Panun Kashmir
A  HOMELAND  FOR  KASHMIRI  PANDITS
Kashmir Herald


Kashmir Sentinel
| Home | <<< Back to formatted version |  

Why Homeland?
for Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir?
(Panun means "Our own")

Ami pana so'dras nAvi ches lamAn, Kati bozi Day myon meyti diyi tAr
Ameyn tAkeyn poniy zan shemAn, Zuv chum bramAn gara gatshaha.

With a rope of loose-spun thread am I towing my boat upon the sea.
Would that God heard my prayer and brought me safe across!
Like water in cups of unbaked clay I run to waste.
Would God I were to reach my home!
- Lal Ded

Dedication

This book is dedicated to all those members of our community who pride themselves for their glorious heritage and seek to reclaim their self-esteem, their identity and their roots in the Valley of Kashmir.

HOMELAND

We live to share your grief
and die to suffer your agony
as they ravage you and defile
and drive us into exile.
In wilderness we wander
without our souls that we left with you;
nothing do our ears hear
but your heart-rending groans;
and all that our eyes see
are wounds that bleed thee.
Our memories have fled,
what lingers in your ignominy;
now our feet seek the paths
that lead us back to thee,
as we take in hand the mighty pen
to fight the terrorists gun.
Our speech ends in one refrain
-- HOMELAND;
dearer to us than all the heavens,
we pledge to reclaim thee,
as the spirit craves, our land of birth,
and the lips thirst to kiss your earth;
Our sacred land,

Our Homeland.

Introduction

Kashmiri Hindus are in their twentieth year of exile after Islamic religious fundamentalists in the valley of Kashmir took to armed subversion and terrorism and drove them out of their centuries old habitat. 

Panun Kashmir in its December 1991 convention Margdarshan, staged in the city of Jammu, introduced the Historic Homeland Resolution. It was unanimously adopted by more than a thousand delegates of the exiled community, who flocked from all towns and cities, where they have taken refuge, and who represented diverse shades of opinion. The operative part of the resolution demanded: 

(a) the establishment of a Homeland for the Kashmiri Hindus in the Valley of Kashmir comprising the regions of the Valley to the East and North of river Jhelum.

(b) that the Constitution of India be made applicable in letter and spirit in this Homeland in order to ensure right to life, liberty, freedom of expression and faith, equality and rule of law. 

(c) that the Homeland be placed under the Central administration with a Union Territory status; and

(d) that all the seven hundred thousand Kashmiri Hindus, including those who have been driven out of Kashmir in the past and yearn to return to their homeland and those who were forced to leave on account of terrorist violence in Kashmir, be settled in the homeland on an equitable basis with dignity and honor.
 


Panun Kashmir: A Homeland for Kashmiri Pandits.


Since the resounding success of the convention and whole-hearted endorsement of the Resolution which has become the rallying point for all intellectuals, political scientists and the common man alike, Panun Kashmir has transferred into a beacon-light for the community. It has evolved into a movement symbolising the hopes, the urges and the aspirations of the community. 

There have been wide ranging discussions and debates amongst the political, journalistic and lay circles in the Kashmir Valley, in the State of Jammu & Kashmir and in the whole country on the Homeland demand. This demand has received great appreciation and understanding over the last one year from many quarters. Though a large segment of the exiled community is in full agreement with and committed to homeland there may be some who may have reservations. Being secular, nationalistic and democratic to the core, the community has the right to rationalize this idea. In the process, there will be many queries and doubts about the bold concept for the repatriation of the exiles with full political, constitutional and legal guarantees. It is to answer these queries and to clear the fog of cynicism and misunderstanding created by vested interests and the enemies of the community that Panun Kashmir feels it a duty to come out with this booklet which attempts to provide a brief outline of the genesis of the demand for a homeland, and follows it up with explanations to the pertinent questions relevent to this demand. We hope that this booklet shall provide some insight into the historical compulsions of the community to ask for a homeland in the Valley of Kashmir. It will be our endeavour to continue this debate in the future as well, till we achieve a large measure of success in convincing all right-thinking people about the urgency, genuineness and sincerety of this demand. However, we caution the members of the community to remain vigilant against a number of divisive forces within the community and outside, who have been active, on their own or at the behest of the terrorists and other enemies of the community and of the country, at spreading canards and disinformation against the demand for a homeland; thus, raising doubts in the minds of the people of this beleaguered nation and compounding the confusion that prevails in the community in its exiled state. 

Panun Kashmir has unshakable faith in the unity and integrity of India. It is wedded to secularism, democracy, rule of law and respect for all religious faiths. It is opposed to communalism, religious fundamentalism and terrorism in any form or guise. And it is committed to the repatriation of all exiles from the Valley of Kashmir to their homeland with dignity and honor. 

Genesis (Why Homeland?)

We come to you
as friends,
But you attack us
as enemies;
And between our friendship
and your enmity,
There is a deep ravine
flowing with tears
and blood

---- Khalil Gibran

The State of Jammu and Kashmir

The Jammu and Kashmir State is a conglomeration of heterogeneous geographical regions inhabited by diverse but distinct ethnic, religious and linguistic people. Out of a total of nearly 84000 square miles of the State, the Valley of Kashmir accounts for about 3000 square miles. Nearly a third of the State was annexed by Pakistan during the invasion of 1947 after partition of the subcontinent. Ladakh, the largest segment of the State is thinly populated, mostly by the people of the Budhist faith, and the neighbouring Kargil by Muslims. The Jammu province has a predominant Hindu population with some of its districts evenly represented by both Hindu and Muslim communities. The Valley of Kashmir is predominantly Muslim with a small representation of Hindus and Sikhs. The Hindus of Kashmir Valley are essentially Kashmiri Pandits.


The Map of Jammu and Kashmir.

Area: 2,22,236 sq. kms. out of which 78,114 sq. km. is under illegal occupation of Pakistan, 5,180 sq. km. illegally handed over by Pakistan to China, and 37,555 sq. km. is under illegal occupation of China.

The Hindus of the Valley

The Kashmiri Hindus have a distinct identity dating to more than five thousand years in the Valley. They are Kashmiri speaking and followers of Hindu faith with a unique emphasis on Shaivism. They are essentially peace-loving and non-violent; living in a spirit of accomodation and amity with the people of all faiths. This bent of mind made them assimilate, absorb and integrate the essence of those faiths which people from outside brought into the valley. The mingling of faiths gave birth to the Sufi-Rishi tradition which is a part of real Kashmiriat. 

Advent of Islam and Persecution

Ever since the advent of Islam in Kashmir in 1339 A.D. the Hindus, who are the original inhabitants of the Valley, have from time to time faced tyrannics of the Muslim rulers in various forms who imposed taxes, perpetrated the most barbaric methods of torture, brutalised and killed them in thousands, forced their females into marriage and males into conversion, desecrated and demolished their temples and built mosques over them and forced the remaining Hindus into exile. These people faced the trauma of exodus from the valley repeatedly, living in the wilderness of remote areas and jungles till such time as the hurricanes of religious bigotry and persecution calmed down a little and some of the exiles returned to their homes. In the wake of each exodus the community suffered untold hardships, mutilation, death and destruction and its numbers in the Valley of Kashmir dwindled at a staggering rate, reducing the community to a minority in its own land. 

Accession to India & Persecution

Even after the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to the secular and democratic India in 1947, the Hindus of the valley have been leading a life of subjugation, denial and deprivation, of fear and uncertainty, of unequal opportunities, of compromise and religious constraints, and of persecution of all forms at all levels resulting in its continuous emigration during these apparently peaceful periods. This steady flow of migration spurted especially during the invasion by Pakistan in 1947. Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971, and during the Kashmiri Pandit agitation in 1967. This steady flow reached a crescendo during the communal frenzy of 1986. 

The real import of  'Naya Kashmir'

The National Conference rode to the crest of power in the wake of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India with its "Naya Kashmir Manifesto". On paper, it looked as a secular, progressive and democratic model hoping to shape the future of the State by providing a political and economic agenda for the amelioration of the lot of the common man. But in practice, it aimed at reorganisation of the State into a political system which had a favourable bias for the Muslim majority. 

