By Kashinath Pandit
At a recent meeting of J&K Department of Social Welfare, chaired by the Social Welfare Minister, Sakina Itto, it was disclosed that the department had disbursed an amount of 3.6 crore rupees among 1278 students of the “minority community” during the year 2009-2010 (‘Which Minority?’ B.L. Saraf. State Times, Jammu, 27 April 2010). “Neither the ministry nor the department in question disclosed the identity of the recipients of these scholarships“, commented a retired District and Sessions Judge in J&K.
In a paper presented at a seminar organized by J&K Minorities Rights Forum on 18 December 2009 at Jammu to commemorate UN listed Minority Rights Day, Advocate Tashi Rabstan from Ladakh stated, “The Government of India has offered 20,000 high value scholarships for 2007-08 in the field of technical/professional education to the identified national level minorities. In J&K where Muslims form the majority have been allotted 717 scholarships out of 753. This clearly shows the unfairness and discrimination of the minorities in J&K State (Seminar Proceedings, 18 Dec. 2009, J&K State Minorities Rights Forum.p.3).”
While giving data about state-wise distribution of scholarships to the minorities, Dr. P.S N Murthy, Advocate, Andhra Pradesh High Court records in All India Reporter that in the year 2009, the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs, awarded Muslims 717, Christians 2, Sikhs 22 and Buddhists 12 student scholarships in J& K State (AIR, 2010 Feb, Table 4).
From first two illustrations it is inferred that the State government covertly admits Muslims of the State a minority, whereas, by virtue of the third illustration the Union government indirectly recognizes Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and the Buddhists of the J&K State as minorities.
Are these measures of the State and the Union government in conformity with constitutional provisions? No, not only this in contravention of law, it also vitiates constitutional stipulations.
Clause 1 sub (2) Chapter I of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 lays down: “It (the Act) extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir” (The Act received the assent of the President of India on 17 May, 1992 henceforth called The National Commission for Minorities Act 1992, No. 19 of 1992).
Article 3 sub 2 of the NMC Act of 1992 says that the Chairperson of the NMC shall be from amongst the minority community.
It signifies that no community in the J&K, whether majority or minority, falls within the ambit of the Act for the reason that the entire state is outside the operative jurisdiction of the Commission for Minorities, and by implication, that of the Union Ministry of Social Welfare where address is to be made to the minorities only. Therefore, by appointing Mr. Qureshi, a Muslim from the Valley as the Chairman of NCM in the light of Clause 1 sub (2) Chapter I of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, the Government of India vitiates the spirit of the Act by treating J&K as included in the jurisdiction of the Act. If that is the truth, then not Kashmiri Muslims but Hindus are a minority group, and in the light of Article 3 sub (2), a Kashmiri Pandit should have been appointed Chairman of NCM. Is this not blatant violation of the NCM Act?
This glaring contradiction in terms has led to divergence in theory and practice, to say the least. Minority groups in the State of Jammu and Kashmir are generally under an incorrect impression that they are formally recognized as minorities. This is not the truth. The Constitution of India does not define “minority”. Articles 29 and 30 use the expression “minority” and the group of Articles 25-30 guarantee protection of religious, cultural and educational rights of both the majority and the minority communities.
This not withstanding, Government of India has notified National Minorities by virtue of Section 2 (c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act 1992; they are Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsees.
Minority status accrues to these communities only when juxtaposed to the Hindu religious community which has a majority of nearly 80 per cent in the country. The Indian secular democratic state has addressed the minority issues only through the prism of religions in numbers.
The crux of the matter is the cut and dried definition of ‘minority’ (See Resolution 46/115 of 17 December, 1991, Commission on Human Rights Resolution 1992/16 of 21 February 1992. Also see Articles 3 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Minorities). The concept of minority as an essential and integral part of larger civil society was given for the first time by the United Nations when it kook up universal human rights issue. The UN Commission of Human Rights was initially named Commission for Minorities. Only lately it was re-christened Human Rights Commission and now Human Rights Council.
