Press release from IAKF corollary in Canada, ICKF--Indo-Canadian Kashmir Forum--after a highly successful rally in front of the Indian Embassy in Toronto on August 30, 2008.
Indo-Canadian Kashmir Forum (ICKF) and Kashmiri Overseas Association of Canada (KOAC) welcomes the agreement reached between the Jammu & Kashmir Governor’s appointed panel and Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangarsh Samiti (SAYSS) members that has led to the suspension of agitation by the SAYSS.
It is nevertheless noteworthy that Government of India (GOI) chose to ignore the agitation initially and it took almost 40 days for the GOI to react to Jammu agitation. In contrast, the Islamic separatists of the valley only had to take out their usual anti-India processions for two days and GOI rewarded them by suspending the land allocation order that had been passed after studying the issue for well over two years following the J&K High Court order. Such disparity in the decision making process clearly does not give us confidence in the GOIs commitment to protect the rights of minorities in the J&K state. How can 700,000 indigenous Kashmiri Hindus and Sikhs, who have been leaving the state under compulsions imposed on them by majority Muslim governments and 500,000 of whom were ethnically cleansed from the valley in January 1990 expect timely justice from GOI?
The plight of the aboriginal people of Kashmir, the Kashmiri Hindu and Sikh refugees remains unchanged. Large numbers of our people continue to live in refugee camps in Jammu, Udhampur and Delhi regions and a large number of us are scattered all over the country. Government of India continues to call us “Migrants” in official documentation. We would like to bring to your attention the fact that our people suffered ethnic cleansing at the hands of Islamists and we would like to reiterate the fact that we were forced to leave the land of our ancestors at gunpoint and that we did not leave on our own accord as the word “Migrants” would suggest. As a goodwill gesture on the part of GOI, the Central Government should immediately i) take steps to ensure safety and security of Kashmir Hindus and Sikhs still living in the valley as Islamic militants continue their path of anarchy and ii) move to give us the Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) status which will be a small first step in restoring our political rights and our political empowerment in the state legislature and could lead to the reversal of ethnic cleansing process. There are numerous examples of reservation of MLAs of Christian minorities in other states of India.
ICKF and KOAC express hope that Government of India will truly reestablish the secular traditions of the state and treat each and every citizen equally rather than indulge in vote bank politics and refrain from implementing policies to appease the Islamists and anti-national politicians. Immediate intervention is required on the part of GOI, otherwise aboriginal Kashmiri culture, which is already in decline, will be extinct within a decade.
ICKF and KOAC Board of Directors