For the Kashmiri Pandits, in admiration of his track record as a social change leader, it was an honor to welcome the Prime Minister of India when he visited USA . I as a member of Kashmir Hindu Foundation, Inc delegation had an honor to meet him and chat with him in Ahmadabad in 2013. A person of his stature and knowledge already comes with a considerable understanding of the ground realities in Kashmir.
After 70 years of being held hostage to an incompetent, spineless government, infected with virus of appeasements and fake secularism, Jammu and Kashmir was finally treated and liberated. Kashmiri Pandits rejoiced all over the world. Many Kashmiri Hindus were elated because of the feeling of revenge towards Kashmiri Muslims who directly or indirectly supported terrorists and militants in hounding Pandits out of their homes.
But now after this initial elation, we as a community need to introspect. Now What? What did we get and will this historical restructuring of Jammu and Kashmir benefit our community? Will it facilitate return of Pandits to their abandoned homes in the valley? And if so how? The PM did a brief photo-op with some NRI Kashmiri Pandits in Houston, Texas at ‘Howdy Modi’ event but he needs to visit and interact with Kashmiri Pandits living in his own backyard in India at Jagti refugee Camp? The camp is housing more than 4,000 Kashmiri Pandit families, still living like refugees in one bedroom concrete quarters. We need the PM and GOI to take concrete effective steps.
Would like to briefly convey some facts that need immediate address.
Background and Article 370
Whatever the biased US and the world media may think, it was not Abrogation of Article 370 but amending some of its provisions for the betterment of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, the three parts of the State of Jammu & Kashmir. Nevertheless not an ordinary feat.
Having lived in Kashmir, we very well know how the brainwashed Kashmiri Muslims hate India and Its leaders. These Kashmiri Muslims from a tiny part of the valley comprising of just five districts of Anantnaag, Baramulla, Sopore, Badgam and Srinagar. No one understands them better than some astute Kashmiri Pandits. Denial & deep mourning is such that even Global Kashmiri Muslims from Srinagar,Dubai to Dallas have gone underground in grief.
This is like a category 5 hurricane for spoilt Kashmiri Muslims,spoilt by past Indian administration for decades. They had a sense of superiority and entitlement that they considered even other Muslims in India as vastly inferior to them. People outside can’t imagine how stupid their egos were? Food was cheap, education till university level was free, loans were theirs for never to return. Income tax was unheard of, water & electricity bills were never paid. They were living an American dream on money being pumped by GOI and if that was not enough they were pampered in all forms like ‘Zamturs’ (son-in-law).
Dogras in Jammu region were meant to suffer for being patriotic. Jammu was made to look like a 19th century village.
Kashmiri Pandit’s – why care for this minuscule minority as if they did not exist. They were airbrushed out much before 1989. It was ‘Nizame Mustafa’ in Kashmir. The process to Islamize the entire region continued with changing the names of historical places like Anantnag town to Islamabad, landmarks like the Shankaracharya Hill to Takht-i-Sulaiman and Hari Parbat to Koh-i-Maran, to name a few.
Gujjar & Bakerwals mostly residing in far flung, hilly mountainous areas near forests were a butt of jokes. They were economically, socially, educationally and politically backward and no one cared about their welfare.
Ladakhis were lucky to be alive under the Kashmiri Sultanate. They lived in utter poverty till later tourism helped them a bit. They had few schools in Leh and were made to go to rest of India for education as educational institutions in Kashmir were Muslim only. Yes under very noses of Indian administration all this discrimination was rife. This emboldened Sultanate further.
Abrogation or amending of Article 370 was long overdue as it needed a Surgical Strike which it got. Article 370 was misused by communal Kashmiri Muslim Sultanate to discriminate against Non Muslims of the state since Sheikh Mohd Abdullah took over as PM of Kashmir. Article 370 was a draconian law used in the most communal way against Kashmiri Pandits Dogras and Ladakhis.
The Next Step
While Kashmir Hindu Foundation, Inc., welcomes amending provisions of Article 370 and thereby allowing unfettered implementation of Indian Constitution to the State of Jammu and Kashmir now two Union Territories, we demand following follow up steps be implemented in a systematic manner.
- 1. We re-iterate that Kashmiri Hindus are the original, indigenous people of the Kashmir valley. As such, they have an inalienable right on Kashmir. We wish to exercise the right to live in Kashmir not on the basis of the goodwill of the Muslims of Kashmir, but as our fundamental right. In any kind of future restructuring, Kashmiri Hindus are looking for a territory in the Kashmir valley where we have ownership of our political and economic destiny within the framework of the Indian constitution.
- 2. We demand declaring all the properties, movable and immovable, sold by the displaced Kashmiri Pandits after 1989-90, as “Distress Sales” and declare sales as null and void and accordingly, restore possession of the properties back to respective Kashmiri Pandits who were recorded owners. Government should also impose a blanket ban on the acquisition of the abandoned properties belonging to Kashmiri Pandits. Unless and until this is done, Kashmiri Pandits have got nothing out of this historical feat and is useless.
- 3. At least 145 known Hindu places of worship have been burnt, vandalized and damaged. We strongly urge the Government of India that our temples and cultural institutions in the valley be secured, preserved and protected.
As stated above now after this initial exhilaration, the PM and GOI need to implement the most important decision of declaring all the properties, movable and immovable, sold by the displaced Kashmiri Pandits after 1989-90, as “Distress Sales” and declare sales as null and void and accordingly, restore possession of the properties back to respective Kashmiri Pandits. If GOI is really serious in rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, this should be the first step.
KHF, Kashmir Hindu Foundation Inc,. is the organization of overseas Kashmiri Hindus. It is a non-profit, non-political, non-religious organization registered in the state of California with offices in major centers across USA and is making efforts for the preservation of our social mores, cultural heritage and language, even as we remain in exile. KHF has been making efforts for last many years influencing policy makers highlighting the plight of Kashmiri Pandit community who were ethnically cleansed to leave their homes and properties in the Kashmir valley.