At the United Nations, Minority Rights edifice is actually built on the basis of General Assembly “Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities” adopted on December 18, 1992. Thus we find that in accordance with the Declaration, the main criteria for a definition is that it has to be a national, ethnic, religious or linguistic minority. Till this day, this broad definition has been the cornerstone of any debate or resolution of the UN Human Rights Council or any other subsidiary of the UN/ECOSOC on minority issues.
But experience gained by Human Rights specialists at the UN and international legal fraternity about new minority groups emerging owing to various factors like rising crescendo of Pan-nationalism, sub-nationalism, aggressive self-determination, assertion of trans-border ethnic, linguistic and religious identity or harsh diktats of history becomes catalyst to extended definition of a “minority” including that of “reverse minority” as in the case of Kashmir Pandits now adequately documented in official records at the UN.
Thus even though the UN Declaration on the Rights of Minorities does not provide precise definition of a minority, yet in broad terms, and in the normal transaction of business, its primary and subsidiary bodies take into account five main groups as minorities on the basis of nationality, ethnicity, religion and language. India, a signatory to the Declaration, has confined her reach to only one out of five identities, viz. religious.
It is true that the Constitution normally sets forth only the main principles of state policy leaving the details of interpretation and analysis to the organs of the state and its democratic institutions including civil society. Some far-reaching input in this context has come from country’s Apex Court whose verdict has the force of law under Article 141 of the Constitution. For example, in T.M.A Pai case, the Supreme Court has held that “since India has been reorganized on the linguistic basis, therefore, for determining minority the unit has to be the State and not the whole of India. Both religious and linguistic minorities are to be considered state-wise” (Minority Rights: The other View, B.L. Saraf, paper presented in the seminar of JK Minority Rights Forum on 18 December 2009.p.2).
In yet another ruling the Supreme Court said that “a minority is an identifiable group of people or community which is seen deserving protection from likely deprivation of its religious, cultural and educational rights by other communities, which happen to be in a majority and likely to gain power in democratic form of government (‘Political, Legal and Social Status of the Rights of Minorities of J&K State’, paper presented by M.L. Kaul in the seminar of J&K Minorities Rights Forum on 18 December 2009 at Jammu. Also see T.M.A. Pai foundation case (2002)8 SCC 481).”
What is substantiated above sufficiently shows that there is good deal of contradiction between the constitutional provisos, their juridical interpretation and what obtains in actual administrative practice. For example, in the light of surge of hitherto unrecognized identities for recognition in contemporary India, re-appraisal of criterion for a group to be declared a minority becomes unavoidable. To be precise, the question is should a state/region be taken as a unit for determining the minority status of certain groups within its jurisdiction as against the entire Indian Union? The question arises because of heterogeneous complexion of Indian nation besides demographic distribution on various counts like nationality, ethnicity, religion, language, and culture.
J&K Sate and Minorities:
Article 1 sub (2) of the National Minorities’ Act of 1992 excludes the Sate of Jammu and Kashmir from the jurisdiction of the NMC Act. Nevertheless the Union government did advise the Stat to have such laws passed by the State Legislature and made applicable by appointing Minority Commission. That never happened. What happened was subversion of the rights of minorities.
In the Guidelines for implementation of Prime Minister’s new 15-Point Programme for the Welfare of Minorities, also lays down that “in States, where one of the minority communities notified under Section 2 (c) of the Act is in fact in majority at State level, the earmarking of physical/financial targets under different schemes will be only for the other notified minorities. J&K is included among the listed states (Paper presented by Tashi Rabstan in the JK Minority Rights Forum on 18 Dec. 2009 at Jammu). But throwing this rider to winds, the government of India Ministry of Minority Affairs awarded 717 out of 753 scholarships to the majority community in J&K State. These should have gone to other minorities excluding the minority which is a local majority if the spirit of the law was to be upheld.
J&K State is governed by its own constitution which does not identify any group as a minority, nor provides any specific safeguards to it. The state constitution is silent on the subject.
However, the Report of Basic Principles Committee, constituted by the Constituent Assembly of the State in 1954, while dealing with the item of fundamental rights, states as this: “Having taken note of the fundamental rights provided in various constitutions including the Constitution of India, recommends the following rights … “Then under item 8, it states: “Cultural and educational rights should also be guaranteed by the constitution. The interests of the minorities should be protected and any section of citizens having a distinct language, script or culture should have the right to conserve the same”.