By the introduction of land reforms in the State, the Hindus were hit severely as it deprived them even of their small holdings. They were forced to seek migration to towns and outside the State to earn a living. Many enactments were passed in succession in the year 1964 like Abolition of Jagirdari Act, Distressed Debtors Relief Act and, in 1976, the Agrarian Reforms Act. These Acts were all contrived to the detriment of the Hindu community and as a prelude to its destruction. Under the garb of communal amity, equality and the provision of opportunities for the suppressed and the down-trodden, the Government in utter disregard to the principle of universal right to equality of opportunity and protection against discrimination on the basis of religion, promoted the cause of the Muslim majority of the State. 

The rules for recruitment to State Government Services were changed from time to time to suit the Muslim majority, as also the rules for admission into educational institutions for professional and higher education. As a result the Hindus in the Valley faced discrimination in admission to schools, professional institutions and universities, in government jobs, placements, transfers and promotions and discrimination in the distribution of loans and subsidies for setting up private enterprises. 

While in the rest of India there were safeguards for the protection of minority rights, in Kashmir it was the other way round. The majority rights were safeguarded, promoted and glorified with total disregard for the legitimate rights of the minority which faced a perpetual squeeze at all levels, on all fronts: constitutional, judicial, bureaucratic, administrative and social. As a result, the lands and estates of the minority Hindus were forfeited, temple properties anexed and the community members eased out of important positions and portfolios through a perfectly orchestrated plan, thus, excluding the community from the administrative apparatus of the State. 

The voice of the minority community got drowned in the cacophony of Islamic revivalism and fundamentalism as it lost even its feeble representation when the only constituency of Habbakadal, which had a Hindu majority, was redefined to the total disadvantage of the Hindus, rendering them ineffective even from electing their representative to the State Legislature. Most of the community members had to resort to the only method of appeal left to them for the redressal of their grievances; that was to knock at the doors of Justice as is evident from the innumerable individual and collective writ-petitions of the community admitted in the law courts against the administration, bureaucracy and other institutions of the State. Unfortunately, they faced disappointment a number of times from the State Judiciary as a result of which the Hindus had to move the Supreme Court of India for justice. One case might make the point viz. Triloki Nath Tiku & others vs. the State where the Supreme Court of India gave a verdict in favour of promotion of hundreds of Hindu school teachers who had been superseded by the State government in gross violation of their rights. The orders of the highest court of the land were flouted repeatedly by the State administration. Most of the appellants after spending time, money and resources, were not properly rehabilitated. There are thousands of similar cases on record. 

Administrative and State Conspiracy

The State administration, over the decades, since accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India, acquiesced to the designs of religious fundamentalists who gained entry in the system and consolidated their hold on various institutions of the State. This affected a total metamorphosis of the secular-democratic character of the constitutional, judicial and executive apparatus of the State and recasted it into a purely Islamic mould. 

The names of numerous towns, villages and institutions which were of Hindu origin and even the names of some Hindu pilgrim centres were rechristened by the State government in the process of official Islamization of the valley. In fact, the history of the valley is being tampered with, redefined and rewritten to give it an Islamic thrust. The Kashmiri Muslims seem to feel contemptuous of their proud Hindu origin and are bent upon defacing and destroying its tradition. 

As a cover to these machinations the successive governments of the State, by cunning, artifice and deceit, managed to perpetuate a state of uncertainty and waywardness in the politics of the State, keeping alive the issue of accession of the State to the Union of India and encouraging the forces of secession in the valley. They have nurtured fundamentalists and communal groups who keep on drumming the slogan of plebiscite and self-determination thus holding the Central government on a tight leash. At the time of giving accountability, the State government has indulged in its favourite trick of browbeating the Centre by asking for greater concessions to the State, ostensibly to contain and muzzle secessionist elements in the valley. In this battle of wits there has always been a steady erosion of central authority as the Central governments have encouraged a policy of drift and appeasement and turned a blind eye to the process of Muslimization of the State and the ascendency of the fundamentalists, revivalists and secessionists. Muslim majoritarianism has been allowed to thrive in the valley at the cost of the Kashmiri Pandits who were marginalized from every sphere of social and political life and reduced to a helpness, beleagured community eking out an existence at the mercy of the Muslim majority. 

Perseverance of Kashmiri Pandits

Inspite of the denial of opportunities and discrimination during successive Muslim regimes in the State since 1947, the Kashmiri Pandits have shown remarkable perseverence. They accepted constraints and went out of their way to maintain unity and brotherhood with the Muslim majority. They wanted to exist and co-exist, but co-existence was one-sided. What appeared to the rest of India as a model of religious harmony in the State, was infact the self-effacing suffering and sacrificing attitude of the Hindus who were the bulwark of this 'secularism' in the State. 

Indoctrination of the Masses

While the Pandits always offered a hand of friendship and amity to the Muslims, the latter found ways and means of excluding them from their share of progress and development in the State. Side by side, the 'Maktubs' (schools for imparting Islamic religious teaching) and mosques were used a breeding grounds for indoctrinating the Muslims in religious intolerance and communal hatred towards the Pandits and towards India. 

Even political platforms were used openly not only by leaders of fundamentalist parties but also by people of the State representing the so-called secular national parties for preaching Islamic fundamentalism, communal prejudice and secession. Private and State institutions were rife with anti-national and communal elements and they received encouragement and incentives from the government.




Terrorists' propaganda.


This systematic and planned indoctrination of the majority community had its direct repurcussions on the minority community in the valley. They became the easy targets of urchins, hooligans and other anti-social elements. They were abused and manhandled even during sporting events between India and Pakistan, be it hockey, cricket, Asiad or Olympics, irrespective of the outcome of the games. During the celebration of national days like the Independence Day and the Republic Day, the Kashmiri Pandits used to be the targets for assault and humiliation. Events in neighbouring Pakistan, be it the hanging of Mr. Bhutto or the air-crash involving Gen. Zia-Ul-Haq, had a direct bearing on the cathartic rage against Kashmiri Hindus. Even happenings in remote areas of the Middle-East like the Arab-Israeli was and the burning of Al-aqsa mosque had a fall out on the Pandits in the valley who were targetted by Muslim fundamentalists. In fact they were blamed for all the ills ailing the society, for all the corruption and nepotism indulged into by the Muslim rulers of the State, themselves. They had become the whipping boys of the administration and of the majority community in the valley. 

Disinformation

The community, as it was faced with bottlenecks in opportunities and in jobs in the State started looking for avenues in the Central government institutions in the State where admissions and recruitments were generally guided by merit or by competitive tests. It managed to register better representation in these sectors by virtue of merit and performance, which became an eye-sore for the Muslims. Their spokesmen never failed to remind the Central government to create openings specially for the Muslim candidates; and politicians of all parties indulged in a compaign of disinformation alleging that the Kashmiri Pandits had usurped nearly all places in the Central government institutions. 

In fact, the Hindus never had more than nine percent representation in these jobs, yet some self-styled human rights agencies in the country and politicians joined this chorus of disinformation and advanced this pretext as a major cause for disenchantment of Kashmiri Muslim Youth with India.

Writing on the wall

The Hindus of the valley saw the writing on the wall all through these years. But they reposed a blind faith in the Kashmiri Muslims and the respective Central governments to whom they handed over their destinities under a sacred trust. They stuck to their belief in the 'Sufi-Rishi' tradition of Kashmir which had in fact been the result of accomodation and tolerance of the Hindus to the invasion of foreign influences in the social mileu in the valley. 

Alas! The Muslims did not reciprocate these sentiments. In the greatest betrayal in history, they went ahead with a relentless and remorseless elimination of the Hindus from all spheres of activity and influence. Digging at the very roots that had nurtured them for centuries, Muslims in the valley indulged in an all out effort to finish their Hindu counterparts. Armed military and terrorism was the culmination of this process of ethnic cleansing which started in the year 1947. 

Rise of Armed terrorism

Armed militancy and terrorism has surfaced in the valley from the year 1988-89 on a large scale with the connivance and support of Pakistan. Muslim youth of the valley have been crossing the border in large numbers since 1984 and returning with sophisticated arms and ammunition after receiving training in sabotage and warfare. Their design has been to subvert democracy and secularism, establish an Islamic theocratic State and to secede from India. As a first step the minority Hindus of the valley became the first victims of this operation and they were gunned down indiscriminately, hanged or murdered by other brutal means. Torture, molestation and rape, threatening letters and telephone calls, posters and quit-notices pasted on doors and warnings through newspapers for the whole community to leave the valley within short and specified time, became the order of the day leading to a mass exodus of this community. More than a thousand members of this community have been done to death, and nearly three hundred thousand forced into exile.

