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What Will It Take, Mr. Prime Minister? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lalit Koul   
Tuesday, 09 May 2006 00:00
Guest editorial at rediff.com from Lalit Koul, editor and publisher of the Kashmir Herald, an online news journal.

Also published at: http://ia.rediff.com/news/2006/may/09guest1.htm?q=np&f

January 25/26, 1997: 25 at Wandhama-Ganderbal

March 20, 1997: 7 at Sangrampura

April 18, 1998: 27 at Prankote

June 19, 1998: 25 at Chapnari

July 28, 1998: 16 in two villages of Doda district

August 8, 1998: 35 at Kalaban

February 20, 1999: 4 at Muraputta, 9 at Barlyara and 7 at Bllala

June 30, 1999: 15 in Anantnag district

July 19, 1999: 15 at Layata

February 28, 2000: 5 near Qazigund

March 20, 2000: 35 at Chatisinghpora

August 1, 2000: 31 Amarnath Yatris at Pahalgam

August 1-2, 2000: 27 in Qazigund and Achabal

August 2, 2000: 11 in Doda district

February 3, 2001: 6 in Mahjoornagar in Srinagar

February 11, 2001: 15 in Kot-Chadwal

March 2, 2001: 15 in Manjkote

March 17, 2001: 8 near Atholi in Doda

July 21, 2001: 13 including 7 Amarnath pilgrims at Sheshnag

July 22, 2001: 12 in Cheerji and Tagood in Doda district

August 4, 2001: 15 in Ludder-Sharotid Har area in Doda district

January 7, 2002: 17 in Ramsoo

February 17, 2002: 8 in Rajouri

March 30, 2002: 12 at the Raghunath temple in Jammu

May 14, 2002: 32 at the army camp in Kaluchak, Jammu

July 13, 2002: 20 in Kasim Nagar, Jammu

August 6, 2002: 9 Amarnath pilgrims at the Nunwan base camp in Pahalgam

August 24, 2002: 10 in Rajouri

November 24, 2002: 14 at the Raghunath Temple in Jammu

March 24, 2003: 24 in Nadimarg

April 29, 2005: 13 in Udhampur district

April 30, 2005: 22 in Doda district

Wonder what these numbers refer to? Yes, these numbers refer to the innocent people who have been massacred by Islamist terrorists in the state of Jammu & Kashmir during last few years. And this is not a comprehensive list by any means. It just highlights the major massacres that have been undertaken by Islamist terrorists in recent years. In addition to these major massacres, there have been targeted killings going on at regular intervals all through these years.

And do you know what was common among these innocent victims? Yes, all these victims of Islamic terrorism were innocent Hindus, who believed in the Indian national flag and Constitution.

Targeted killings of Hindus in J&K continue unabated but nothing moves our state and central government. Instead of any concrete and decisive response, we hear oft-repeated sound-bytes from our politicians and policy makers. Here is how they reacted to the latest massacre in Doda and Udhampur:

Militants kill 22 in remote Doda village

'People of Kashmir have rejected and rebuffed terrorists repeatedly,' said our Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.

'We have advised the state authorities to review the security measures for the minorities in the state. This incident clearly shows the desperation of the terrorists who want to derail the peace process in the state,' said Home Secretary V K Duggal.

Our Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal chimed in: 'The terrorists do not want the peace initiatives being taken by the Centre to succeed.'

And finally J&K's Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad topped it off by saying: 'The killers will not be spared. We will not allow them to succeed in their designs. We would rather give a big push to the peace process. I want to make it clear once and for all that we will not bow to any pressure from terrorists. They will not be allowed to get away with their acts of mass murders.'

Mr Chief Minister, which planet are you living in? They have been getting away with these acts of mass murder all along without any punitive repercussions and you talk about not allowing them to get away. I know it is said that ignorance is bliss but not in this case. Please wake up and try to see the reality on the ground.

Do these sound bytes sound familiar? How many times have we heard these already? At this point, we don't even need to ask these politicians for their reaction. Don't we already know what they are going to say?

