Another joke with the Pandits

By K.N. Pandita

Both the Houses of J&K Legislative Assembly have adopted a one sentence “unanimous” resolution saying. “all the political parties should put in all out efforts at their disposal for creating a conducive atmosphere for the safe return of all the migrants especially Kashmiri Pandits, who had to migrate from Kashmir valley to other parts of the country under difficult circumstances”.

Nothing is more uncharitable and ridiculous than responding to the twenty-seven years old issue of ethnic cleansing of Kashmir and extirpation of its millennia old indigenous group from their homes and hearths with just one gratuitous sentence.

The tone and tenor of a lone sentence wrapped in carefully chosen high-sounding parliamentary terminology, and given the name of “Resolution,” is unmistakable indication that that its proponents have other motives than the antics of humanism. They are playing crude politics with those who do not at all count in their political chemistry. It is another joke with them.

We are told that it is the first ever resolution adopted by J&K Assembly on a sensitive issue, which Kashmir political class and its diehard champions in New Delhi —- in or out of government—, have always treated with disdain. For more than a quarter of a century when this community is in exile, the Assembly never felt the need of making even a customary show of humanistic gesture leave aside passing a resolution and that too unanimous. Pandits will not succumb to political gimmicks.

The person who mooted the idea, almost out of the blue, in the Lower House of the Assembly, himself held the reins of government for two consecutive terms. Prior to him, his father also rode the tide of power for a long time. Neither of the two ever felt the need of bringing in such a resolution during their tenure. Now that Omar is swearing by humanism, a word that did not exist in his political lexicon all this quarter of a century has suddenly become a champion of the cause of humanism and a benefactor of the exiled community.

This explains that there is something more than what meets the eye. Firstly, why did the humanitarian sensitivity fail to prick the conscience of the leader of the opposition who himself enjoyed power for two consecutive terms during which he was at the helm of affairs?

Secondly, the text of the one-sentence resolution is denuded of all historicity and contextual background. It is randomly incoherent with neither a prologue nor en epilogue.

Is the option of creating conducive atmosphere in the hands of the legislators or the separatists and secessionists? If it is in the hands of legislator then they have been deliberately and purposefully vitiating the atmosphere all these nearly three decades. The resolution is not going to change their hearts.

But if it is not in their hands, then the resolution is futile and irrelevant. It makes an appeal to the legislators but not to the people of the State, the people who fiercely opposed the return and rehabilitation of the internally displaced Pandits jointly proposed by late Mufti Saeed and PM Modi in New Delhi. It has to be recollected that most of the legislators in the Lower House of the Assembly who “unanimously” voted for the resolution are the very persons who had created huge ruckus in this very house against the return of the Pandits when announcement by the then chief minister and the Prime Minister. Even some MLAs from the ruling group were accomplices in that ruckus. How come this change of heart happened overnight?

After passing the Resolution in the Assembly, what stops them from reverting to the old antics of hunting with the hound and running with the hare?

The Resolution proposes “safe return” of Kashmiri Pandits. Who will ensure their safety? When armed insurgency surfaced in 1989-90 in Kashmir, the NC-Congress coalition government of the day abandoned power and their stalwarts hid either in a foreign country or in the Government quarters in Jammu to escape the wrath of the insurgents leaving the Pandit religious minority to the mercy of the jihadis with drawn swords. Will such governments provide safety to the returning IDPs? Pandits don’t live in a world of illusion.

Will the State police provide them security, the same police that deserted their posts and stations and joined in drones the armed insurgents providing them logistical support? Most of the killings of Pandit government functionaries and in central and state intelligence services took place on the identification by the local police.

And lastly, remains the role of army and Para-military forces. But the State government, mainstream political parties, Hurriyatis and diehard extremists all demand that army be withdrawn, paramilitary forces be withdrawn and only local police should be seen on the streets of the towns and villages of Kashmir. What security can the army or Para-military forces provide to the Pandits when these forces themselves are on slippery wicket? It is not humanly possible to deploy paramilitary and military force to protect each and every Pandit household.

The best security for a religious minority is the good will of the majority community. But in a situation of surcharged religious frenzy, which is a handy instrument with all extremists segments of mainstream or non-mainstream political parties in Kashmir, security of the religious minority becomes a casualty. The Resolution has not said a word in elucidation of ‘security’ it is pontificating.

The Resolution deliberately avoids mentioning the real cause of extirpation of the religious minority from Kashmir in the aftermath of armed insurgency in 1990. It attributes their exodus to “under difficult circumstances”. Any historian, researcher or student reading this Resolution fifty years from now, will never be able to imagine what the “difficult circumstances” were.

In Kashmir, there was armed insurgency sponsored from outside, welcomed by the locals and deftly handled by experienced and battle hardened intelligence sleuths who had accumulated vast experience of conducting identical operations in Af-Pak region for many years. It was a meticulously planned and most efficiently as well as secretly conducted proxy war against India in which the Hindus of Kashmir were made primary target of armed jihadis.

By using the term “difficult conditions” the Resolution absolves the murderers, terrorist, looters, vandals and all who played major role in killing and extirpation of the religious minority of the Pandits followed by loot and arson of their homes and properties. These are not “difficult conditions” but a situation of gravest threat, premeditated, planned and executed with deadly thrust.

By passing a resolution that carefully and cleverly sidetracks the facts of history and the ramifications of ethnic cleansing of a minuscule religious community in the only Muslim majority State of the Indian Union, a big question mark is put on the concept of secularism propounded by the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

In final analysis, the sensible way for doing justice to the extirpated community is to order instituting a Commission of Inquiry headed by three judges of the Supreme Court of India to establish the causes of rise of religious extremism in Kashmir and fix the onus for the extirpation of the Pandit minority community. The findings of such an inquiry will clear huge overgrowth of falsehood and canard under which the stunning truth remains concealed. That will also pave the way for the format of interaction between them and the majority community in Kashmir.

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