Unending tragedy of Kashmiri Hindus
By J.G. Arora
Pakistan is enjoying its victory lap after rendering Kashmir into a Hinduless region.
It is tragic that Kashmir, the land of Maharishi Kashyap, Lalitaditya, Maharani Kota Rani and Kalhan; the cradle of Vedic heritage; and the region which was ruled by Hindus and which defeated Muslim invaders heroically for many centuries, is now witnessing genocide of Hindus with their forced eviction from Kashmir to live like refugees in their own country for the past 15 years.
It is outrageous that lakhs of Kashmiri Hindus, the original inhabitants of Kashmir with a history of thousands of years of art, culture, literature and architecture, and followers of an all-embracing Vedic tradition preaching universal brotherhood and oneness of humanity, have been driven out from their homes.
Genocide and exodus
During the 1980s and 1990s, Pakistan-sponsored terrorists killed thousands of Hindus in Kashmir, forcing several lakhs of terrorised Hindus to flee from Kashmir. Driven out from their homes, these displaced Kashmiri Hindus are leading a wretched existence in cramped camps and tattered tents in Jammu, New Delhi and other places. Feelings of deprivation, hurt, humiliation and helplessness constantly plague them. Divested of their roots and rights, they face an unpredictable future.
Successive governments have done nothing to rehabilitate them and to punish their tormentors. The present Congress-led UPA government also is insensitive to their misery, as it has done nothing towards their rehabilitation. Rather, this government has launched terrorist-friendly, passport and visa-free Muzaffarabad-Srinagar bus service which has opened floodgates to infiltration of more Pakistanis into India to wreak further havoc in Kashmir and elsewhere in the country.
Both the Central and State governments, as also the media and all major political parties are silent over genocide, exodus and the pathetic plight of Kashmiri Hindus, and are responding with deception, negation and inaction over this catastrophe. Deserted and disowned by the nation, Kashmiri Hindus stand all alone.
The international community is unaware of their plight as it recognises refugees only when they flee into another country, and not if they seek shelter within their own country.
It is deplorable that various human rights organisations, which are otherwise very vocal against any real or imaginary infringement of human rights, are silent about genocide and gross violation of human rights of lakhs of Kashmiri Hindus.
While the displaced lot suffers in silence, the media is busy indulging in their anti-Hindu agenda and such trivialities. The sage of the unending tragedy of Kashmiri Hindus remains untold. But as Indian citizens, they have a right to return to their homes in Kashmir which is an integral part of India. It is the bounden duty of Union and state governments to ensure their return and safety in Kashmir.
To demonstrate that Kashmir is an integral part of India, India has to take to task persons responsible for genocide in Kashmir, and rehabilitate Kashmiri Hindus in Kashmir at the earliest. But the refugees cannot return to their homes unless the root cause of their ouster is removed.
Reasons for their Pathetic Plight
Terrorists and their guns are the reasons for the ouster of Kashmiri Hindus from Kashmir. And the presence of Article 370 in the Constitution of India is the main reason for terrorism in Kashmir.
Article 370 negates the very concept of one unified India.
By conferring a special status on Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir, Article 370 has created serious problems. Though Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India, even the President or Prime Minister of India cannot purchase even one square inch of land in the state. Moreover, though any person from Jammu & Kashmir can reside and settle anywhere else in India, no person from the rest of the country can reside and settle in Jammu & Kashmir because of Article 370. Besides, many of the Central laws are not applicable to Jammu & Kashmir. This Article limits the President'sand Parliament'spowers over Jammu & Kashmir.
Article 370 has contributed to the growth of feelings of separatism resulting in ouster of Hindus from Kashmir.
Though Constitution-framers had inserted Article 370 only as a ?temporary provision?, it survives even in 2005, nearly 55 years after the Constitution came into effect in 1950.
In order to save India, we have to save Kashmir. We cannot save either without abrogating Article 370.
Terrorism is inflicting deep financial and security wounds on the Indian State. Abrogation of Article 370 will defeat terrorism and more fully integrate Kashmir with the rest of India.
Abrogation of Article 370 to bring Jammu & Kashmir on par with other states has to be the first step to solve the Kashmir problem. And instead of providing passport and visa-free Muzaffarabad-Srinagar bus service which has opened the floodgates for more Pakistani infiltrators, all steps to deport existing crores of Pakistani and Bangladeshi infiltrators have to be taken immediately. Besides, as per the ?doctrine of hot pursuit? of International Law, terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Bangladesh have to be smashed; and if necessary, an all out war launched against these unreasonable nations.
Retaining of Article 370 defies all logic. According to Barbara W. Tuchman (1912-1989), American historian and author of The March of Folly, all disasters of history are the result of the government'sfolly and perverse persistence in pursuing the policies contrary to national interests. How I wish the Indians would prove Barbara W. Tuchman wrong and immediately abrogate Article 370!
Such a long wait
If Kashmiri Hindus are allowed to perish, Hindus in the rest of the country would also perish in the next few decades and Kashmir is just the beginning of Islamisation of India.
Kashmiri Hindus survive in the fond hope that soon they would be able to return to their home land. Besides, they want to survive their ?thousands of years?-old customs, traditions and culture. They have a natural longing and every right to return to Kashmir.
Apart from solving the Kashmir problem, abrogation of Article 370 would initiate the process of home-coming of Kashmiri Hindus.
Will someone introduce the Bill (to abrogate Article 370) in the Parliament to bring Jammu & Kashmir at par with other Indian states to enable exiles to return to Kashmir? Will Kashmiri Hindus ever return to their homes in Kashmir for which they have been waiting for so long?
(The author is former Chief Commissioner of Income Tax and can be contacted at [email protected])