While the exodus of the minority Hindu community on all occassions prior to 1947 were at the behest of and because of the tyrannics of despotic rulers swayed by fits of communal frenzy, the present exodus of 1989-90 is unparalleled in the history of world democracies. This time a large segment of a community has taken up arms with the aim of subverting secularism, mortgaging religious pluralism, decimating a Hindu minority and forcing its exodus in order to establish an Islamic State with the final aim of seceding from its parent country. This has happened in the largest democracy, that is India, and the minority Hindu community has been the helpless victim of a terrorism sponsored by the majority community of the valley with the connivance and support of the State administration and overlooked by successive Central governments.

Sleeping conscience of the country

Inspite of the terrorists taking to armed insurgency and subversion and unleashing unbridled violence against the Hindus, the State administration and the Central Government have indulged in hushing up the genocide of the community. At the moment when the members of the community are perishing in miserable camps in exile, Kashmiri Pandits are being treated as the sacrificial lambs at the altar of Indian secularism. Except for a few, all the major political parties, important leaders, politicians, intellectuals of the country and religious heads of other communities have maintained a deliberate and sinister silence over the human rights' violations and 'genocide' of this community. 

Adding salt to injury

TheGovernment of India has been indulging in double talk. At a time when it claims to be finding ways and means of an 'honourable' return of the refugees to their own homes in the valley, it has hastened the process of Islamization of the administration by recruitment of Muslims, in violation of all norms and procedures, to the posts vacated in the State and Central government offices by the exiled employees. It has also not made any attempt to stop the plunder and arson of the properties left behind by the Hindus. Nearly all the houses left behind by the exiled Hindus have been looted and vandalized. More than six thousand have been torched so far and the process of destruction is continuing unabated. At present, the valley of Kashmir has turned into a purely Islamic enclave in a secular-democratic India, ruled by gun-totting terrorists but guarded at the frontiers by Indian security forces at an exorbitant price. 

Exile

The Kashmiri Hindus are now in their fourlh year of exile. (Editor's note: 12th year currently). Called as "migrants" by the admintration, in fact they are refugees in their own country due to the total failure of the Indian State to provide security and safety to them when they were ruthlessly persecuted, threatened, tortured and murdered by the terrorists.



One of the refugee camps at Jammu.

A distinct ethno-religious community, which is ancient and aboriginal to the valley of Kashmir, is not only facing dispersal and disintegration but total extinction. It is languishing in the camps which are not worth habitation even of animals. They are at the mercy of elements and are repeatedly being swept by rains blown away by winds and scorched by the Sun. They are also at the mercy of the cruel, corrupt and prejudiced administration with which they have to fight for pittances of relief that is distributed and disbursed under ever changing, intricate, cumbersome and stringent rules and regulations.

The whole process is painful, protracted and humiliating and worse than begging. Indifference and hatred, adhocism and procrastination rule the roost and expose the design of the administration to humiliate and hurt this proud community. In fact, the administration that rules the community even in its exile is but an extension and perpetuation of the same set-up that had shaped its tragic destiny while it was in the valley. The whole scenario smacks of a deliberate, wilful and cruel conspiracy to disperse and destroy the peace-loving Kashmiri Pandits. 

Apartheid

The situation for the Kashmiri Pandits has reached such a pass that they have become the victims of the worst apartheid in their own country - India, which has been in the vanguard of the battle against apartheid. Even the white minority regime of South Africa would take comfort looking at the treatment given to the exiles from the valley as they face apartheid in social, educational, legal and bureaucratic institutions of the State. 

Far from lending a healing touch to this wounded community, it is being treated like a pariah as it has been segregated in schools, colleges and other institutions and made to accept subhuman living conditions. The schools for the children of the community have been housed in tents which get blown over with the strong breeze, which leak even during a drizzle, where heat strokes and related problems are galore during summer. Our daughters in these camp schools are exposed to the greedy eyes of the lechers. The school drop-out rate is on an alarming increase. University admissions have been denied to the youth and their academic career has remained frozen for four years. The examinations for all levels are still being conducted for the exiles in Jammu and other towns by the Kashmir University from the valley. The examination process has become more and more prolonged, halting and painful as the date-sheets go on changing at the whim of the University authorities. Some examinations which were due for months and even a year have yet to be conducted. Similarly, the results are not declared for months. The youth feel helpless, frustrated and depressed. 

The employees amongst the exiles are idling. They have not been adjusted against any posts. The professionals are rotting, the farmers of the community are withering away in the tents. The trader community has been deprived of all avenues and has no avenues to start even petty business anywhere in the State outside the valley. There have been no recruitments from the community to the State government services whereas thousands of vacancies have been created for and filled up by the Muslims. The community thus faces a terrible doom as a result of this monstrous conspiracy between the terrorists who drove it out of its habitat in the valley and the adrninistration which rules it in exile, to ensure that it does not get any foot-hold anywhere. 

Betrayal

The community feel disillusioned and betrayed. It has been betrayed by the Muslims of the valley on whom it reposed implicit faith. While the members of the community were being threatened to leave the valley and harassed, humiliated, butchered and gunned down, the Hindus still believed that the moderate and saner voices amongst the Muslims would speak up. Alas! these voices of moderation, these counsels of wisdom, these brave words of co- existence and denunciation of violence against an innocent and defenseless minority never found expression and the general masses became a direct or indirect party to the mayhem that was let loose on the Hindus by armed zealots. 

The community feels betrayed by the State administration which abdicated all its moral, legal and constitutional responsibility of coming to its rescue in the valley or in exile. On the contrary, it only perpetuated a process of annihilation. 

The community has been ditched by the Central Government which always shut its eyes to its travails during the four decades of accession and which has now almost disowned the only nationalistic and secular people in the valley who have been driven into exile. Infact, the Central Govcrnment has helped boost and complete the task of Muslimization of the valley by opening floodgates of recruitment to the Muslims in the Central Government institutions in the valley.

Survival

The Hindu has become a refugee in his own country where he gets a shabby treatment worse than what India has given to the refugees from Tibet, Burma, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan etc. He is being discriminated even vis- a- vis the handful of Muslim refugees from the valley - mostly political bigwigs of discredited parties who have been housed in spatial and furnished lodgings; who are neither to get registered as refugees nor to stand in queues for relief or rations in burning Sun, nor to run from pillar to post to prove tbeir bonafides as displaced, nor to wait for release of the ameneties. On the contrary cash relief and other facilities are given to them in advance for months together. 

It is a savage battle that the community is fighting for shelter, livelihood, education, health care, employment and above all for its survival. It is heading towards unmitigated disaster as the deprivation, sun and humiliation have wreaked havoc on the physical, psychological and mental well-being-of the community and taken a huge toll of its members. The community continues to perish while the nation looks on unconcerned. More lives have been lost due to starvation, malnutrition, disease and accidents than due to terrorists' bullets. The community is facing dispersal and extinction. And before it is too late it may be forgotten that Kashmir valley belonged to the Kashmiri Hindus. The displaced yearn to return to their homes and hearths, to till their own land, pursue their own professional calling and visit their gods and temples; but all doors are closed to them. The jobs have been usurped, the houses burnt down or looted, the lands mutilated and encroached upon or annexed, the temples desecrated. And the erstwhile Muslim friends have already thrown them out of the valley and do not want them back. The community is at a loss to pick the loose ends of the tangle and to free itself from tbe web in which it finds itself enmeshed. It is hard pressed to preserve its religious and ethnic identity and maintain its glorious cultural traditions. It is at pains to uphold the principles of secularism, social justice, freedom of faith, democratic pluralism and nationalism-the very principles at the altar of which it was sacrificed in the valley and driven into exile. 