This is the only place where the Constitution of J&K has brought in, albeit very vaguely, the term “minorities” and then goes on to make a mention of citizens with distinct language script or culture. Since language, script and culture fall in one category, it inadvertently refers to cultural identity of a minority without, of course, specifying it in any detail. The term “Religious minority” does not occur anywhere.
Ordinarily, the state constitution speaks of groups, especially the labourers, peasants, craftsmen and artisans, strictly not in the sense of minorities but as skilled or unskilled groups with obvious economic interests. It nowhere speaks of categorization of economically weaker sections, but generally speaks of “poverty stricken people of the State” without categorizing them.
Jammu and Kashmir State comprises three regions, Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, each region widely varying from the other in terms of geography, topography, ethnicity, religion, race, language, script and culture. It is commonsense that as one unit the state cannot sweep identities under carpet in order to tell the world that there is perfect harmony and no clash of interests among different groups of people. Let us come out of this kind of self-delusion.
It has to be made known that the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir written in 1952-53, was drafted by the Constituent Assembly in which National Conference members where in absolute majority with just one representative – out of a total of 72 – occupying the opposition bench. As such the constitution of the State was the brainchild of one-track thinking and application.
During the anti-monarchy movement, National Conference, the frontline party headed by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, was under great influence of leftists, and Naya Kashmir Manifesto was the bible by which its leadership swore. The most important and immensely hyped issue before the NC during the movement, and immediately after it, was that of putting an end to feudal system of olden days. Naya Kashmir blinkers did not allow it to look sideways; it could not envision deep and wide social intricacies of a civil society on its way to long-range economic planning and development. What ignominious fate awaited Naya Kashmir ideology soon after its lone achievement of land to tillers came to fruition, is a major phenomenon for any serious student of contemporary Kashmir history.
It will be reminded that in the Proclamation made in March 1948 by virtue of which the Chief Administrator became the Prime Minister of J&K State, Shiekh Abdullah categorically stated his government’s policy to take care of state minorities (Se J$K Gazette, March 5, 1948).
Addressing the Constituent Assembly in 1951, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah cited the French Constitution and said, “The source of all sovereignty resides fundamentally in the nation. The future political set up which you (members of Constituent Assembly) decide upon for J&K must also take into consideration the existence of various sub-national groups in our state. Our constitution must not permit concentration of power and privileges in the hands of any particular group or territorial region. It must afford the fullest possibilities to each of these groups to grow and flourish with their cultural characteristics without detriment to the integral units of the state (Archives, J&K Assembly Library).” Notwithstanding this pious utterance, Jammu and Ladakh regions have been protesting for last six decades against discrimination and concentration of power in the hands of Valley elites.
This extract statement from the speech of the Sheikh shows that he had only the three geographical regions of the state in his mind, which, he did recognize in a sense, were three separate social, cultural and linguistic entities though integral to the main body of the state. It can safely be said that he had the concept of geographical entities in mind and not of groups.
There is a fairly comprehensive discussion on the term “citizenship” in J&K Constitution. Good exercise has been done by the framers of the constitution to be specific on state-subject theme.
For example, reflecting on the Delhi Agreement of 11 August 1952, the Sheikh said it was agreed that, “The state legislature shall have powers to define and regulate the rights and privileges of the permanent residents of the state more particularly in regard to acquisition of immovable property, appointments to services and like matters. It was also agreed that special provision should be made in the laws governing citizenship to provide for the return of those permanent residents of J&K who went to Pakistan in connection with the disturbances of 1947 or in fear of them as well as those who had left for Pakistan earlier but could not return.”
Two inferences can be drawn. One is that the state assembly, though representing general masses of the state, cared only for those citizens of the state who went to Pakistan because of disturbance and the fear before or after 1947. There is no mention of those state subjects who, under similar circumstances, were forced to flee the enemy-occupied part of the state and moved to other parts of the Indian Union including the territory of the State itself. The second inference is that those who left the State in 1947 for identical reasons and went to India have, over a period of time, lost their State citizenship rights. So what the constituent assembly cared for was blocks of populations or citizens of the State not their religious, ethnic, linguistic and cultural denominators. This is how the rights of minorities were subverted.
