashmiri Muslims as well; who either became a party to the bloody exodus or stood silent to the oppression of their Hindu neighbours. When we take example of migration of Rohingya Muslim from Burma, we blame Burmese Buddhists, when we take example of migration of Syrian people, we blame ISIS, when Jews migrated from Germany, Hitler was condemned for that but in case of migration of Kashmiri Hindu, we have yet failed to zero in on the name and particulars of the guilty ones. I will not desist from comparing the massacre of Hindus in Kashmir with the Nazi pogrom of Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass) of 9-10 November 1938 in Nazi Germany, wherein a lot of Jews were killed and more than 30,000 Jews were arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps. But the real question is; will the people who were guilty of murdering and raping Kashmiri Hindu women be ever punished? Will the Kashmiri Hindus be ever getting into a position to go back to their homeland? Will Kashmiri Hindus ever get justice? And will peace ever find Kashmir without rehabilitation of Kashmiri Hindus? I remember a sentence from a letter written by Martin Luther King Jr. from Birmingham prison in which he says “True peace is not merely absence of tension but presence of justice”. Therefore I ask; will justice be served to exiled community of Kashmiri Hindus? Will we ever be able to identify the murderers and rapists of Kashmiri Hindus or maybe this is just another case of “No one killed Jessica”; here I wish to quote a Urdu couplet of one of the greatest Urdu poet of our times, Dr. Rahat Indori which is;

Mere Hujre main nahin, aur kahin rakh do,
Aasman laaye ho? Le aao, zameen pe rakh do;
Ab kahaan dhoondne jaogey hamarey qaatil,
Aap to qatl ka ilzaam hmein pe rakh do!

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Kr Swarn Kishore
Kr Swarn Kishore
The author is a Delhi based advocate working in Supreme Court of India and basically hails from district Ramban of Jammu & Kashmir. He writes mainly on Kashmir & rightist perspectives.
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