Homeland

The community thus stands at cross roads. The question is of survival or death. The stark reality has dawned upon the community for the first time that it has to stand on its own and out of the shambles in which it finds itself, to recreate and rebuild its glorious ideals and to fight for an honourable survival. The members of the community, of all shades of opinion and of all professions, gave their unanimous approval to the Homeland Resolution adopted by "Panun Kashmir" in the 'MARGA DARSHAN' convention in December, 1991. It is for the first time that the urges and aspirations of the community materialized in the form of a political demand. The call for a Homeland, therefore, underlines the inevitable desire and will of the community to regain its status and lost honour and to find its identity again in the land which it has inhabited from times immemorial despite persecution and massacre and despite repeated exodus. The call for Homeland becomes mandatory for the community as it refuses to return to an atmosphere of discrimination, suppression and persecution at the hands of Muslimized state apparatus which it has been facing for the last four decades and to an atmosphere of siege, terror and murderous assault at the hands of gun wielding religious fanatics who hold the sway in the valley now. 

The community wants to live in peace and in ambience of amity and brotherhood. It will fight for its rightful participation in any negotiations, decisions or changes that may affect the constitutional and political organisation of the State. It is determined to fight to the finish for its inalienable rights in its own land. 

What is Homeland?

Homeland is a place, a region or a country which is native to a people and where the people or the community is essentially indigenous. It is an area which naturally belongs to them by virtue of birth, habitation and evolution over a long period of time spanning centuries and millennia. The longer a community has made a place its abode and the wider and deeper it takes roots, the stronger are its bonds and commitments to that place and the greater is the resolve to retain it and preserve its integrity. Over a period of generations, the community builds physical, emotional and spiritual relationship with that region. Just as a home gives a sense of belonging to an individual so a Homeland generates a feeling of roots, a sense of identity and an umbrella of security to its people. The two are inseparable and the rebtionship is sanctified by the sacrifices of the people, affirmed by history and hallowed by time. 

What area do we claim for the Homeland and why?

A Homeland cannot be thought out of context of the land that belongs to the community. So the Homeland for the displaced Kashmiris will have to be conceived in the valley itself. 

We have asked for the area North and East of the River Jehlum. The valley has to be divided in acceptance of our claim. River Jehlum provides a natural geographial divide and, therefore, shall represent a line of demarcation between the Homeland and the rest of the valley. The southern region of the State to the North and East of the Jehlum with the National Highway passing through it also happens to be the region with most of our holy shrines including the holiest of the holy, Sri Amarnath. Logistically and demographically, this area is most suitable for conversion into the Homeland with a Union Territory status. 

Why a separate portion as Homeland when whole of the valley belongs to us ?

Yes, infact the whole valley is the Homeland for the Hindu Community who are the original people and can be traced through the annals of history in the valley. At heart, each and every member of the community would desire the conditions to normalise in the valley and become congenial and conducive for his return to his original place of abode and settle down to a harmonious relationship of amity, friendship and tolerance with his Muslim compatriots. Yet, we must face the facts and be brutally frank. We cannot ignore the ground realities and the compulsions of recent events that have now got superimposed on the forty five years of grand Islamization of Kashmir. What prevails today is the new culture, a cult of violence for achieving an Islamic State and for its secession from India. In the new power equation, the old order, on paper looking secular but in practice discriminative, majoritarian, fundamentalist and Islamic, has yielded to a new order openly, avowedly and blatantly militant, communal, intolerant, hate- ridden and revengeful. The Government of India has kept its door open for a dialogue with harbingers of this order and is ready to concede greater autonomy tantamount to granting an Islamic State of Kashmir in a secular India. What is the place for a Hindu in this new set up? The new power brokers, amongst the numerous terrorist outfits operating in the valley, certainly have one thing in common, that is to run the State on the principles of Islamic law, and to secede from the Indian Republic. Under the Islamic law the non-muslims shall have to be satisfied with a second class citizen- ship and under the rules of 'shariat' to shoulder the burden of taxes ('Jazia') and face disenfranchisement. A small minority will be hard pressed to resist the inducements, temptations and pressures to join the Islamic bandwagon and convert itself to Islam. Already there are linguistic and cultural inroads by Islamic hegemony in the day-to-day Hindu cultural and religious practices and their conversational nuances, which were distinct from Muslims. Under the new setup their identity will slowly get defaced and lost under the weight of medievalism and obscurantism towards which the armed fundamentalists are surely and inexorably leading the valley. Besides, what guarantees will the minority community have to their life and property when the community is scattered and resettled in small settlements here and there as it was before exodus. It was because of such demographic disadvantages that the community had no representation in the legislature or Parliament and it could not offer a joint resistance to the depredations of the terrorists against the community. 

If the present setup, as it existed before 1989, was so inimical, damaging and discouraging for the healthy survival of the Pandit, how can we ever expect him to survive in the changed circumstances, when the new forces that have been unleashed will hold complete sway after the total eclipse and demise of the traditional politics, of whatever worth that existed in the State. Can this forward looking, modernistic, secular and democratic community ever be allowed to live, let alone thrive,when preparations are afoot to resurrect the discredited politicians of the past who brought Kashmir and the Hindu of the valley to such a sorry pass and who were also instrumental in bringing into power indoctrinated, armed youth and their patrons who take orders from the theoeratic State of Pakistan and derive impetus and sustenance from that country? If one can read the mind of the mandarins in the power corridors of the Central Government in Delhi and others who matter, moves are afoot to grant almost everything under the Sun to the State of Jammu and Kashmir in order to mollify the militants and bring them to the negotiating table. Short of secession or total independence, the Central Government is ready to give "Azadi" (Independence) to the State within the constitutional frame-work, whatever it means. 

The fact remains that the Central Govt. has withdrawn most of the staff from its offices in the valley and replaced it with Muslim aspirants while the State Government institutions have already filled up the vacancies created by the exodus of the Hindu employees. Having retracted from civil institutions, all that remain of India in the valley are the army and paramilitary forces. Infact, the Centre has already granted an Islamic State in the valley. Funher autonomy through political process will only be putting the stamp of approval for a theocratic State within India. What are the guarantees for a Hindu ? Where does he go ? Where are his house estates and jobs ? How does he face the institutionalized indoctrination of hate and intolerance towards him ? How does he work towards winning the sympathy of the moderate Muslim who was always his hope and his pillar of strength but who now has been silenced, subdued and coerced into submission to the militants' point-of-view and tows their religious and political ideology? How does he, with his limited resources and numbers, counter the disinformation by militants and their spokesmen in the length and breadth of the country who, like Goebells, have been repeating lies after lies about Hindus having grabbed all jobs in the State? Event the Central Government goes by the advice of Muslim leaders of the State - discredited politicians who swear by the Constitution of India but work towards its erosion and breach, who have left nobody in doubt about their sympathies with the cause of the terrorists and their methods and who are infact pressurising the Government of India to spell out the quantum of autonomy for the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Some amongst them including two Ex- Chief Ministers of the State have now come out openly and sided with the militants' demand for self-determination. The Kashmiri Hindu is at pains to explain the futility of relying on these discredited politicians who have become irrelevant in the valley and whose bonafides and credentials as secular Indians are suspect. By seeking their counsel and trusting them and at the same time ignoring, marginalizing and discrediting the Kashmiri Hindus who have borne the cross of Indian secularism for the last four decades, the State administration and the Central Government are comitting the greatest blunder and compounding the tragedy of the valley. The Kashmiri Hindu factor cannot be excluded in the ultimate solution of the tangle. In fact, he has a major role to play in the restoration of Indian hold and claim on Kashmir because with his exit from the valley the Indian Government has given the impression that it is not interested in protecting the rights of its patriotic citizens but in retaining only the territory. The Kashmiri Hindu has a pivotal role in the final solution and if he is neglected, the Government of India will be making a mockery of its avowals of 'unity in diversity' and its claim of protecting the rights and freedom of all its citizens and not of the Muslims alone. 

All these problems beset and baffle the mind of the exiled Hindu and he finds himself up against a blank wall, nay a Himalaya of ignorance and obstinacy, an ocean of follies. What faces him is the stark reality of forty five years of naked persecution followed by the onslaught of unbridled terrorism. So the community is constrained to make the only genuine, realistic and positive demand, staking its claim for its inalienable right in the valley, in essence, now a portion of the valley where it can go back and live a secular, democratic citizen of the Indian Republic. This will be an area with a Union Teritory Status, where the Indian Republic can still look for the "ray of hope" which the father of the nation once talked about, where the secular democratic expriment that failed in the valley, can again be put to test with guarantees of success since it will be conducted by the true votaries of this faith. 

