On the occasion of World Human Rights Day, the actual victims of human rights violation in Jammu & Kashmir should be identified, acknowledged and provided with much needed succour.
On December, 10 World Human Rights Day will be observed. This date coincides with the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.
In Kashmir, the day will, undoubtedly, be marked by protests orchestrated by a miniscule separatist segment of Kashmiri society who attempts to project the fallacy of the Bharateeya state being an oppressor of human rights in Kashmir. There will be some candle light vigils, some seminars etc. for a vocal round of Bharat bashing; some street protests and other disruptive and provocative activities. It is necessary to expose this fallacious sham perpetrated by the separatists and identify what actually constitutes human rights violation in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).
First and foremost is violation of the human rights of the security forces. While carrying out counter-terrorist and counter-infiltration operations to control foreign-sponsored terrorism, they are losing the precious lives, not to talk of the trauma of fighting on their own land and being accused of causing harm to civilians of their own country.
The hapless Hindu refugees who entered J&K at the time of partition from district Sialkot are also victims of human rights violations. Unlike the people who were dislocated from Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJK) these people were not state subjects. Now numbering more the 2.5 lakhs, they reside along the border belt of Jammu. Generations of these refugees have, therefore, been denied basic human rights like the right of citizenship, employment, education and ownership of property etc.
The Kashmiri Pundit community was driven out of homes nearly three decades ago by foreign terrorists and sold out indigenous sponsors in the name of religion and Jihad. The struggle of these hapless people to get back to their homeland does not seem to be going anywhere.
Hindus residing in the hill tracts south of the Pir Panjal mountain range were also displaced when terrorism was at its peak and to live in dilapidated camps in Jammu and Udhampur. Even though terrorism is now contained, they are not being able to garner the courage to go back to their native villages in any case, where there lands stand forcibly occupied.
Simbal camp is the residence of mostly Sikhs and some Hindus who, during the holocaust of the partition, ran out from Muzaffarabad and other areas that now constitute POJK. They came all the way down to Jammu and settled in this area which is still known as a “camp”. They did not get compensation for the properties lost in their ancestral homeland on the premise that they will get back the same when POJK comes back to the Bharateeya Union. As a result, these people are being denied honourable existence. Though state subjects by law, their integration is still incomplete. In fact, their very status is ambiguous with definitions ranging from refugees to migrants to displaced persons.
Some personnel from the Valmiki Samaj were specially called from Punjab by the Government of J&K in 1957 as Safai Karamcharis (Sweepers). At that stage they were promised permanent resident status. Today, almost six decades hence, they have not been declared state subjects. Their numbers have increased from the original 250 families to about 5000. Their children continue to be ineligible to apply for government jobs except as Safai Karamcharis. They can vote in the Lok Sabha elections, but not in the State Assembly or local body elections. They are deprived of the benefits of centrally sponsored schemes because they are denied Scheduled Caste certificates.
A special mention must be made about the human rights violations heaped upon the hapless people of the Kashmir Valley. They are regularly forced to shut down their businesses due to shut down calls given by the separatists. This disruption of normal life at the behest of the Hurriyat and other separatist elements constitutes the grossest form of human rights violation.
This is the time to put the debate on human rights violation in the right perspective. It is time to pay heed to what constitutes the actual violation of human rights in J&K. On the occasion of World Human Rights Day, the actual victims of human rights violation in J&K should be identified, acknowledged and provided with much needed succour.
Surely, this is not too much to ask for on World Human Rights Day!
Jaibans Singh (The writer is a columnist with expertise on Jammu & Kashmir)