And what do the Opposition parties do? The age-old call for a bandh. That is what the National Conference and Panthers Party have done -- called for a Jammu bandh. The BJP has not even done that. It has totally given up. It might as well close the shop and go for a perpetual Rath Yatra touring every village of India. That will keep the BJP and its remaining leadership busy for a while.

The worst but most-repeated statement that the Government of India issues is: 'These killings will not affect the peace process with Pakistan.'

WHY NOT?

Why shouldn't these killings affect the peace process with Pakistan? Why shouldn't India withdraw from all the peace processes and so-called confidence building measures? Why shouldn't India demand the absolute closing down of the entire terror infrastructure in Pakistan and the verification of the same by joint Indo-Pak forces? Why shouldn't India be forthright and blunt about blaming Pakistan for this scourge of terrorism? Why does India have to play nice while its innocent citizens, including little children, are getting killed day in and day out by these Islamist terrorists who are supported and sponsored by Pakistan?

Until and unless Pakistan stops all the support -- moral, political, diplomatic, economic and military, to terrorists, India should not entertain any offer of talks from Pakistan. India just needs to focus on eradicating terrorists from J&K and I propose the following 13-step process to achieve that with immediate effect:

1. Stop all confidence building measures that are in process with Pakistan;

2. Suspend all diplomatic relations with Pakistan;

3. Suspend the Caravan-e-Aman bus service between Srinagar and Muzzafarabad;

4. Cancel the scheduled meeting with Pakistan's puppets, the Hurriyat Conference;

5. Seal the entire border with Pakistan and Bangladesh;

6. Declare internal emergency in J&K, without suspending the constitution;

7. Appoint someone like K P S Gill as the internal security czar in J&K, who will oversee the entire security operations in the state and will report directly to the Prime Minister's Office;

8. Let the civilian state government, elected by the masses, handle the civilian operations within the state;

9. Give appropriate and required authority to security forces and agencies;

10. Ask all foreign reporters and so-called Amnesty International observers to leave J&K within 24 hours;

11. Give an ultimatum to all the citizens of J&K to stop shielding and supporting terrorists. Anyone found shielding and supporting any terrorists will be charged accordingly;

12. Give an ultimatum of 3 weeks to all terrorists in J&K to lay down arms and surrender or face the wrath of the security forces and; 13. Then let the show begin.

At the South Asia Journal conference organised by South Asia Free Media Association, Pakistan's Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said, 'The dialogue process with India is underway. However, its pace is not very good and there is need to speed up this process.' He also said: 'Both countries now should move towards dispute resolution rather than dispute management.'

India should tell Shaukat Aziz to shut up and instead focus on his internal mess. It is about time to tell Pakistan to go to hell. India has no obligation to listen to Shaukat Aziz or any of his minions.

India does not have to worry about how the US and other European nations will react to her strategy to deal with terrorism. It is India's problem and India needs to deal with it in the manner that is in the best interest of India and its citizens. When a nine-year-old girl is killed in Doda district, it is the blood of India that flows. We need to be crystal clear in our dealings with US and other Western nations and tell them categorically that Indian blood is as precious as American or European blood.

If the US and other Western nations can take all the extreme measures, which they should and they are, to protect their citizens and land, India has the absolute right to do the same. When a terrorist hurts an innocent Indian child, s/he is hurting the whole nation of India and India will not tolerate that at any cost.

So I have only one question for our honorable Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh:

Having already lost so much innocent blood, what will it take Mr Prime Minister?

Lalit Koul is the editor and publisher of Kashmir Herald, an online news-journal available at http://www.kashmirherald.com He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last Updated on Saturday, 11 September 2010 04:39
 
Ushering New Hope For Disfranchised Kashmiri Pandit Refugees PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Vijay K. Sazawal   
Sunday, 30 April 2006 00:00

Presentation at the Kashmir Secular Alliance (KSA) Seminar on April 30, 2006 in Jammu, Kashmir, by Anil Dhar on behalf of Dr. Vijay Sazawal.

