A panel discussion exploring the relationship between religion and the Kashmiri tangle was held on July 9, 2008, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM, at MIT, Cambridge, MA. The panelists were Dr. Andrew Bostom, Dr. Subramanium Swamy, Mr. Ashok Pandit, Mr. Ashwani Chungroo, and Dr. Mahesh Mehta. Dr. Bikash Verma served as the moderator. Over 150 people attended the panel discussion.
[Click here to read the text of Dr. Swamy's presentation.]
The five experts deliberated on the role that Islamic theology has played in shaping the Kashmiri conflict. The conflict they concluded was primarily rooted in the non-negotiable desire of Islamists to have absolute and brutal domination over parts of the world where Muslims are in majority. Dr. Subramanian Swamy, a prominent Indian lawmaker and former minister in the Indian cabinet, suggested that only through resolution and determination, dangerous ideologies like the one which drives Kashmiri separatism can be arrested and contained. He argued that progress in this direction will come only if Hindus of India develop clarity on questions pertaining to their identity, and collectively resolve to deter the global rise of Islamic fanaticism through ways which are effective, direct, forthright and yet consistent with modern civilizational norms.
The evening started with a social hour, in which everyone enjoyed the delicious snacks provided.
Dr. Bikash Verma opened the evening by introducing himself and the panelists. "The problem of Kashmir is multi-dimensional: political, cultural, strategic, historical, and religious," noted Dr. Verma. "While significant attempts have been made to understand Kashmir from these diverse standpoints, the role played by religion in the tangle has been more or less ignored." The panel discussion attempted to understand Kashmir from a religious standpoint.
A very moving and graphic documentary on terrorism in Kashmir and the forced exodus of Hindus from Kashmir directed and produced by Mr. Ashok Pandit, one of the panelists and a prolific author and cultural activist from Kashmir valley, brought tears to the eyes of the many in the audience. The film clearly traced the trigger for the violent exodus to Benazir Bhutto's hateful exhortations. Her fiery speech ignited the Muslim separatists in Kashmir valley against the Hindus. The propaganda spawned deep Muslim hatred against all "non-believers". Ms. Bhutto repeatedly called for "jihad" against all non-Muslims.
The film questioned why intellectuals, humanitarians, the Indian Parliament, and indeed the whole world remained silent against this holocaust. Mr. Pandit said that Kashmir was just a trailer, a teaser of how terrorism would affect not only India but the whole world. The havoc wreaked in the Mumbai blasts, in which 200 people were killed in just 3 minutes, was a portent of things to come. He called on the saints of India to unite the people to fight against terrorism and the rights of the Hindus in their own land.
Dr. Andrew G. Bostom, MD, MS, an American scholar and Associate Professor of Medicine at Brown University Medical School, convincingly demonstrated with historical facts that what is occurring in Kashmir is nothing but a jihad, a pattern of brutal killing, dominance and destruction that has been waged by Islam across Africa, Europe and Asia in the past. Dr. Bostom is a noted author on Islam and a regular contributor to FrontPageMag.com and the American Thinker magazine. He has appeared on FOX News as a commentator on Jihad. His essay at the panel presented facts about jihad. He quoted from the Hadith and said that all Muslims were bound by duty to perform jihad against every non-Muslim. This violence was present throughout the world, not just in the present but also in the past.
Subramanian Swamy, PhD, a trained economist who has served as a former Cabinet Minister in India's central government, is a strong supporter of democracy and has made substantial contributions towards the undoing of the Emergency in 1977. Dr. Swamy has had a long association with Kashmir. In 1981, he persuaded Deng Xiaoping to open the Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet to pilgrims from India. Dr. Swamy proclaimed himself as a true Kashmiri because he came from the Kashyap gotra. Kashyap Rishi was the founder of Kashmir. He said. "The problem is not with the Muslims or any other minority community, the problem lies with the Hindus who are fragmented and not able to stand up for themselves." He added, "Kashmiri Pandits have been targeted because they are Hindus." Hindus have always protected the minorities - Jews, Parsees. In addition to Dar-ul-Islam (eliminate the non Muslims) and Dar-ul-Harab (assert the Muslim), he talked about a third state: Dar-ul-Hadda. In this state the Muslims are in a very small minority and the recommended policy in Hadith is to surrender in fear of being wiped out. Perhaps, this is the secret to the solution of Islamic separatism in India.
Mr. Ashwani Chungroo, the President of Pannun (Our) Kashmir Movement and a prominent human rights activist, gave a historical background of a civilization that was unparalleled in this planet. He praised India's contributions to the world whose source was in the land of Kashmir. He pointed out that terrorism in Kashmir is not a recent phenomena, it started as far back as 1400 CE. Mr. Chrungoo, who is a representative of Global Human Rights Defense organization, pointed out that there is no validity to the term "Kashmiriyat" and that this term was invented by Shiekh Abdullah in the seventies as a facade.
Dr. Mahesh Mehta, a Board member of Global Foundation for Civilizational Harmony, and a pioneer instrumental in starting several organizations serving the Indo-American community, including VHPA, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation, and Hindu University of America, addressed the issue of "where do we go from here?" He said that India is a motherland that was torn apart on the basis of religion. Hindus need to wake up. Muslims are able to come together regardless of their ethnicity, and it is time that the Hindus also put aside their differences and spoke with one voice.
The informative, stimulating and charged discussion was followed by a question-and-answer session from the audience. The audience praised the movie by Mr. Pandit, and asked what we can do so more such movies are made, and more politicians and filmmakers talk about these issues so that they come to the forefront. A clarification about Hindu identity was responded to by Dr. Swamy. Nachiketa Tiwari spoke of the fear factor of Islam, and how it grips the world today. Dr. Bostom pointed out that the Middle East oil wealth is being used to corrupt regimes as well as the media, and promote terrorism and separatism throughout the world.
Both Bostom and Swamy highlighted emphatically that the primary cause of conflicts such as the one in Kashmir is the Islamic requirement for the faithful to convert Dar-ul-Harab states (i.e. abode of war, or the land ruled by infidels) into Dar-ul-Islam (i.e. abode of Islam where Islamic laws are followed and the ruler is a Muslim) by all means possible. Ashwani Chungroo and Ashok Pandit who are Kashmiri Hindu human rights activists shared gruesome details of the toll this conflict has taken on lives of countless people living in Kashmir.
Dr. Swamy pointed out that the instrument of accession signed by Kashmir's leader at the time of India's partition is irrevocable. In summary he suggested that: 1) 700,000 ex-serviceman should be settled in the Kashmir valley to partially restore the demographic profile, 2) The article 370 should be revoked. The President of India is empowered to cancel it with a stroke of the pen, 3) The Hindus should retaliate with strength every single time a temple is damaged or destroyed by restoring a temple that was desecrated or destroyed in the past by the Islamists.
"Never have a feeling of hopelessness about India," reminded Dr. Swamy. Humans can plan and execute only 10% of the things. The rest 90% is really determined by turn of events. The election announcement following the period of emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in the 1970's was a case in point. Some unexpected events will shape the future. Our job is to act.