By K.N. Pandita
Four month-long paralyzing strike in Kashmir has hardly subsided when the saboteurs have raked up another issue which is likely to proliferate and revive the strike syndrome in the valley. The beginning of chila-e- kalan on Christmas Eve would be a propitious day to begin the seventy day long chila strike in Kashmir.
The centripetal point for the chila-strike will be the issue of domicile certificates to 1947 refugees of partition of India stranded in Jammu region.
Unnecessarily Infuriated by the rumour of issuing domicile certificates to 1947 tribal incursion refugees, the seditionists, traitors, separatist and pro-Pakistani activists in the valley have joined hands and threatened to ”shed the last drop of blood” if the government was determined to give these refugees permanent residence certificates.
This opposition reflects two things. One is that the people of Kashmir valley think that J&K is their ancestral fief on which they alone enjoy exclusive proprietorship. Second is that the State is for the Muslim community only J&K is not only the valley, which, however, is just 7 per cent of the total area of the State. Moreover, in the valley there are religious, ethnic and linguistic minorities also. The State Constitution does not recognize any minority in the State on any count but the Indian Constitution does recognize Muslims of the valley as part of national minority. The State Constitution does not debar them from enjoying the rights and privileges accruing to them thereof. This is clear dichotomy.
The population of Hindus in West Pakistan at the time of partition was about 1.3 crore. Today, it is less than 0.7 per cent. The Muslim population of India at the time of partition was about 6 crore which has risen to 19 crores now, meaning more than three-fold rise.
The population of the valley at the time of accession was about 25 lakhs, and today, after seventy years of independence, it is to the tune of 85 lakhs — more than three-fold increase.
In 1982, a member of J&K Legislative Assembly, who later on became the Finance Minister in NC regime, published a 26-page Urdu pamphlet under the tile “Kashmir main aksariyyat ko aqalliyat main badalne ki sazish” meaning the “Conspiracy of converting the majority in Kashmir into a minority.” In this pamphlet he leveled a plethora of charges against the Indian State of trying to change the demographic complexion of the State. In his book “Insights into Contemporary Kashmir Politics by late Pandit Resh Dev, the author has appended the English version of this pamphlet. The rulers in Delhi and those interested in contemporary Kashmir politics must read it to understand the mindset of valley leadership.
In the background of Pakistan sponsored tribal attack on Kashmir in October 1947, several thousand Hindu families from present-day PoK and adjoining areas of West Pakistan were forced to leave their homes and hearths owing to the genocide of Hindus in Pakistan in the aftermath of partition. Many of those families moved to East Pakistan or present Indian Punjab and Delhi and Rajasthan and settled down there. But about seven thousand families of them comprising nearly fifty thousand souls unwittingly headed towards Jammu either because they had relations here and expected some support from them or were unable to undertake the hazards of a long and arduous journey as they had aged and infirm family members and elders to take care of. They strayed into Jammu in search of shelter.
The State government demanded them to produce proof of their being the residents of J&K State under Maharaja. Obviously, when a man is running for his life he is not expected to look for his property or documents. These refugees could not produce a proof and the government of J&K arbitrarily labeled them as “West Punjab Refugees/” Most of them are the victims of the tribal attack on the State sponsored by Pakistan government and supported by the rebellious Muslim army columns of Maharaja’s force stationed in Poonch and Muzaffarabad etc.
Seventy years have gone by and these refugees now numbering about 1.5 lakh are still on the roadside with neither a nationality, nor an identity, nor a country and nor a domicile. The Centre argues it is the business of the State government and the State passes on the buck to the Centre. Neither of the two is prepared to accept any responsibility though there is no dearth of lip service. This mess is created by the State government.
As non-State subject, they are not the right to vote in assembly elections, they have not the right to buy land, they have not the right to apply for a state job, and they are not entitled to any civic facilities. Thus they are living as aliens in Jammu. The J&K Constitution has reserved 18 seats for PoK and GB. The refugees from PoK demand assembly seats in exile neither the State nor the Central government is prepared to consider it.