I am a born optimist. Quite frankly any other personal disposition would have made me close my "shop" long time ago. I would have joined innumerable other Pandits who dabble in public activities for a brief period and then move along to other, perhaps more honorable, pursuits.

The "shop" I am referring to is politics. Politics, it should be mentioned, means many things to many people. So let me begin by saying what it is not. Politics is not exclusionary. By that I mean you cannot pursue goals that benefit some at the expense of others from your own community. Moreover, the benefits should continue into future generations. Politics is not ignorance. By that I mean that you cannot shut out the voices from within your own community that you do not wish to hear. Respect and tolerance for cultural and political diversity is universal. And finally politics is not just talk. By that I mean you have to engage physically and intellectually in activities that should provide visible improvement in lives of your community members.

Kashmiri Pandits, much like Indian and Pakistani areas of Jammu and Kashmir State, are divided physically and intellectually into two broad groups. The dividing line for Pandits is not the Line of Control (LOC), but the Jawahar Tunnel. Those displaced from the valley and living in the Jammu region and South of the J&K State have evolved differently from Pandits who are displaced within the valley but have not left their homeland. This is a historical problem that is reinforced every time a major exodus of Pandits takes place from the valley. There is however an opportunity to shift that paradigm if displaced Pandits in Jammu and elsewhere outside the State are ready to move away from the "politics-as-usual" attitude and get into serious political engagement starting with a renaissance from within.

Today the community has very little political clout and that is not simply because of numbers. In fact our relatively small population has made our problems seem less serious than they actually are.
The first challenge that we face collectively is restoring credibility. From J&K government to the Indian government to other favorably inclined countries towards Pandits, almost everyone believes that most displaced have put down firm roots wherever they have settled (after all it is the 16 th year of exile) and will not be making the valley their principal residence again even if geo-political conditions in the region improve dramatically. One can argue with this conclusion, but historically this is exactly what has happened in the past. Pandits that fled the valley in the past rarely, if ever, returned in large numbers.

So the first act of political maturity would be to recognize (in principle if not universally) that some Pandits may return to the valley under certain conditions, whereas many others will not. Recognition of this fact helps two ways – first, it reflects on true state of our community, implying in effect that there is more to our demands than just continuing financial payoffs. Second, it shifts the focus of the debate from a self-serving demand to a community demand. I hope that some courageous Pandit refugees would say with pride that "while I am not personally wishing to be rehabilitated back in the valley, I am nevertheless committed to seeing that those refugees wishing to return do so with dignity and in safety." My point is that our demands generally lack a concern for the future of our community and have degenerated into a recipe for near-term gains that pose a great threat to our long-term strategic interests.

The second challenge that the community in Jammu faces is setting up a proper platform in developing ideas, policies and plans consistent with wishes of the broadest spectrum of our people. Individuals do not influence policy, communities do. What a gathering of 100 can achieve politically is lot more significant than what ten groups consisting of 10 individuals raising similar slogans. Similarly a group of 1000 can achieve politically is more than a million times more substantial than what a group of 100 can ever hope for. This is not just unity but unity in diversity. But such organizations are not created overnight. Organizations that wish to serve politically must first establish their legitimacy. That means developing an organization with a proper constitution, by-laws, paid membership, elections, term-limited officers, intensive public outreach to register maximum numbers and a selfless dedication to serve the community. Whether our community realizes it or not, development of such organizations are carefully noted by governing authorities who will provide proper forum for cross-communication and dialogue with our leaders provided these are representatives of genuine democratically constituted organizations.  That is why Kashmiri Pandits have not been able to exercise their rights as a political entity on their own until now and have usually relied on various state and national political parties to carry their messages. The down-side has been that none of the established political parties have made our concerns and issues as their highest priority. So a unique opportunity exists for a Pandit organization to pioneer such an advocacy program within the contours of Indian polity.

