Kashmir’s secularism a symbolic tradition
International law says people fighting for self-determination can use force in order to achieve their independence – Norman Finkelstein
Kashmir’s seasoned journalist, Moti Lal Kotru, in a local Kashmir daily stated that Indian security forces and authority cannot absolve themselves of recent indiscriminate killings in Gool, Ramban of unarmed civilians terming it as tragic and deplorable. (July 23, 2013) It may be recalled that a twenty four hours curfew was clamped as India contemplated a backlash from the general public of Kashmir. Kotru also stresses the point that various draconian laws extended to Kashmir in the last sixty five years of occupation "make it part of the problem of dissatisfaction and alienation and Indian security forces are led to believe that they can get away with anything; killings and rape included".
A lull before the storm situation prevails as Kashmiris have not come to terms with this evil action on the part of Indian army, away from the usual targeted civilian population, pouncing on a few thousand Muslims of difficult hilly terrain of Ramban. It is believed that the sinister act was an exercise to divert local and international attention of a much serious issue of Afzal Guru’s murder. Indian official Satish Verma exposed the plot as inside job involving Indian army and intelligence agency RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) for orchestrating terror at Mumbai and Indian parliament at Delhi.
Historically speaking Kashmiri Pandits played vital role in political history, culture, music and imparting worldly knowledge to their Muslim compatriots which Kashmiri Muslims acknowledge without any iota of doubt. The highest literary and pedantic knowledge gave minority Pandits an edge over majority Muslim populace. There is a long list of nationalist learned Pandits who made an impact on the events of politics in Kashmir. Notable among them are Dr Peshin, Damodhar Bhat, Kashyap Bandhu,Thokur Joo, Jia Lal Kilm, Shiv Naraian Fotedar, Sham Lal Saraf, Amarnath Kak, DP Dhar and many more leaving a memorable mark on Kashmir’s political future. The last Prime Minister of an independent Kashmir, the nationalist leader Ram Chand Kak was removed, replaced by a non-Kashmiri Mehr Chand Mahajan, from the job soon after India laid the plan to interfere with Kashmir in mid nineteen forties.
Pandits, on a fateful day, in an intrigue were displaced en-masse to get a free hand to deal with Muslims of Kashmir, an act that became the dark chapter of Kashmir history. The holocaust started killing tens of thousands of Muslims and Pandits leaving all their possessions behind suffered in the revolting camps of Jammu, Sambha and Nagrota.
Neeraj kak, a young enlightened Kashmiri Pandit writes in Hindustan Times "All D.P.Dhars, B.K.Nehrus and Fotedars put together did not do anything to improve the lot of Kashmiri Pandits. What they did was fill their own pockets with ill gotten monies; set up their progeny for life. Pay a visit to Jammu refugee camps where thousands of Pandits are rotting in fetid camps and ask them, whether any of these powerful Pandits visited them to inquire after their well being".
Professor MN Tickoo of Government College, Islamabad Kashmir in an interview says that "I left with my family on Friday, 31st May 1990 with the first light in the dawn and reached Jammu same day in the early afternoon. I still remember that fateful day when I was forced by none other than my own wife and daughters to leave. All my Muslim neighbours came to my home biding my family a fond farewell with tearful eyes. I and my neighbours never wanted my family to leave Kashmir but there was definitely a massive psychological fear created by unknown agencies against the Kashmiri Pandits which forced us to leave, although the fact remains that not a single Muslim forced us to leave”....Kashmir had never been part of India or British India.... I believe that Kashmiri Pandits should have remained in the Valley and fought the freedom struggle with their fellow Muslim citizens".
Another nationalist Pandit Raj Nath Turki writes a letter to his Muslim friend saying, "I came here (Jammu) in end July that too when ‘security people’ at Karan Nagar forced us to leave".
Sudha Kaul in her book the tiger ladies sums up Kashmir uprising in the following words "The government of India comes down ruthlessly but unsuccessfully on the militancy. It is letting everything go from bad to worse, and the hatred of the masses for Indian troops and their tactics multiplies. It is true, the talk of rebel Muslim boys being tortured, shot and then thrown into the lakes by government troops. .Tip of the iceberg..They say that even at the worst of times, Mujahedeen leaders delivered Shivratri supplies to Pandits still living in Kashmir. Some say Muslim neighbours begged the Hindus not to leave but they had to. The self-determination that had been promised to Kashmiris by Nehru can longer be swept under the carpet".
Joe Biden Vice-President of United States of America currently on a visit to India, it is hoped will use the opportunity to impress upon the government of India to redouble efforts to settle the longstanding problem of Kashmir. A lot of blood has already been spilled and it will be a futile exercise to keep Kashmiris subjugated with the barrel of gun. The powers on the international level have already shown their concern and feel that Kashmir needs a solution as per the wish of its people.
It goes beyond doubt that Kashmiri Pandits are a part and parcel of Kashmir as Kashmir is their ancestral home and they have equal rights with Muslim fellow citizens to live peacefully as before. Unfortunately the elite affluent class of a select group of Pandits allowed them to get exploited at the hands of India’s fundamentalist fascist organisations and are bent on creating mischief. Kashmiri Pandits have always displayed true nationalism and have fought for injustice and tyranny of ruthless rulers shoulder to shoulder with their Muslims brothers from time to time.