Majority domination in the guise of popular rule (October 1947) with hardly any checks and balances worth the name shook the very foundation of a phenomenon of tolerance that had sweetened life in the valley for previous one century or more. Now under its oppressive dispensation, the miniscule Kashmiri Pandits and other religious minorities of the State began feeling and experiencing discrimination and deprivation in almost all walks of life especially employment and professional trainings. Thousands of Kashmiri Pandit youth left the Valley in a slow process to earn a livelihood outside the State. Though a continuous one, the process was somewhat silent. But in 1990, the rise of Theo-fascist–led armed insurgency forced extirpation of entire Kashmiri Pandit miniscule religious minority from its ancient habitat in the Valley. Most of the displaced families got stuck up in Jammu in refugee camps or rented accommodation.
Sometimes in September 1996, a small group of dedicated social workers, imbued with a sense of struggle to lift the community from the ashes, came together and formed an organization by the name of Kashmiri Hindu Minority Conference (KHMC). Its primary aim was to work for formally securing minority status for the Hindu religious minority of the Valley now in internal displacement. It mobilized opinion of the community members through seminars, symposia, publications and mass media.
On 18 December, 1998 – the UN listed International Minority Rights Day – members of KHMC met for a scheduled meeting in Jammu with Prof. Gopi Kishen Muju, the Convener, in the chair. Like scores of other Kashmiri Pandits, the illustrious father of Prof. Muju had become a victim of the killing spree of armed insurgents in the valley in early days of 1990. As follow-up to its deliberations, KMHC submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister of J&K. Among other things, the Memorandum listed seven measures which the State should take to bring relief to minorities.
Put succinctly, these were:
- (1) Amendments in the State Constitution to the effect that regional minorities in the State are recognized and declared as minorities under the State Constitution and given Minority Status.
- (2). State government takes steps to provide extension of the jurisdiction of the NCM Act 1992 to the J&K State.
- (3). State government constitutes an advisory committee comprising representative of minority groups, legal experts and government representative to prepare a blue print for presentation to the State Legislature in regard to grant of Minority Status to regional minority groups in the state.
- (4). Privileges and facilities which would accrue to the minorities after their recognition be stated in the Constitution when a Bill for amendment is introduced.
- (5). Minority groups be given adequate representation in all the three organs of the State.
- (6). Amended Constitution should provide effective mechanism of redressing the grievances of the minorities, and
- (7). While amending the State Constitution it should be made obligatory on all formally recognized political parties to have a Minority Cell each to educate party on secular and democratic norms.
Copies of the Memorandum were sent to the Union Home Minster and the Chairman National Commission for Minorities, Government of India. The Convener in person presented a copy to the then Governor, Mr. G.C. Saxena.
The memorandum fell on deaf ears. But Mr. Tahir Mahmood, the Chairman of National Minorities Commission did respond. On 10 March 1998, he wrote to Prof. Muju: “….. I have all my life been a champion of Hindu-Muslim unity and equality and have been advocating this cause from all possible platforms. I will surely do for my Hindu brethren in the Valley whatever I am capable of (No.CH/3/98/NCM dated 10 March, 1998).”
Subsequent to his press statement of 30 January 1998 to which he had alluded in the letter to the Convener KHMC, the Chairman gave a detailed interview to the correspondent of the Times of India (March 3, 1998). The highlights of this interview are given below:
“Like many other acts, NCM is also not applicable in JUK. Also, according to the NCM Act, Hindus are not an identified minority (The Times of India, March 3, 1998). This mindset needs to be changed. There is a general feeling that minority in this country means Muslims. This is not correct. There are other minorities as well. My personal interpretation of the NMC Act is that this does not mean that we cannot look after the interest of any other minority community other than those identified by the Act. Recommending that the Commission’s jurisdiction should be extended to the Hindu minority in the militancy-torn State of Jammu and Kashmir, he said that the state government should set up a minority commission and if it is not in a position to do so, it should ratify the Parliamentary legislation so that we are able to take the stet under our jurisdiction to protect the interests of minorities there.”