In fact, the Government of India once toyed with the idea of providing a Security Zone in the valley for the exiled Hindus. Whetber it meant a cluster of contiguous villages and towns which could be provided security and which would be considered in the backdrop of demographic, economic and security logistics, was never spelled out. Infact it could have paved the way for granting Homeland to the exiles. What we are asking is to concretize this idea and give a proper shape to a Homeland for the displaced Kashmiris. 

What claim does the exiled community have for a Homeland ?

If I die in exile
think this of me
that there is a corner
out there in Kashmir
that was for ever my abode,
where my soul will come to rest.
- Dr. K.L. Choudhary
The Kashmiri Hindu is the original inhabitant of the valley of Kashmir ever since the birth of the valley by divine intervention when Kashypa Rishi materialized it from a huge lake. He has a history of more than five thousand years of continuous habibtion. Raj Tarangni, to be highlighted the first historical record of ancient India, was written by a Kashmiri Pandit Kalhana, and is a lucid account of the Hindu Kings and the establishment of rich cultural traditions in the valley. The ruins of the to be highlighted 'Martand' and other temples like Parihaspura at Pattan, Narannag at Kangan and the excavations at Burzhoma in the outskirts of the city of Srinagar speak of the architectural attainments as much as of the religious beliefs and practices of tbe ancient Kashmir. History, Art, Architechre, Mathematics, Astronomy, Theology Philosophy, Poetry and Aesthetics emanated from our ancestors. Kashmir during the days of yore was the centre of learning and the seat of a great University at Bijbehara near Anantnag to which scholars thronged from all parts of the world for knowledge and learning and for the study of Sanskrit, Literature, Philosophy etc. Lawrence in 1899 wrote, "the valley of Kashmir is the holy land of Hindus and I have hardly been in any village which does not show some relic of antiquity". 

Modern Kashmir owes a lot, for its rich cultural heritage, its language, literature and arts, its very 'Kashmiriat', to the Hindu who laid the foundation for the same and consolidated it as other cultures mingled with it down the centuries. He gave Shaivism to the world in its explicit and practical form. Now reduced to a minority, he is the inheritor of this distinct and glorious cultural, ethnic and religious background which though having so much in common with rest of the Hindu tradition of India is yet so distinct. It is his duty to preserve this distinct heritage, to secure his own roots, to assen his identity and to claim his rights and freedom- religious, political and social. He is peace loving and tolerant. He has not taken up arms to counter terrorist violence. He has suffered silently because he was a minority at the mercy of a brute majority. But Minority Rights are now acknowledged everywhere in the civilized world. The UN Secretary General in his June1992 blue-print about the role envisaged for UN makes a proposal for an International Convention defining inalienable minority rights and a declaration to this effect to be placed before the UN General Assembly. India, the motherland of Kashmiri Hindus, has to recognise this right of Kashmiri Pandits, First and foremost. It has to grant him his rightful claim and share in the Homeland. lt is a test case for India, for the very survival of its unity in diversity, to provide safeguards to each community and uphold the rights and the just aspirations of every ethnic and religious minority. And, India will have to prove to its own people and to the world community that it is determined to safeguard and preserve the aspirations and the rights and privileges of the Kashmiri Hindus. While, on the one hand, the Indian Govemment is ready to concede every demand of the terrorists and Islamic Zealots in Kashmir short of total secession, it will have to save its own face by granting a 'Homeland' to its secular, peace-loving citizens of the valley who sacrificed themselves at the altar of secularism and nationalism. 

The year 1993 all over the world is being celebrated as the year of 'indigenous people'. Kashmiri Pandits are the indigenous people of Kashmir with the continuity of a distinct ethno-religious tradition of more than five thousand years. Therefore, the world shall have to grant them their inalienable rights to exist in their Homeland with security of life, political liberty, freedom of thought and expression and in dignity and pride. 

What are the overall implictions of granting the Homeland ?

Morally, it will be an acknowledgement of the inalienable fights of Kashmiri minority Hindu community to its own land in its own habitat, to grant them a Homeland. In broader context it may be the only lasting solution to the complex Kashmir embroglio not only to grant a Homeland to the Hindus and minorities of the valley but also to recognize the sensitivities and propensities of other regional and ethnic groups of the heterogenous State of Jammu and Kashmir.

The debate about granting of greater autonomy to the State of Jammu and Kashmir has gathered momentum since the rise of militancy in the valley. The Muslim leaders of the State, of all shades of political opinion, are working overtime and in tandem with their many sympathizers in the rest of the country to convince the Central Government about the genuineness and correctness of this step. They are aiming at exacting the maximum concessions from the country when they talk of the quantum of autonomy. There is also a flurry of behind-the-scene activity at the Centre to persuade the terrorist outfits to come forward for a dialogue. Unfortunately, the real import and meaning of granting greater autonomy to the State is lost to the powers that be in the Central Government, which is to surrender the State on a platter to the Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists as a price for retaining Jammu and Kashmir on the map of India. It is one more step towards strengthening the secessionist forces and therefore towards the final severance of the State from the Union of India. This step may buy illusory peace to the rest of the country but it certainly buys time for the terrorists to consolidate and prepare for the final onslaught for secession. 

In the meanwhile, the rights of other religious, ethnic and geographical entities of the State are being jeopardized and trampled upon, preparing the ground for ferment in all patts of the State involving all communities. The Jammuites have long harboured-a feeling of rejection and deprivation at the hands of Muslims of the valley who managed to keep the reins of power in their hands since 1947. They have been deprived of their share of power and development and neglected in all fronts. There is an under-current of simmering dissent and anger. Demands for autonomous Regional Council for Jammu have been floated repeatedly. The Ladakhis have also been fighting for a Union Territory status to esape discrimination at the hands of Muslim rulers of the State. Infact, the Central Government had almost granted a Hill council for Ladakhis but it was stalled at the last moment at the intervention of a Muslim ex-MP from the valley. However, the Central Government is cornmitted to granting a Darjeeling type Hill council for Ladakhis. 

In view of the foregoing arguments many senior leaders of the State and some others at the Centre hve proposed a trifurcation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to solve the tangle. However, a trifurcation does not solve the problem of displaced Kashmiri Pandits who are refugees in Jammu and other towns of the country for the last three years. They are guests at these places, guests that have stayed rather long. They desire to go back to the valley but are unwelcome there. Infact they had to leave on pain of death and the people of the valley in general and the terrorists in particular have threatened to execute them if they return to their homes. Therefore, granting them a Homeland with a Union Territoty status inside the valley is the only lasting and permanent solution to the Kashmir problem. If a Hill council can be granted to about 60,000 Ladakhi Budhists why not a Homeland for seven hundred thousand Kashmiri Hindus ? Therefore, a quadri-partition and not a trifurcation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir is in order, to accomodate the rights, the urges and aspirations of all regions and all religious and ethnic groups. 

What will be the socio-political set up in the Homeland?

Essentially the Homeland will contribute to the aims a ideals of democracy, secularism, free exchange of thought, trade and culture, right to work and right to live, justice and equality for all, including women. It will not be a theocracy. It will identify with the letter and spirit of the Constitution of India and exist in amity and brotherhood with all the regions and provinces of the State of Jammu and Kashmir and with the rest of India. 

How does call for a Homeland serve the national interest and prevent the balkanisation of the country ?

It is in the best interest of the country for us to fight for a Homeland. Infact, it will be anti-national for us to keep quiet about the loss of our territorial rights in the Valley of Kashmir and the loss of our homes and hearths, lands, estates and jobs. If we don't raise our voice against what has been snatched away from us; if we keep quiet about the valley of Kashmir which has been allowed to degenerate into a theocratic Islamic enclave inside the secular Indian Republic; if we shut our eyes to the existence of this Islamic State being defended and guarded on the frontiers by the Indian forces and being run by the writ of the militants under the laws of "Shariat" now being enacted in full vigour and gusto; we will have done the greatest dis-service to India for losing our Homeland to communalists. The Indian nation will never be forgiven for the total failure of its secular-democratic experiment in the testing ground of the valley. Even Jawaharlal Nehru, the greatest champion and architect of secularism, had his doubts about the success of this experiment when he wrote on 26th July, 1962 to Shri P.N.Bazaz, "the real problem in Kashmir is whether it continues as a secular State as the rest of India or not. This affects the whole India because secularism in India also has not got such a firm foundation as I would like it to have. Anything happening in Kashmir will undoubtedly affect the rest of India with its vast Muslim pupulatiun". 

