Syed Qamar A Rizvi
TIME and again, the BJP’s government has been regurgitating its preserved feelings of animosity and antagonism against the Kashmiris by eroding Kashmiri identity through fake demographic changes in Jammu & Kashmir. Pakistan has justifiably accused India of settling non-Kashmiris in the state in an attempt to change the demographic composition of the region. Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria recently made the allegations. “Reportedly, PDP-BJP regime, in violation of UNSC Resolutions, has started issuing domicile certificates to non-Kashmiri Hindus in Jammu. The move is part of the regime’s nefarious designs to change demographic composition of the territory,” he said.
The IHK demographic tapestry reflects that out of 22 state- districts, there are 17 Muslim-majority districts in Kashmir, six in Jammu and one in Ladakh, three Hindu-Majority districts and one Buddhist-majority district. But following the formation of BJP-PDP coalition government in March 2015, the IHK govt decided to take various steps in order to bring demographic changes in IHK.
There have been devious attempts to settle non-State retired army officers in Sainik Colonies, settle West Pakistan Refugees, non-State beggars in temporary shelters, non-State white collar officers serving in the State and non-State students studying in various institutions in Kashmir. Indian administration has plans to parachute non-State Hindu colonies in the State. Delhi is working on a fast track basis to finalise the acquisition of 350 Kanals of land for Rajya Sainik Board, to settle non-State retired army people in district Srinagar and district Budgam.
As for Modi’s government strategy, the entrance of these retired soldiers will double down the Hindu population in Jammu as well as help in deterring the Kashmiri Muslims under the thumb. Basically, IHK is home to 12.5 million people and is divided into three administrative divisions namely- Jammu, Kashmir valley and Ladakh. Earlier there were 14 districts, which were increased to up to 22 in 2006. With an ulterior purpose to alter the demography of IHK, the BJP Government has started returning the Kashmiri pundits to the Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK) under the pretext of their pitiful condition and the need for a permanent settlement. These measures are severely denounced by the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leaders and the local Kashmiris simultaneously as an effort to deter India’s nefarious plans. Indian Government has also planned to lease out land in Jammu and Kashmir to outsiders to start industrial development. In this way, the outsiders will become the direct stakeholders of Jammu and Kashmir.
The 2008 uprising started following an agreement between Indian central government and the IHK government to transfer 99 acres of Kashmir Valley’s forest land to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board to set up temporary shelters and facilities for Hindu pilgrims. Jammu & Kashmir State Subject Inquiry Commission, established to investigate the fake State Subject Certificates, has periodically issued five reports (2001-2013) of the inquiry commission submitted since it was constituted in 1999. Yet the neutral and judicious impartiality of these reports is still very doubtful.
Understandably, the establishment of these colonies for the Indian Army is in complete violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Under Article 49 of the fourth Geneva Convention, the occupying force cannot transfer her civilians to the occupied land under any condition. Besides this, this is against moral and ethical values as well, to turn a particular religion’s followers from the majority into a minority. Apart from this, Indian Government has also started issuing domiciles to the West Pakistan refugees (WPRs) as well. The (WPRs) estimated to be between 250,000-500,000 are those non-Muslims who had migrated from West Pakistan to IOK during partition in 1947.
Kashmiris are justified in their thinking that the Pundit townships, soldier Colonies, SARFEASI Act and now domicile certificates and Supreme Court ruling all are the part of the same evil trajectory. The Indian plan for townships for Hindus closely resembles the Israeli policy of Jewish settlements. In a letter written to the UN Secretary General, Pakistan’s former minister for external affairs Mr Sartaj Aziz suggested that sufferings of the people of Kashmir may be alleviated by implementing the UN resolutions. The effort to turn Jammu and Kashmir into a Hindu majority state is fueled by the intention to influence the UN-supervised referendum, this effort has drawn fire from the Kashmiris as well as the Pakistani Government.
The Valley has a 96% Muslim majority with a small minority of Kashmiri Pandits. By incorporating or replicating an Israeli style Hindu settlements strategy, the Modi government tries to diffuse the impression of Muslim majority in IHK. Since the Modi government took over in 2014, the “Hindu terrorists have been empowered with full support from the state machinery” in Kashmir, causing displacement of scores of Kashmiri Muslim families through a Nazi-coopted design. Apprehensively, the Modi government’s policy seems to be committing the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population by militant Hindus on the style that the Bosnian Serbs used once against the Bosnian Muslims.
New Delhi’s adopted sophistry, of fostering false notions to infuse an artificial or fake Hindu population macrocosm in the Muslim majority areas of IOK Kashmir, represents Modi’s government fear from Kashmiri Muslims, particularly the Kashmiri youth who has an ironclad faith in freedom struggle. An Indian plan to resettle tens of thousands of Hindus in new townships in disputed Muslim-majority region of Kashmir is a blatant violation of UNSC resolutions. This trajectory cannot be succeeded and will bounce back to comeuppance for evil Modi’s actions.
— The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-analyst based in Karachi, is a member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies.
Syed Qamar A Rizvi