Notwithstanding the fact that NCM has no jurisdiction over the J&K State, the Chairman called a meeting of the Commission in early January 1999 to discuss the matter. On 9 March 2000 the Commission resolved that (a) “the Kashmiri Pandits should be declared a minority community at the national level and a formal notification for this purpose should be issued by the Government of India, and (b) the territorial jurisdiction of the NCM Act 1992 should be extended to the State of J&K.” This recommendation was conveyed to the Union Government on May 1, 2000 (Paper presented by Tashi Rabstan at the 18 December 2009 seminar in Jammu. P. 2). It termed all the seven demands of the KHMC as “genuine and reasonable”. Endorsing the demands, it recommended to the J&K Government as well as the Union Government to accept the demands and take appropriate actions in the matter. The text of Chairman NCM’s letter to Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Chief Minister of J&K State and Mr. L.K. Advani, the then Union Home Minister is as this (Chairman NCM’s letter No.CD/4/98/NCM dated 12 January 1999. It will be reminded that this letter was sent at a time when the massacre of Kashmiri Pandits in village Wandhama had occurred and which shocked the Commission).
The ‘Kashmir Hindu Minority Conference’ has submitted to the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir on 18.12.1998 an important Memorandum containing some significant demands. They have approached me for intervention. I received their letter on 11.1.1999 and immediately took up the matter with Dr. Farooq Abdullah.
I am enclosing herewith a copy of the Memorandum of the ‘Hindu Minority conference’ and of the letter sent by me in this connection to the Chief Minister.
On behalf of the National Commission for Minorities, I commend and request that you may kindly issue necessary directions to the Government of Jammu and Kashmir for an early acceptance and implementation of the very reasonable demand made by the ‘Hindu Minority Conference’, which the Commission has fully endorsed in their entirety. (Sd/ Tahir Mahmood. Chairman)
Advani and Farooq did not respond either to the Memorandum of the KMHC or the recommendations of NCM Chairman. In 1997, J&K government had constituted Sub-Regional Autonomous Committee under the chairmanship of Mr. Balraj Puri, a well-known journalist, civil rights activist in Jammu and long time protagonist of sub-regional identities in the State. On 16 May 1997, KHMC Convener G.K. Muju wrote to him “ … A community without any territory and in a state of exile can derive benefit from any measure of autonomy only when it has a territory, which it can claim as its habitat. Since providing territory to this community or its rehabilitation is apparently outside the terms of reference of your Committee, you could recommend in your report that the State government appoints a special committee for the internally displaced Hindu Minority of Kashmir to consider physical, judicial, constitutional and other related aspects of bringing the Kashmiri Hindus under the umbrella of sub-regional autonomy now under your consideration.” Puri did not respond.
As the KHMC built pressure through legitimate means, the new chief minister of the state, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad (Congress) began to react. Speaking before the Sikh Sangat and Christian congregation he revealed his government’s intention to have a minority commission at the state level to safeguard the rights of the regional minorities. The Working Group on Good Governance, constituted by the Prime Minister and headed by Naresh Chander Saxena had recommended for setting up of State Minorities Commission. Two MLAs of the day, namely Ajay Sadhotra and S.M. Bukhari, moved private members Bill No. 12 of 2006 in the State Assembly for constituting a State Commission for Minorities, with a view to safeguard, protect and ensure development of minorities in the state. The bill, however, was not carried through (‘Minority Rights, the other view: An achievable demand’ by B.L. Saraf, former District and Sessions Judge, paper presented in the 18 December 2009 seminar. P.4).
In the 2007 session of the State Legislative Assembly, Chief Minister Azad declared on the floor of the house that a State level Minority Commission would be set up. This augured well for all the efforts that KHMC was making. Taking advantage of the announcement KHMC prepared a draft bill (almost at par with the NCM Act of 1992) for facilitating preparation of necessary Act for the State. It was meant to serve as reference in the preparation of a Bill by the government for necessary legislation. On May 7, 2005, KHMC handed over a copy of the draft bill to Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Chief Minster of J&K State who initiated the process through the State Ministry of Law. In a news item appearing in some local papers of the day it was said that the Law Department had completed the process for constituting J&K State Minority Commission. Thereafter nothing has been heard about the fate of the bill (Waris Gill, seminar paper, Seen note 18 infra).
