News & Views
BJP government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to change demographic make-up in Kashmir, and it is being done in the name of resettlement of the Kashmiri Pandits who had left the Valley during uprising in 1989. In April 2015, former chief minister of Indian-held Jammu and Kashsmir Mufti Sayeed during his meeting with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had assured the latter that his government would acquire and provide land at the earliest for composite townships in the Valley. After demonstrations by Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front and other Kashmiri leaders, Mufti Sayeed backtracked and said there were no such plans, but steps will be taken for return of the minority community to the Valley. However, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that BJP government would not go back on its agreed plans of settlements of Kashmiri Pandits.
Earlier, Rajnath Singh had written a letter to the previous Omar Abdullah government, which was followed by another communication to state Governor N.N. Vohra asking for identification of land for such migrants. At that time, they said there were about 62,000 registered Kashmiri migrant families in the country that had moved from the Valley to Jammu, Delhi and other parts of the country after the state was rocked by militancy in 1989. During the budget for 2015-16, Rs. 580 crore had been earmarked by the Centre for rehabilitation of migrants. BJP’s State general secretary Ashok Kaul had also stated that the party would implement its plan of a separate homeland for the Kashmiri Pandits irrespective of Mr. Sayeed’s statement. In a surprise development, a group of Kashmiri Pandits living in the Valley joined JKLF-sponsored protest against the proposed setting up of township for the migrant minority community.
Educationists Pandit Vishin Jee, Pandit Moti Lal Bhat, social worker Kumar Jee Wanchoo, businessman Moti Lal Dhar and several women of the community had joined JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik in the protest at Maisuma after Friday prayers. The Kashmiri Pandits told reporters that there was no need and no use of making separate colonies. They were of the view that only the majority community can ensure security of minorities, and making separate homeland will create more wedges between communities. Last year, former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh Digvijay Singh said it was the then Governor of J&K Jagmohan who forced Kashmiri Pandits to leave the valley on January 19, 1990. “Kashmiri Pandits were unnecessarily forced to leave the Valley by the then governor Jagmohan. Hindus and Muslims lived together for Centuries in Kashmir,” Digvijay Singh wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter.
It was not the first time that a senior congress leader blamed Jagmohan for the migration of Kashmiri Pandits (KPs) from Valley after eruption of militancy in the State. Senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar in his book titled, “Confessions of a Secular Fundamentalist” has written in detail how Jagmohan gave a safe passage to KPs to Jammu before unleashing “terror” in the valley. According to independent observers some 20000 Kashmiri Hindus/Pundits had left the Valley. But Indian government functionaries claimed that 200000 to 300000 were forced to leave the valley. This is being done to members of extremist groups to change the demography of the IOK. In June 2008, Kashmiris had launched an agitation against the state government’s decision to transfer 40 hectares of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB). Article 370 specifically prohibits the sale of land to non-Kashmiris.
Indian government is pursuing the policy of turning its Muslim majority of IOK into a minority by dividing the population on ethnic, religious and communal lines. In Indian Occupied Kashmir, a sustained political movement has been ongoing since 1947 against India. However, Kashmiri youth took up the arms in 1989, and estimates put the number of civilian casualties during the past twenty five years at 100,000. People of Kashmir celebrate Pakistan day, and they observe India’s national republic day on January 26 as black day? On the occasion, black flags fly on rooftops of homes and shops throughout the valley. And the day’s official ceremonies are held in a massively fortified stadium in Srinagar, with an extremely selected audience in attendance. All roads and alleys to the venue are closed down to the public, while helicopters keep flying over it for surveillance until the ceremonies end.
Narendra Modi started implementing the plan to make Hindu settlements on the pattern of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In the first phase, 200 kanals of land were allotted in Baramula district. The plan is to settle 300000 Hindus in the Valley. Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Gilani has said: “India is playing a dangerous game, as conspiracy has been hatched to make another Palestine in Indian Occupied Kashmir.” According to law of the state, non-Kashmiris could not purchase or acquire land in IHK; hence allotment of land to Delhi-based Amarnath Shrine trust was violation of the law. In fact, Congress-led government had earlier allotted a piece of land near the shrine apparently to facilitate Hindu pilgrims that throng the shrine in hundreds of thousand, but Kashmiris were suspicious of the government’s intentions, as it encouraged migration of Hindus to the state with a view to diluting Kashmiri Muslims’ majority in IHK.
There have been atrocities on the people, mass killings and the most flagrant of human rights abuses in Kashmir during the last six decades. After Palestinians, Kashmiris are perhaps the worst sufferers in the modern history, yet international community feels no qualms about the inhuman treatment meted out to them. However, Pakistani nation is united in its support to their Kashmiri brethren to achieve their inalienable right of self-determination promised to them by the UN. Kashmiris are not deterred by the atrocities committed by the Indian forces, which fact is acknowledged by an Indian army General. The other day, talking to a US news agency Lt. General Hoda said that despite spending billions, India failed to win the hearts of Kashmiri people, adding that the people support Mujahideen while they don’t show any sympathy for the Indian troops fighting the Mujahideen.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.