Kashmir is integral to India as it has been a part of its geographical, political and cultural mainstream for centuries. It has its own geopolitical importance as it stands at the cross roads of various cultures and religious, political and geographical entities. It is the meeting ground between Central Asia, China, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Afghanistan. It has to serve as the bulwark against the pan-Islamic expansion from across Pakistan. Iran and Afghanistan - an Indian phalanx to counter the encroaching Islamic thrust from Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan trying to cut across the Indian plains to join on the eastern front with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Malaysia, etc. It is the only way to prevent balkanization of the country by retaining as much area as possible in the valley under a secular and democratic hold of the country and allowing the committed secularists and nationalists to settle down in their own land. What we are seeking, therefore, is a full accession of at least this portion of the valley with the rest of India 

There is tremendous pressure on the Central and State Governments for the formation of smaller States in recognition of the urges and aspirations of the people, for preservation of their regional identities and for safeguarding their rights and interests. Negotiations are going on with people from Bodoland, Jharkhand, Gorkhaland etc. These people have not faced the persecution and communal discrimination, neither have they been the victims of murderous assaults by armed fundamentalist-terrorists, nor been forced into exile from their own home state. Yet the Central Government is prepared to discuss their demands and grant the same in some measure. The displaced Kashmiri Hindus are placed in a worse plight. They are not only threatened with denial, discrimination, suppression and persecution but are facing a total loss of their identity. They have been uprooted, brutally murdered and banished from their own soil. Their claim for their own land and for a full accession of this portion with the rest of India is most genuine and rightful. If the Government of India is ready to concede some form of autonomy to the State, which indirectly means conceding an Islamic State, it will be in the interest of the country to at least have a portion of the valley loyal to the country and which rightfully belongs to secular democratic Kashmiris, as their Homeland. It will be a free democratic secular island within or by the side of the Islamic valley, having an extension of the constitution of India in its full play. 

A Homeland for the seven hundred thousand displaced Kashmiris in the valley will be the only logical, natural and permanent solution for the displaced Kashmiris. Homeland is where home is and home is where land is and our land is in the valley of Kashmir. Our demand for a Homeland within the valley, from where we have been driven out by armed Islamic terrorists, is an assertion of our rights as much as of our patriotism for India. In order to save Kashmir from the clutches of Pakistan which has been instigating, encouraging and perpetuating terrorism in Kashmir, the Indian nation has to shed all inhibitions and unequivocally declare its resolve of resettling tbe displaced Kashmiri Hindus in the Homeland which will serve as a bastion of secularism and democracy in an otherwise Islamic State. 

Are we internationalizing the Kashmir issue by raising a call for a Homeland for the displaced Kashmiris and by appealing to the community of nations?

Our appeal to the international community is to open their eyes to the human rights' violation and genocide against Hindus in Kashmir by Muslim fundamentalists turned terrorists. We are infact doing what the Government of India should have done to inform and educate the world through the media, through its embassies in other countries, through debates and through meetings with world leaders. There is so much disinformation being carried out against the Kashmiri Hindus. Considerable disinformation is also going on against the so called atrocities committed by the Indian security forces in dealing with the terrorists and their harbourers and so little is being said about the barbaric treatment coupled with brutalities against the Hindus of the valley who have been tortured, gunned down and exiled. It is our duty to create awareness in the world about the true nature of the movement in the valley - a movement which is essentially one of secession from India, a 'Jehad' (religious war) spearheaded by indoctrinated youth for the establishment of a Muslim theocratic State and not a war of independence. It is an Islamic Jehad, an anti Hindu, anti Indian crusade carried out by the terrorist outfits in the valley which number more than two hundred and compete to outbid each other in the pursuit of a common goal. 

We are trying to tell the world and the Human Rights Organisations, the United Nations and other such bodies which monitor human rights violations, that it is the Kashmiri Hindu against whom the religious war started and is now being fought to the finish. After having thrown him out of his natural habitat, the terrorists are now vandalizing, destroying and torching the property worth hundreds of crores left behind and appropriating his lands and estates. 

We also try to remind the Government of India of its flawed policies towards the State where it is still pampering the terrorists in order to win their hearts, where it is more worried about the living conditions of terrorist detenues in jails than those of the Kashmiri Hindu victims languishing in refugee camps.

We are appealing to free and peace loving communities of the world against the Pak-sponsored terrorism in the valley which has turned this heaven into a veritable hell and thus, only trying to strengthen the hands of the Government of India. 

When we give a call for a Homeland we are only reinforcing the Indian claim to Kashmir which has been the crown of India ever since Vedic times and the cradle of civilization of which we, the Hindus of Kashmir, are the true heirs, defenders and inheritors. We are the true guardians of this Indian outpost of secularism and democracy and we serve as a bulwark against the march of Pan- Islamic hegemony from across the Hindukush, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central Asia and Iran. 

What about settlement outside the valley in the State or outside the State of Jammu & Kashmir?

There are some people who have proposed quasi- permanent settlement outside the valley. There is no doubt that the displaced Kashmiris from the valley are the state-subjects of whole of Jammu and Kashmir and therefore, free to choose any place in the State to live like free citizens with equal opportunities. However, the hard realities betray an inherent opposition from local populations to such a settlement in the major towns outside the valley and even in remote villages. There is already a population explosion in Jammu and we face anger and resentment even to our refugee status in Jammu and neighbouring places. There has been fierce opposition to settle the employed community in the jobs or to the provision of admissions in the educational institutions for our children. There have been negligible adjustments, transfers and promotions and hardly any new recruitments to jobs in the State Government. Now some bellicose groups have been agitating in Jammu for the ouster of the displaced community and for stoppage of all relief. It is nothing short of seeking the total ruin and death of the community. 

Attempts to rehabilitate this community in peripheral towns like Rajouri, Poonch, Kishtwar etc. would mean living again in insecurity and within the constraints of these outlying areas where the opportunities for growth and development of immigrants are meagre or non-existent. It is worth mcntioning here that those of our ancestors who fled the tyrannies of Muslim rulers hundreds of years ago and lived in the jungles of Kishtwar and neighbouring regions, have remained backward down the ages. The benefits of independenece that percolated into the farthest corners of the valley never reached these refugees of yore even remotely and they still continue to either till barren strips of land or take up petty jobs of domestic servants, bakers, cooks or orderlies. Freedom has yet to dawn and the loaves and fishes of democracy have yet to be distributed to these people who were driven out like us centuries ago. The forward looking displaced Kashmiris cannot now accept such a situation or status. Yes, we are guests in the Jammu province by our own right but we will have to seek all avenues of repatriation back to the valley into our Homeland. Accepting a quasi- permanent senttement outside the valley is tantamount to surrendering our rights in the valley. 

Quasi-permanent or permanent settlement outside the State is again an anachronism. If we are not welcome in a different region of our own State, how can we expect any other State to accomodate us. What with population problems and resource crunch everywhere and with regional and chauvinistic forces raising their head everywhere? It will be unwise to seek shelter and settlement in any other State. We will not be treated even as second class citizens. There is no doubt that India is a free country with a constitution which provides guarantees of life, work, property and freedom of expression and of religious faith everywhere and does not stop us from buying land and making a living and seeking a job anywhere. In individual capacity some of our displaced members have sought such settlement, in the process getting scattered and dispersed. That will be the beginning of the end for the community. It may give a few of us, more fortunately placed, a chance to exist as individuals but shall take away our last chance to remain as a viable, healthy and dynamic community which has the power to offer leadership to the country. If we want to survive both as individuals and as a community and preserve our centuries oId tradition and culture, we shall have to fight for our own share in the valley, otherwise we will incur the curse of our progeny. 

Is Homeland slogan in any way against the interests of the community?