Meanwhile other minorities of the State, particularly the Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists also actively demanded their minority rights and protested against exclusion of the State from the jurisdiction of the NCM. The KHMC watched their struggle with keen interest and began to feel that not only the Hindu minority in the valley but all minorities in the State had a stake in the State Commission for Minorities. Realizing the need and strength in making a unified effort by all minorities for their rights, KHMC established contacts with the representatives of other minorities namely Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, and Sikhs. Thus came into being the present formation by the name J&K Minorities Rights Forum with the single-theme agenda of obtaining minority status for the minority communities of the State. An ad hoc body of 16-member formation – representatives of all minority communities – was formed with Dr. K.N. Pandita to chair its sessions. Transformation into an all state minority formation was hailed by various sections of people (Advocate Waris Gill, President of J&K Christian Association said that we are all united under the name and style of J&K Minorities Forum and we have eminent persons amongst us to advocate the cause of Minorities.” Sardar Suchwant Singh, representative of Sikh minority community said “It is a noble idea of forming J&K Minorities Forum by including all minorities and working together for the just cause. We appreciate the idea and support it fully.” Advocate Tashi Rabstan, representative of Ladakh Buddhists said that Buddhist minority community of Ladakh region has been victimized and discriminated by successive Governments in J&K for last 62 years and I thank J&K Minorities Rights Forum for organizing a seminar on the legal, political and social status of the rights of minorities of J&K State. See Seminar Proceedings 18 Dec. 2009). A Press Release of December 3, 2009 issued by the J&K Minorities Rights Forum formally announced the formation of the new forum.
On 18 December 2009, the new formation henceforth called J&K Minorities Rights Forum organized a seminar on ‘Political, legal and social status of the Rights of Minorities of J&K State’ to mark the UN Minorities Rights Day and to seek justice for various religious minorities of the State. Rev. Bishop Peter Celestine was the Chief Guest, and Rev. Togdan Rimpochy, President All Gompa Association was the Guest of Honour. Dr. K.N. Pandita presented the key-note paper. It was attended by a good gathering of intelligentsia, and the representatives of Hindus of Jammu, Kashmiri Pandits, Sikhs, Christians and Buddhists presented very valuable papers that reflected their urge for constituting a minority commission for the state to take care of the rights of its minorities. The Press Release issued subsequent to the seminar listed 7 demands all mainly focusing on (a) constituting State Minority Commission, and (b) Extending the jurisdiction of the NCM to J&K State.
Denial of minority rights is adversely affecting these communities of the State. A separate paper will be needed to list major discrepancies. However one or two examples would do. The glaring and serious instance of political manip8lation to harm the interests of the Buddhist community was the delimitation of the Zanskar Assembly constituency. Zanskar, one of the most inaccessible areas with it’s headquarter at Padum, is a sub-division of Kargil district but demographically and culturally it is a Buddhist area. For about eight months in the year it is completely cut off from the district headquarter. It has its own problems of development which can be taken care of by the representative of Zanskar only. But strangely three patwari circles of Kargil sub-division, viz. Panikkher (170 km away from Padum), Lankarachi and Barsoo (both 200 km away fro Padum), were included in the Zanskar constituency. These three patwari circles (PCs) are thickly populated by the Muslims. Clearly the objective of these steps was to present a Buddhist from getting elected to the State Assembly.
The second example is of the Sikh minority community that migrated to the Indian part of the State in 1947. The State constitution reserves 24 Assembly seats for the part of the state under illegal occupation of Pakistan. Displaced Sikhs (and Hindus) from PoK in 1947 have been demanding that a minimum of 4 seats be given to them in proportion to their population. This very reasonable demand has never been conceded by the State government. It is unfortunate that 45000 souls who faced genocide, destruction of their property, loot, and killing in PoK are still unsettled and living in refugee camp.
In final analysis, it will be seen that the Union and the State government both are violating the relevant clauses of the constitution of India and the UN Charter on the rights of minorities to the severe detriment of the minority communities of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. There is neither logic nor justice in excluding J&K minorities from the jurisdiction of the National Commission for Minorities.
- The End. (The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University).