A Valley in Tears
Crisis of Legitimacy
the tragedy in Kashmir unfolds, human rights organizations in India and a road
continue to censure India for its violations of the rights of terrorists to
kill, maim and intimidate those who would differ with them.
If these organizations are to have
any legitimacy in the Kashmiri context, they must stand for human rights on all
sides; they must condemn the depredations of the terrorists factions at least
with the same vehemence that they complain of purported human rights violations
by the democratically elected legitimate forces of law and order.
Why have they not done so; why have
they not recognized the individual rights of all Kashmiris - Asia Watch has
recorded some of the violations, however, as a post-script, of course,
gratefully acknowledged by Focus.
What these organizations, have,
perhaps, deliberately neglected is the fact that terrorism is real; that
innocent men, women and children are dying because of the vicious actions of
these hardened bands of outlaws.
And that is the heart of the
argument. These terrorists are outlaws, they are making war on the legitimate
forces of a democratic societal order and any who support them.
That innocents are dying is a
terrible reality, but in this most dirty of proxy wars, innocents will continue
to die until the terrorists allow a democratic peaceful political process to be
established and implemented.
Every democratic government has not
only the right, but the duty to ensure the peace and maintain open and normal
public congress in all areas of its citizens' concern, and that responsibility
applies to all territories within the state's domain.
Kashmir is within India's domain,
and it is no less an integral part of the country than New Mexico is of the
United States. India must fight those who would violently attempt to destroy its
territorial integrity, and under international law, it has every right to do so.
It is the terrorists who operate
outside both international and Indian law, and it is the terrorists who cause
the pain and suffering to continue.
It would be appreciated if the
various human rights groups no doubt needed as the sentinels of our freedoms,
would at least acknowledge that the criminal forces making war on their own
government, carry a heavy responsibility for the continuing erosion of human
rights in the embattled Valley of Tears, the tragic vale of Kashmir.
The Year of the Phoenix
the damage to virtually all elements that make up the economic and social
infrastructure of Kashmir, economic growth has not only continued, it has
increased in both breadth and depth, and at an ever-quickening pace. In many
areas, growth has reached 100 percent over levels of five years before.
As is the case elsewhere in India,
Kashmiris fight the forces of death, dissolution and brutality, with the added
force of economic productivity and an undying commitment to democracy.
Private enterprise and state
support have combined to produce a growing economic miracle throughout Kashmir.
Agriculture accounts for more than 40 percent of Kashmir's economy, and its most
important segment, rice, has achieved the highest productivity rate in the
In other areas, energy production
will rise significantly when the Uri Hydel Power Plant comes on line. This
plant, together with major government initiatives to increase rural development
will further increase the region's economic comeback.
And with the active support of a
rapidly emerging private sector, small, but significant signs of a regenerating
vitality are just beginning to make an impact and give hope to the people of
this brutalized region.
Together, these and other
undertakings are acting as a kind of transfusion for the damaged body of
Kashmir, a transfusion rich with new economic blood, and accompanied with a
renewed political and moral will to fight the aggressors who would destroy what
so many generations have dedicated their lives to build.
Kashmir's war against evil is not
yet won. But Kashmir's surprising economic gains in the midst of terror and
turmoil are the bright promise, that like the Phoenix of legend, this benighted
land will arise from its own ashes, brighter and more glorious than ever
Focus, Vol. 2, No. 7, July 1992 .
Holocaust in Kashmir
A Cry in the Wilderness
father; someone's mother; someone's husband; someone's son; someone's daughter -
morning's roll call of death. Newspaper headlines, TV and radio headlines have
been reduced to a litany of death and destruction as the once happy, smiling
faces of the people of Kashmir, are transfigured with grief, shock bewilderment
and above all, dismay. Terrorism is no respecter of the sanctity of human life
and property. The terrorist's ethos is that of the criminal - kill, maim, and
destroy. An ethos that has left its mark on innumerable households where tears
are now commonplace and laughter an emotion long forgotten.
Bonds of religion, family, history, culture; shared
traditions of mutual help, courtesy and hospitality that characterised the Vale
of Kashmir over the millennia have been callously torn asunder by renegades
propounding a criminal philosophy ill disguised by a call to half baked ideals.
And the land of laughter and plenty is today coloured by the blood of innocents
sacrificed at the altar of terrorism.
Would that the dead could speak! For if they could,
they would with one voice, demand, from the keepers of the world's conscience, a
condemnation of the ultimate sacrilege of terrorism, that has defiled and
destroyed the peace and lives of the peoples of this once happy valley and now
the Valley of Tears.
Understanding The Kashmir Issue
The legal position of both India and Pakistan on
Kashmir does not need any repetition. The moot point, however, is that the
turmoil in Kashmir has transcended the legalities of the accession of the state
in 1947, and the insurgency is not a phenomenon of political dissent or a
movement meant to change the government but it is a "jehad", a
religious crusade against the non-conformists. All Pakistani politicians, the
state owned electronic media as well as the print media as a part of the
disinformation campaign speak in religious terms: the turmoil is called 'Jehad-e-Kashmir'.