Infact, the community has never nurtured a political insight nor given vent to its political aspirations ever since it was subjected to persecution down the centuries of Muslim rule. It always lived on a fringe. It was always secondary and peripheral in any political, social and economic reconstruction, whenever there was one. The community only lesrnt to accumodate, acquiesce a just subsist. It always lived from day to day. Therefore, the vision of a Homeland is something difficult to believe and assimilate. 'Offer a feast to a hungry man and suddenly he loses appetite' . He would rather accept crumbs and bits and left-overs. The community has to break the shackles that have held it captive to the Muslim majority perceptions for centuries and break loose and think for itself. The vision of a Homeland may appear an impossible dream. But a dream is the first step away from unreal and a step towords reality. We have to shake ourselves from non- being into being and that is only possible when we stand for our rights and not wait for the mercy and pity of the Muslim majority. 

A Home1and is the minimum programme for the survival of the community. There are some amongst us who still delude themselves with the belief that normalcy is going to return to Kashmir and they are going to be able to live in honour and dignity and with equal rights and opportunities to life, and therefore, say that we should not offend the Muslims by asking for our due share in the form of a Homeland. But you can count them on fingers. Most of them are the yes-men or hand-maidens of power brokers and discredited politicians, others are in league with the terrorists and have become tools in their hands and provide them with a mask. We have a couple of thousand Hindus still living in the valley. Most of them are living in fear and under a seige and pay 'protection money'. They are forced to speak the militants' language. - Some of them have converted, if not in name but in practice, to Islam. Others have become spokesmen against the so-called excesses and atrocities by the security forces. All of them serve as show-boys of the terrorists, who often manage to project them in the media to plead that their movement is non-communal, yet in the same breath being votaries of a "Jehad" with the ultimate aim of throwing out India and running the State on the tenets of Holy Quran. They are, thus, already a part of the Islamic crusade. This handful of Hindus who are eking out their time in the valley, infact, are the Hindu pockets of acquiescence and not resistance against the communal frenzy that has engulfed the valley. 

The Kashmiri Hindus have to realize that every quarter is cashing on their disaster. The people in the valley are cashing on the presence of those few thousands whom they have deliberately nurtured to present a false image of communal harmony to the gullible world. The administrative machinery ruling us in exile is trading in our misery. The relief agencies are siphoning off the funds meant for relief and rehabilitation of the displaced people. They have bungled crores of rupees in league with the bankers and middlemen but managed to blame and discredit the beleagured community. Various political parties are deriving political mileage out of our misery. The traders, landlords and other businessmen in the host cities have a different price for their ware for the displaced people than for the locals. How long can we afford to be thus cheated from all quarters unless we have a place of our own, our HOMELAND? 

Our genuine demand for a Homeland does not hurt anybody 's intrests as we have no desire to encroach upon the legitimate rights of others. Infact, there are clear indications that the Muslim majority is irked by our capacity to bear silently the sufferings heaped upon us than by our waking up to our rights. The grant of a Homeland to displaced Kashmiris will be the greatest stumbling block to their design of enforcing their version of poitical and religious dispensation in the whole of the valley and spare this part of the valley from degenerating into a theocratic enclave. 

What if the terrorist outfits operating in the Valley give a call asking the exiles to return to the valley?

Various militant outfits from time to time have been claiming that their movement is not communal, yet all of them in one voice swear to usher in "Nizam-e-Mustafa"- the Islamic governance. They all take pride in waging "Jehad", the Holy War against the infidels and against all that represents India. They are shouting in unison from mosques and other platforms that their struggle is for the introduction of "Shariat", the Islamic principle of governance and justice. Infact, what one witnesses in Kashmir since 1947, is the sure and certain erosion of the principles of secularism and religious pluralism with its replacement by all for which the militants claim to wage their war. Militancy has only given it a final stamp of approval by the people. 

The exodus of Kashmiri minorities and realisation by the world of the true nature of terrorism in Kashmir, gave a jolt to the secessionists' designs of projecting their movement as one of independence. So they have been deliberating about the desirability or otherwise of giving a call to the exiles to come back and fight "shoulder to shoulder" for their so-called freedom movement. They understand that the exiles who are going through a life and death struggle and are yearning to return to their homes and hearths can easily fall victims to this trap. Many exiles have even remarked that it was better to get killed in the valley than to suffer the trauma of being refugees at the mercy of administrative vultures. Others are ready to accept to live as aliens in their own land under "Nizame-Mustafa" and that is what the handful of Hindus, still living in the valley, have reconciled to. 

It is unfortunate that many of the displaced Kashmiris are waiting for such a call. Such is the distress of living in exile that the people who were butchered and hounded out yet feel that a change of heart could take place in the very people who swore to weed out the Hindus and other secular elements and push India out. Can one trust the very people who have been indoctrinated in hatred from the time they grew up in the lap of religious schools, which taught them Islam the wrong way? How at all can the very people be trusted who stand sworn on pain of death to take orders from their masters, even if it be to kill their own kith and kin? The Kashmri Hindus have already committed the mistake of trusting their Muslim counterparts five times in the past; needless to mention here that this is the sixth time, the Kashmiri Hindus have been driven into exile by the Muslim religious zealots. 

Do we want to wait for a 'welcome' by the terrorists so that we are thrown out once again when it suits their whim or design? Do we want to live again in subservience as second fiddles in perpetual fear and uncertainity? 

It will be appropriate to recall the recent experience of those eighteen displaced families who were prompted to return to the Valley in July, 1992, and draw some lessons from it. These families were promised safe passage to their homes by some unscrupulous politicians in league with some terrorist outfits. However, on reaching the valley there was a clamour in the people and other terrorist groups who prevented them from again moving into their abandoned homes. Instead, they were herded in a temple and subsequently asked to take refuge in the police station where they were kept in suspended animation while their fate was being discussed by the terrorists. Finally it was decreed that they should immediateIy quit or face death. One member of this unfortunate group ventured out of custody and was shot at. These helpless families so eager to settle back in the valley in their homes at the mercy of the terrorists, thus, faced another banishment. It was a cruel joke played upon them. These families surrendered in the most abject manner while making the whole community a laughing stock. 

This certainly was a cunning trick to create a cleavage in the community by trying to encourage the return of a few families under a sinister ploy aimed at lending credibility to terrorists being secular, at the same time discrediting those members of the displaced community who are opposed to the return without guarantees of a Homeland. 

The terrorists who have been blowing hot and cold, whenever it suits them, have laid stringent conditions for the return of Hindu minority to the valley. They want the displaced people to agitate for the release of all terrorist detenus and to fight shoulder to shoulder with them for the secession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir from India and for the enforcement of the Islamic laws. And only after achieving "liberation", will they consider whether the displaced community will be allowed to retum. 

It is high time for tbe exiled community to realise that the call for a Homeland is not just an escapist slogan but a positive assertion of their right to life and liberty. How long can the minority Hindu community live in bondage and at the mercy and whim of the Muslim majority? The nation has to clear the fog in its perceptions about the situation in Kashmir and stop treating Kashmiri Hindus as guinea-pigs at the altar of the so-called secular experiment in Kashmir. The security situation in the valley and the changed socio-political milieu shall aIways endanger the lives of the repatriates except when such repatriation is to a well carved out Homeland. Any possibility of return to the valley, without guarantees of a Homehnd, is not only bewildering in complexity but also fraught with disaster of ultimate annihilation of the displaced community. 

Is Homeland a viable proposition?

We desire the homeland to be a Union territory and it is bound to be viable. We envisage a healthy and harmonious relationship with the rest of the valley and with other regions and States. The Homeland will serve as a phalanx of Indian secularism and democracy in what has otherwise regressed into an Islamic theocracy in the valley. It will have well defined borders, a stable security and will be contiguous with the rest of India physically, emotionally and politically. 

No country nor any state can ever be self-sufficient, and no society or community is complete in itself. What makes a region viable is the determination of its people to exploit the resources, be they natural or human ? We have the manpower and resources to ensure viability. Kashmir has been "Shardapeeth", the seat of learning and knowledge. We can make it so again with the expertise and manpower available to us and can start a full fledged university, medical, engineering and agricultural colleges and institutions of arts and commerce. The level of education can be raised to excellence so that we attract the students and teachers from other States and other countries. Small scale Industries especially in electronics and software are other disciplines where we can hope to make a mark. Tourism has a vast potential. Development of pilgrim centres can be considered on a big scale. Agriculture and handicrafts, sericulture, pisciculture and horticulture all have a vast scope. Besides, there can be a re-orientation and a new look at the priorities for the Homeland. Our aim is excellence in all our endeavours. Our goal is a peaceful and bountiful Homdand, a future model for a great country that India can be. 

