Dr. Ajay Chrungoo 

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Return Process Only a Grave Refoulement

by Dr. Ajay Chrungoo

The state government notification, for recruitment of displaced Kashmiri Hindus (Kashmiri Migrants) as per the Prime Minister’s package, incorporates a new definition of who is a ‘Migrant’, which  has profound implications. This definition when read together with the ‘agreement’ which the selected candidate has to sign provides a comprehensive picture of the mindset of the state government.

As per the notification ‘Migrant Means A Person’ who “has migrated from Kashmir valley after 1st November, 1989 and is registered as such with the Relief Commissioner or has not been so registered on the ground of his being in service of Government in any moving office, or having left the valley or any other part of the State in pursuit of occupation or vocation or otherwise and is possessed of immovable property at the place from where he has migrated but is unable to ordinarily reside there due to the disturbed conditions and includes an internally displaced person, for the purpose of the clause an internally displaced person means a person who had to migrate within valley from his original place of residence in Kashmir valley for reasons of security and is registered as such with the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner Migrants.”   The state government while starting the recruitment process for the Prime Minister’s package has chosen to modify the definition of the ‘migrant’ which guided the policy of the state government so far.

The new definition for migrants incorporates the following qualification, “…. and includes an internally  displaced person, for the purpose of the clause an internally displaced person means a person who had to migrate within valley from its original residence in Kashmir valley for reasons of security and is registered as such with the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner Migrants.” Till now the state government recognized only those as migrants, who had migrated from valley after November, 1989. Now it seeks to recognize persons living in valley, who have shifted from one place of valley to the other for security reasons, also as migrants.

A story, which is in circulation amongst the displaced Kashmiri Hindus in Jammu, may help us to understand the purpose and purport of the modification in the definition of the ‘migrant’. Before  the state cabinet eventually decided to start the recruitment drive for around 3000 posts for the ‘Migrants’, for which central government had committed the financial assistance as per the Prime minister’s package, news papers in Jammu reported  on several occasions the decision of the state cabinet to go ahead with the recruitment drive. People in Jammu were baffled as to why the same decision was being taken repeatedly by the government. After one such news paper report, that the state government has decided to go ahead with the recruitment drive,  a group of Kashmiri Hindu activists were  reportedly prodded by a journalist friend to go to the Revenue Minister  to thank him for the same. The activists reportedly met the Minister who told them that no such decision had been taken by the state cabinet till then and also informed them that they had a wrong notion that they were the only migrants. He reportedly told them that Kashmiri Pandits constituted only a small fraction of migrants of Kashmir and they should not expect more than a few hundred jobs. The activists’ delegation returned dejected after meeting the Minister and complained to their journalist friend who had arranged for the meeting.  While discussing the issue at Press club a Congress leader, who happened to be there, reportedly told them that the State Cabinet had in fact discussed the issue but the NC leader and the senior Cabinet Minister Abdul Rahim Rather had opposed the move vehemently and also suggested that the Kashmiri Hindus were not the only migrants and there were many migrants living in the valley itself.  The story, true or a rumor, however became the talk of the town for Kashmiri Hindus living in Jammu.  The motives of the  State Government became clear after the notification was published and modified definition of 'migrant' came to public light.

This modified definition of ‘migrant’, when seen together with the ‘agreement’ which the selected candidate has to furnish before joining, completes the picture of the mind set guiding the state government. The new definition empowers the government to recruit persons amongst the locals in the valley for the Prime Minister’s package which was essentially devised for persons displaced from the valley. And the ‘agreement’ that in case the newly recruited employee migrates from Kashmir valley again ‘at any stage for any reasons whatsoever, he will automatically stand terminated from services and shall have no claim against any post under the State’, ensures that the new recruit accepts the social and political order in the valley totally and unconditionally. 

The grim irony of the whole process is that the state government has vehemently opposed the employment package for the displaced Kashmiri Hindus outside the valley on the plea that the situation has improved significantly on the ground in the Valley and at the same time sought to enlarge the definition of the ‘migrant’ by claiming that there has been internal displacement within the valley  itself from one place to another in recent years because of security reasons and such persons should also be treated at par with ‘migrants’ outside the valley.

The intentions of the state government are brazen enough to be missed. The State government by opposing the employment outside the valley creates condition of attrition for the Kashmiri Hindus not to avail of the opportunity of a job for which the Central government has furnished the necessary resources. It also seeks to take a significant slice out of the employment package by creating a new category of migrants living in the valley and creating space for Muslim recruitment.  To the secret list of Muslim migrants in Jammu and the Political migrants whose names and whereabouts have always been kept under the warps, one more secret list of migrants  who are internally displaced within the valley itself must have been already added well before the recruitment drive started. At the same time the State government resorts to strip the employee of all fundamental rights by making him or her sign an agreement of the type already referred to here.

