The Seriousness of Hypocrisy

Published in Kashmir Herald, Vol 4/No. 6, by Prof. K. N. Pandita.

The oft-repeated cliché of “return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits with dignity and honour” suits all shades of political opinion. The credulous Pandits are gleeful that the political class does care for their dignity and honour. Very often an odd man here or there poses a cross question only to be shouted down and silenced invariably by his own community members.

That the cliché is devoid of seriousness and sincerity is not at all a moot point. What is rather intriguing is that the Pandits knowing that lip service is rendered to them are not prepared to summon courage and give a lie to those who play with their sentiments.

Or it can be interpreted in a different way. The Pandits want to play bigger hypocrites than the political class and, therefore, make them believe that they too think like that.

My former colleague at the University of Kashmir, late Dr. Apurab Somnath once asked us,” Define a hypocrite?” He did it himself and said,” A hypocrite is one who begins to believe in his own lies.” So the politicians believe they are sincere in the return and rehabilitation of the Pandits and the latter believe they sincerely want to return and get rehabilitated. Look at sadism; both are hypocrites to the hilt.

The majority in the valley says that the Pandits left of their own free will. But some still cling steadfast to the belief that Jagmohan prompted them to leave. Thus from their standpoint, the Pandits betrayed their freedom movement, betrayed Kashmir and betrayed Kashmiriyat. Therefore their return is not at all an aspect of Kashmir problem, which has to be solved without seeking any opinion of the Pandits. This in fact is also the opinion of a large segment of the ruling structure, the bureaucracy and the administration. To a large extent the Indian political class, the persons in positions of power and also to some extent the public opinion, all have been manipulated through the sold – out media to strengthen and proliferate this set of opinion.

With this frame of mind, the politicians everywhere, and especially the left adherents of Adhikari thesis (who go a step further from calling Kashmir a “disputed territory”) are prepared to agree with the majority population in the valley that there is no justification in asking the departed community to return and re-settle at their places. This is a dead issue and there is neither any need nor utility in stoking the embers.

On the other side, the Pandits argue that proliferation of indoctrination and militarism was so secretive and fool proof that even the parents of the militants did not know of the conspiracy. The killing of hundreds of innocent Pandits in their offices, work places, homes and market places plus the barbarity, with which their dead bodies were lynched, pierced, gouged out and sliced, all reflect the intense hatred and animus that had been injected into the brains and veins of the militants against the minuscule religious minority community of Kashmiri Pandits. They had no alternative but to leave their homes to an unknown destination and an uncertain future. Thus they say ethnic cleansing of the Pandits from Kashmir was a calculated step to make Kashmir a part of the contemplated Islamic Caliphate that had already been conceptualized and had entered the implementation phase.

As far as the Indian Government, it has been subtly shifting from positivity to neutrality to negativity, in accordance with the audience it reaches and the situation it is in. Its rhetoric for domestic consumption is that there are only a handful of “misguided” youth in Kashmir and the majority of the armed fighters are infiltrating from Pakistan. But for external audience it has the threadbare statements like the one given in black and white to the International Commission of Jurists in 1994, which the Commission have incorporated in their published report on their findings in Kashmir.

Assuming that both sides have a case to present and should not be dismissed summarily, how do we address the issue? Nobody has so far produced a work countering the assertions of Jagmohan in his My Frozen Turbulence over Kashmir. Even western writers pronouncedly sympathetic to the militants like Alistair Lamb and Schophel have based their beliefs on the hearsay carefully circumventing impartial examination of facts and fiction through a process of checks and cross checks. It testifies to the instrumentality of disinformation campaign as the essential component of Kashmir armed insurgency. Rumour – mongering is part of Kashmirian psyche, not today or yesterday but since thousands of years. Rajatarangini bears us out.

Assuming that we underrate subjecting facts and fiction in this context to any cross examination, then is there a way to come out of this morass? Is there a methodology we can conveniently adopt to put the historical record straight? After all is it not our duty to sift the truth from the falsehood and the grain from the hash? Do we not owe anything to our future generations in respect of telling them historical truths?

In my opinion unless we are able to establish the veracity of either this or that side of the view of Kashmiri Pandit exodus, we may never be able to see the accomplishment of their “return and rehabilitation with dignity and honour”. Therefore we need putting the record straight for the benefit of our future generations. But before doing that, we need to put it straight first and foremost for our political leadership at all levels, local, regional, national and international. This is of utmost importance and should be undertaken most urgently. It is a key to unlocking many a juggernaut of Kashmir problem. Return and rehabilitation of the Pandits to Kashmir without coercion will be the most conspicuous landmark of India’s history of secular democracy. It will be a warranty of India’s territorial integrity and political sovereignty.

The most decisive instrument to deliver the entire sub-continent and the world at large from the looming disaster is to establish an independent Commission of Inquiry headed by a retired senior Supreme Court judge of proven integrity to unravel the causes, course and effects of the rise of religion – based armed insurgency in Kashmir in 1990 or earlier culminating in the mass exodus of the Pandit community and the consequential disastrous events down to the present day. If the Government of India needs a guideline in tackling similar disasters in other parts of the country at one or other point of time, the findings of such a Commission of Inquiry would serve as an eye-opener. The findings of the CoI will in itself become a verdict and the last word on return or no return of the internally displaced community.

(The author is the former Director of the Center of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University).

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