Kashmiri youth crossed the border clandestinely, joined Pak-run terrorist camps in PoK and elsewhere in Pakistan, got indoctrinated in fundamentalist ideology, were trained and provided sophisticated weapons, and then they sneaked back into the valley, attacked the police posts and security forces, killed, looted and raped and again ran away to PoK to avoid arrest at the hands of Kashmir police. After committing all conceivable heinous crimes and brutalities, the J&K Government has opened its arms to receive them along with their Pakistani wives and a dozen of kids in the trail, provided them domicile certificates at the point of entry (especially on Nepal border wherefrom they invariably came so much so that J&K Government opened a police post there on Indo-Nepal border to facilitate their arrival) brought them under police escort to Srinagar, offered them government jobs, bank loans and accommodation, admitted their kids in schools, exempted them from fees and thus rehabilitated them more than what their own parents could do for them.
We are not against all this munificence and largesse offered to the seditionists by the J&K government. The point I want to make is that whatever the J&K government did for the “renegades” all falls under “insaniyat”. But where has that “insaniyat” evaporated in thin air when we find three generations of the Pak refugees denied even the right to identity leave all other rights aside.
Is PoK also enforcing State Subject law with as much severity as our government is? What about drastic change in the demographic complexion of Gilgit and Baltistan where the Shia majority of population now stands numerically surpassed by Sunnis from Chital, Hunza, and Sawat brought there by Musharraf when he was the Corps Commander of NA.
How have the valley Muslims accepted and assimilated the Yarkandis, Turkistanis, Chitralis, Afghans, Gujjars and Paharis into their fold but are not prepared to accept the Pandits who are the indigenous people of the valley.
Has anybody asked the Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir to give the figures of Bangladeshis, Biharis, Uttar Pradeshis and Oriya Muslims who have come to the valley over the years as laborers, got mixed up, married in the valley, brought up families and obtained shops, houses and even patches of land. What is their number? How many Maulavis have been imported from Bihar and UP who receive monthly salary to conduct prayers in mosques of Kashmir including Friday congregations in which venom is poured out against India? How come that valley society has absorbed all this but is rising in revolt against seventy-year old hapless, landless, country-less and identity-less people from Pakistan asking for the elementary right of statehood.
Those Muslims of the State, who migrated to PoK in the aftermath of tribal attack, had their properties secured by an exclusive department called Evacuee Property. Is there any such department or organization in POK that has maintained and protected the property of Hindu migrants? None. The Muslims who migrated from Kashmir to POK in 1947 were given royal treatment in Muzaffarabad and Maulavi Yusuf Shah became the President of PoK. What is the treatment given by the government to the refugees from POK or Punjab? Make a comparison and one will find how much bigoted the State Governments have been. Be it NC or Congress or PDP or BJP. They are the chips of the same bloc.
Denial of domicile to these refugees is denial of their human rights. The fanatical people in the valley staged demonstrations when late Mufti Sahib and PM Modi agreed to resettle the displaced community of Pandits in concentrated habitat. The Pandits have as much claim on Kashmir as others have. Their roots are in Kashmir and nobody on earth can deny them the right to live as and where they like in Kashmir.
Nearly 25 thousand Kashmiri Muslims have purchased land and built houses in and around Jammu city. No Jammuite ever objected. More than twenty-five thousand Kashmiri Muslim boys and girls have been brought by their parents and admitted in schools in Jammu. No Jammuite objected to it. How come the valley people think Kashmir valley is their jagir and they will not allow anybody including the indigenous Pandits to come and resettle there as they like.
The people of the valley believe in one way traffic. That will not work. Hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris have business in different parts of the country; thousands of Kashmiris students are studying in professional and non professional institutes in the country; hundreds of thousands of them are receiving scholarships. There is no question of discriminating them. Even monitors have been appointed to ensure that Kashmiri students are not harassed in any way in any educational institute in the country.
Kashmiris cannot be thankless to ignore all this and become fanatically frenzied in saying they will shed blood to stonewall issuance of domicile certificates to the refugees from Pakistan. Those who are willing to shed the blood may do so. Gandhi said that Pakistan will be made on my dead body. Both things happened. The march of history cannot be and has not been stopped by anybody.