November 9-10, 1936, in the history of Jewish holocaust, has come to be known as Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) outside the Germany and ‘Night of Pogrom’ within the Germany. That night Nazis looted and then destroyed thousands of Jewish homes and business establishment in every part of the country in Germany. After the Kristallnacht writes Richard Rubenstein, “the hoodlums were banished and the bureaucrat took over.” In the weeks that followed key Nazi officials led by Henirich Himmler saw to it that the measures against the Jews were strictly ‘legal’.  Kristallnacht started for Kashmiri Hindus in the latest phase of their genocide after the locks of Ram Temple in Ayodhya were opened in December1986 and the Muslim vengeance was wrecked on Kashmiri Hindus in Anantnag with the burning and looting of Hindu houses and plunder and desecration of Hindu Temples. But the Kristallnacht didn’t abate after a few days for Kashmiri Hindus. It emerged in its full fury on 19 January, 1990 and continued thereafter till whole of the Hindu habitat in the Valley was destroyed.  The bureaucrats and the political class in the valley had taken over well before the unleashing of destruction to make many of the acts of attrition to look perfectly ‘legal ‘and their control has only strengthened since then.

When the displaced population was named as ‘migrant’ it was an act of ‘legal’ attrition seeking to dispossess the victim even the sympathy of the population willing to help and deprive them of the help of any  proper legal framework which could have guided the government policies.

Almost all aspect of the handling of the problem of Kashmiri Hindus, in exile where they were in a relative safety from the direct physical assault of the perpetrators, have been subjected to this legal and administrative attrition. At the peak of militancy in early 90’s promotion orders of migrant employees were issued posting the promoted Kashmiri Hindu women folk in the areas like Kupwara which were remote and in the grip of militancy. All the women folk at that time chose to forgo their promotion orders and the vacant positions were duly filled from amongst the local Muslim. The processes of usurpation chosen was given a veneer to appear perfectly legal When land and property records were allowed to be tampered with and Hindu properties fraudulently occupied or encroached upon the perpetrators used again a methodology to give an impression that usurpation was 'legal' Prolonged and protracted litigation by displaced Kashmiri Hindus  to salvage their properties is a saga of struggle in extreme penury.

Bureaucrats and the communal establish-ment took over to decide the parameters of ex-gratia relief or insurance claims for the Hindu properties burnt and destroyed in the Valley. A cursory comparison with the parameters of relief and cash assistance given to the residents who had suffered damage during the earthquake in the valley will bring out in ample measure the mindset at work.  It took almost hundred orders for the government to restore the basic rights of the ‘migrant employee’. For each order to materialize the displaced Hindu employees had to wage a relentless struggle of protests, dharnas and rallies in scorching heat. Hundreds of them perished during these mobilization drives because of heat strokes.

More recent example is about the HRA-CCA allowance for the displaced employees which had been denied to most of them all these years. Employees went to the State High Court for the redressal of their problems.  Even after the double bench of High Court upheld the plea of the employees. But the State Government refused to restore the right and instead chose to challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court. The State Government  plea was dismissed by the Supreme Court as well. It is now months since the Supreme Court dismissed the government plea but the State government is yet to move in the matter.  In the process hundreds of employees have retired and those who are in service are still not sure whether they will eventually get the benefit which was always their right.

The attrition in exile has assumed the legal form guided by the perpetrators and collaborators of genocide within the government and the political establishment. The phenomenon is manifest glaringly in the return policy of the government. The policy is being used to force the victim to conform and submit or face the spectre of abject destitution and perish. The recruitment drive for ‘Kashmiri migrants’ is basically a process to strip him of his right to live with dignity and honour.

What the government is doing is brazen and yet those who should act are refusing to see the writing on the wall. Joseph Goebbels once confided about his methods in a confidential meeting with the German Journalists, “ up to now we have succeeded in leaving the enemy in the dark concerning Germany’s real goals.. just 1932 our domestic foes never saw where we were going or that our oath of legality was just a trick… we wanted to come to power legally, but we did not use power legally… they could have suppressed us..... They could have arrested a couple of us in 1925 and that would have been that, the end. No they let us through the danger zone…. They let us alone and let us slip through the risky zone and we were able to sail around all dangerous reefs.”  Kashmiri Hindus are being subjected to a new phase of genocidal attrition by an enemy who is thinking that it has crossed the ‘danger zone’ and can now wage the war with more confidence. The government of India is living in a twilight between “knowing and unknowing” and is refusing the ‘full realization of facts because it feels unable to face the implications of these facts’. Kashmiri Hindus cannot afford to refuse to see the facts because the genocide is far from having abated. The return process initiated by the government is not a rehabilitation process but only a grave refoulment.

*(The author heads Panun Kashmir)

Source: Kashmir Sentinel



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