What about the displaced Kashmiris settled outside the valley?

We are Indians first and Indians last. The demand for a homeland should not be construed as an expression of ethnic or regional chauvinism but one of survival of a community with a distinct culture. It gives us pride to see our members settled in the rest of the country and contributing their valuable services to the country in various fields. They all harbour a feeling of denial and deprivation and discrimination in the valley because of which they had to leave their Homeland. The grant of a Homeland may not necessarily draw them back to the valley but will not only provide them the necessary moral and psychological courage but also regain for them their lost identity. They will be able to heIp and guide the floundering community even from their respective places of adoption. Many of them will be drawn back to their land of birth. Infact, conditions shall have to be created for a return of all those who are this time going through the trauma and turpitude of finding a ground for habitation elsewhere and all those who have become nomadic in the process of seeking shelter and survival. We have a fund of talent especially in the educational, administrative and scientific fields and we invoke the help and blessings of so many of our compatriots who are manning prestigious positions in the country and who are wedded to the noble cause of a Homeland. 

The Homeland will provide opportunity and incentive for the return of all the Kashmiri Pandits who will difinitely have the legal and moral right of settlement in this part of Kashmir, inspite of them being settled in any other part of the world. 

What about Article 370 and the Homeland ?

Article 370 by providing a special status to the State of Jammu and Kashmir goes against the very spirit of our constitution as it works against the unity in diversity which the constitution swears to provide and strengthen. Rather than bringing the State of Jammu and Kashmir nearer to the main stream of India it has widened the gulf and paved the way for secession as the Article has been used to bolster the argument of those elements who have always questioned the accession of the State to India and who refer to the existence of this Article as an argument in favour of the unsettled status of Jammu and Kashmir. The State has been defending, protecting, enhancing and glorifying the rights of the majority community at the cost of the minority, especially the minority in the valley. While in India the Constitution provides special guarantees and privileges to the minority, in the State the constitution has been contrived in favour of the majority. 

Once the homeland is granted to the displaced Kashmiris the continuance of the article and the special status in the remaining portion of the valley/State does not at all affect us, as we have accepted the Constitution of India in full - undiluted, unadulterated and unalloyed. The Homeland will be a Union Territory and will be governed by the provisions of Indian Constitution and Article 370 will not be applicable in this portion of Kashmir and will have no relevance. 

Why is Homeland so urgent?

The call for a homeland has become not only natutal and necessary but urgent as well. The community has arrived at a water- shed in history. It is now or never that it has to fling the cloak of minority complex under which it fossilized itself into inaction through the centuries. It cannot afford to reverse the facts of history, the fact of total Islamization of Kashmir. It cannot de- communalize the socio-political milieu of the valley in which it has not heen allowed to sustain and survive. It cannot afford to relinquish its claim in the State of Jammu and Kashmir and get dispersed and lost in the teeming population of the countty, so it has to seek the Homeland and seek it now. 

In the present state of exile, the whole community is going through indescribable psychological, mental and physical anguish. The older generation is fast fading away as they are going through the throes of disease and death which has come prematurely for thousands. The middle generation is withering and aging rapidly because of idleness, denial and deprivation. The younger genetation has hecome apathetic, depressed and frustrated because of denial of opportunities for living, denial of admissions into institutions of learning and the apartheid that they face from all quarters. The new generation that takes birth in exile grows up in the most uncongenial and hostile environment. At this rate the cornmunity will not take long to dissipate. With the passage of each day, the community gets impoverished on all fronts and is moving towards extinction. That is why Homeland is most urgent, now. 

We have to remind ourselves that only a Homeland can guarantee us the identity that we are seeking. It is a quirk of history that a great and large nation that is India with eighty percent Hindu population, has no qualms of conscience in keeping silent about Hindus becoming refugees in their own land. This can only happen in India. Only in India does a whole nation accept with impunity the banishment of a small minority from its natural habitat because it happens to be a Hindu minority of a Muslim majority State which is at the mercy of fundamentalists and rank communalists. The Homeland therefore becomes imperative and urgent before more damage is sustained by the community, before the community gets further fragmented, dispersed and disintegrated. 

The Homeland is urgcnt because granting it will set in motion the process of normalization in the State. The first duty of the nation is to resettle the uprooted citizens in their natural habitat. The Government of India has been vaccilating in its policies and priorities in Kashmir. Infact it has no definite policy except one of drift and despair on the one hand and appeasement of the Muslim majority on the other. The most terrible fall out of this policy has been the genocide of the Hindu minority in the valley. If the Central Government realises this fact, it will have taken the first right step towards Kashmir. If it realises that it has to protect the legitimate interests and rights of its patriotic citizens who have been fighting for India in Kashmir, it will be the second step and in the third big leap it has to grant a Homeland to this community. 

Is it a Hindu Homeland that we are seeking?

No, it is not a Hindu Homeland that we are seeking. We fully identify with tbe secular-democratic-pluralism of our country, so how can we ask for a Hindu homeland ? We are seeking a homeland for displaced Kashmiris who have faced suppression for centuries, who have been driven out by tyrants repeatedly in the course of history of monarchies and fiefdoms in the valley and who have been subjected to genocide of unparalleled magnitude in a free and democratic India. These people happen mostly to be Hindus. These were the people who staked themselves at the altar of secularism in Kashmir. They reaped the bitter fruits of being nationalists and secular. They are now unwelcome in their own land of which they are the original inhabitants. They will not be able to live in security, safety and dignity in the altered milieu in the valley which has now become completely Islamized and which has no place for other communities. If they are allowed to disperse and disintegrate it will be a total negation of the secular democratic ideals of India. Any attempt to deny them their rightful share in their place of habitation will have far reaching consequences for the rest of the country and will unleash uncontrollable forces of religious bigotry elsewhere in other States and may lead to exodus of minorities from there. So these displaced Kashmiris from the valley are seeking an honourable settlement in the valley and will welcome all those who contribute to the tenets of secularism, democracy and equality before law. We are not seeking a division of Kashmir into Muslim Kashmir and Hindu Kashmir because an Islamic Kashmir is already a fait accompli. What we are asking is our rightful share from it to convert it into a secular democratic homeland with full accession to India and without fetters of Article 370. 

What is Panun Kashmir and what does it stand for?

Panun Kashmir is an expression of the innermost hopes and urges of the Kashmiris displaced from Kashmir valley, that were suppressed for centuries and lost in the nethermost corner of their subconscious. It is a natural and instinctive desire of the community to seek its roots, to preserve its identity and to assert its political, legal and historical nghts. It provides a nascent political rostrum to translate the idea and vision of an honourable and peaceful existence emanating from a sense of pride and a feeling of self- esteem which has been snatched from this community. 

Panun Kashmir is not just a party or an organization but a people's movement. It is the milky way dotted with the stars of the community who, having come out of eclipse, are ready to become the guiding stars. And as a first step, the community is pledged to behave as a united whole and not just as individuals; as masters of their destiny and not as second fiddles and yes-men; as reformers and not slaves to outlandish customs and rituals; as confedrates and not as plotters against each other; as respectors and appreciators of each others worth and not as critics and cynics. Any body who wants to join this galaxy is welcome and we say unto him, "Come to us when you start feeling the pangs for your land - your Kashmir, rather than for your house, property and job. And we will talk to you about Homeland". 

It is the awareness of your duty as much as of your rights for your homeland that is paramount and no sacrifice will be too great to salvage the honour, dignity and integrity of your community and country. Pious wishes alone will not give you the homeland, you have to be ready for action. Numbers should not daunt us. If we have the conviction of our ideals and aims, we will succeed. And we have to take the path of non-violence; we have to take the pen to fight the sword; we have to educate not only our own community and our country but the whole international community of our rights for the Homeland. 

See you all in "Panun Kashmir"

 

Disclaimer
Web-hosting organization and its employees are not responsible 
for the views/opinions/material expressed on this website.
© 2000-2010 Panun Kashmir. All Rights Reserved

  Copyright Panun Kashmir. 2009-2020

Privacy

Disclaimer

Contact Us