The terrorists are called 'Mujahids' (soldiers of Islam), the terrorists, killed
in the Armed action are called Shaheed (martyrs).
Two Nation Theory
The covert objective of the so called jehad is to
complete the 'unfinished agenda of partition' by incorporating the Muslim
Majority state of Jammu and Kashmir in Pakistan in terms of the two nation
theory that had rent the sub-continent apart in the past. The two-nation theory—that
Hindus and Muslins constitute separate nations has already miserably failed,
with the creation of Bangladesh. Moreover, the ethnic and sectarian violence
rocking several provinces in Pakistan and the bare fact that the muslims, living
in India outnumber the muslims in Pakistan have exploded the said two nation
theory which was born out of political expediency.
Notwithstanding the Pakistan still cherishes fond
hopes to revive the theory, justify its existence and give renewed impetus to
its ideological moorings in Kashmir valley.
Strategy of Terrorism
Obstructing Pakistan's designs have been the
Hindus, universally referred to as Pandits, who have lived in Kashmir for
centuries, in fact even before the birth of Islam.
Therefore, the terrorists, aided and abetted by
Pakistan have resorted to killing Hindus systematically and methodically while
at the same time introducing religious indoctrination, by misusing mosques and
other available platforms, in a bid to frighten the secular Muslims.
As part of unleashing terror under the cover of
'self determination' at the behest of Pakistan, the terrorists have ransacked
libraries in educational institutions and prohibited books which did not conform
to their brand of knowledge. No wonder, more than 2,000 titles were 'pruned'.
They included all books of knowledge, Milton's Paradise Lost, G.B. Shaw's plays
etc. As part of the 'Islamisation' drive the terrorists used their gun power to
convert the canteen hall of Kashmir University into a mosque. Classes where
Darwin's Theory of Evolution was taught were asked to close since it did not
conform to the Islamic tenets.
The list of innocent persons who fell prey to the
bullets of terrorists is again illustrative of the Islamisation drive. The
victims included prominent educationists and subscribers to secular ideals.
Professor Mushir-ul-Haq, Vice Chancellor, Kashmir University who was kidnapped
and shot dead during 'Ramadan', the holy month of fasting in the Muslim calender,
Sarvanand Kaul 'Premi', a poet who used to take pride in reciting The Quran,
P.N. Handoo, Assistant Director, information and octogenerarian Maulana Mohammad
Syed Masoodi, a renowned Muslim scholar were among such victims at the hands of
The motivation is obvious. There were people like
them who could see the game and had the courage and conviction to speak out
against the evil designs and hence some of them had to be singled out for
Forced Migration from Kashmir
In the wake of ongoing terrorists' violence,
hundreds of thousands have migrated from Kashmir valley. They included Muslims,
Sikhs, and 72,000 Hindu (Kashmir Pandit) families. Since then a number of Muslim
families have fled away from the Kashmir valley and barring a handful, no Hindus
are left in Srinagar city.
The systcmatic process of killing the Hindu
population began as early as February 27 in 1990 when Mr. Tej Krishan, a Hindu
was hanged to death at Yachikot Lidder near Pahelgam in Anantnag district of the
Kashmir valley. On April 22 same year the body of Joginder Malhotra was
recovered by the police from Safakadal locality in Srinagar city. After five
days, terrorists intruded in the house of Bharat Bhushan, another Hindu who was
a medical assistant. He was abducted by the terrorists. His body was later found
hanging from a tree. The process continued. The list is a long one and the
stories of torture unleashed on the Hindu population are heart rending.
Three Probationary officers of the Life Insurance
Corporation of India (LIC), an autonomous body, were abducted by the terrorists
from a public park on June 23 in 1991. They were severely tortured and locked in
a vacant house of a Hindu migrant. The house was later set on fire. Two of them
died in the fire while the lucky one was rescued by the police and rushed to the
In October 1991, the terrorists embarked upon
setting fire to the vacant houses of the migrants in a systematic manner. On
October nine, the Devi Temple at Baramulla was set on fire. The roof of the
temple was gutted in the fire. The same day the house of a Hindu, was gutted in
Kupwara town, about 50 kms. from Baramulla. The process is continuing. It seems
that the terrorists after killing the entire Hindu population from the Kashmir
valley now want to close down any process of return of the Hindu population by
burning their vacant houses, their last link with the valley.
Whose Human Rights are Being Violated?
Pakistan is trying to focus exclusively on Indian
Security Forces action against terrorists. In fact it is terrorists' violence
that ultimately determines the limits and extent of state action to contain it.
Terrorists' violence per se is a violation of human
rights. The resolution of the UN General Assembly on measures to prevent
international terrorism, passed on December 9 in 1985 followed by the Security
Council resolution after nine days, interalia "unequivocally condemned as
criminal, all acts, methods and practices of terrorism wherever and by whom ever
committed, including those who jeopardised the friendly relations between
Don't the terrorists have any responsibility?
Moreover, are Human Rights meant only to protect a
few fundamentalist Muslims in Kashmir against the authority of the state? Do
they not equally involve protection of the Hindus, Buddhists, Shia Muslims and
others against the extermination, persecution and threat?