The third challenge that our community faces is overcoming a lack of understanding of political processes in democracies in general and India, in particular. India is unique because it has the "highest elasticity" in accepting the most divergent of views of nationalism and national interest under its tent. This fact has escaped most Pandit strategists who spend an extra-ordinary amount of time and effort in pontificating ills of the "soft state", rather than be creative in developing political strategies and approaches in tune with the reality of India. Let me assure you that the Delhi government does not need lessons in how to "save" this country, and we need to instead focus on solutions to our community problems that are grounded on realistic assumptions.

An important element of exercising politics in a democracy is interaction with authorities, colleagues, adversaries and other stake-holders that individually or jointly can affect the well being and the future of the community. This interaction (on both sides) has to be respectable, free from coercion or threats, and without violence. The dialogue is to politics what the education is to a university. Without one, the other is rendered meaningless. So holding a dialogue, whether with political friends or foes, is essential to conducting politics. That much is simple. What is much more complex is the quality of dialogue which directly affects the outcome. For example, the recent "meet and greet" events in Jammu between Pandits and Hurriyat became meaningless after the first couple of such interactions. Any dialogue must have a well defined objective and a structured road-map. Without that it is simply a social gathering of diminishing returns.

The final, and the most important, challenge is developing political messages that promote the "maximum good" for the community and hence be acceptable to the broadest spectrum of our community. Such messages and/or postures will be effective ( i.e., taken seriously by various stake-holders) only if these are based on political strategies that can offer "something to everybody" and thereby create the path for a meaningful dialogue with parties whose cooperation is necessary to achieve our demands. In our case, there is also a clear and necessary burden to ensure that political messages are not detrimental to the Pandits living in the valley today.

Those Pandits who are determined to return and rehabilitate in the valley must first ensure that the state government, and by inference the majority Kashmiri Muslim community, is willing to accept adjustments in political and economic space for Pandits to live as equals in the valley. The first and the most important test of that goodwill will be through marked improvement in the lives of Pandits living in the valley today, and by state government's willingness to introduce legislative, administrative and societal changes to ensure that Pandits – those in the valley and others willing to return - thrive through generations. That my friends is the confidence building measure (CBM) that should guide all those seriously contemplating return to our homeland.

In summary, the time is ripe for the Pandit community to break away from the past and pursue a serious political advocacy campaign for the return and rehabilitation of Pandit refugees. However, the first test of government's good faith will come through the welfare of Pandits currently living in the valley. So before displaced Pandit refugees make demands of their own, they must first demand an improvement in the lives of valley Pandits as the CBM for the rest to follow.

In closing, I wish the Kashmir Secular Alliance (KSA) success in their endeavor to be the beacon of light for a new beginning in the political empowerment of Kashmiri Pandits.

Thank you.

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 11 September 2010 03:22
 
Intra-Community CBMs and the Rehabilitation of the Kashmiri Pandits PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Rahul Pandit   
Friday, 07 April 2006 00:00

Text of speech delivered at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), India Initiative 2006 Conference. Speech was part of a panel discussion on Kashmir, also featuring Hassan Abbas, Salman Haider, and Daisy Khan, moderated by Joydeep Mukherjee, and followed by Q & A session.

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 September 2010 21:07
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Danish Cartoons, Not the Plight of the KPs, Incites Condemnation by J&K Assembly PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Rahul Pandit   
Friday, 03 March 2006 00:00

In 'secular' India, it is more difficult to stand up for the rights of minority Hindus in Kashmir than to join the public outcry against the Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammed.

In light of recent turmoil in India and around the world about the Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, politicians in India are eager to join the public foray and denounce these cartoons as blasphemous. In the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the only Muslim majority state in India, the calls for condemnation of the West are enormous.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 September 2010 04:14
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Beyond White Noise PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Vijay K. Sazawal   
Friday, 17 February 2006 00:00

The Mirwaiz had publicly sought the return of the Pandits to the valley. But "meet and greet" functions do not a political dialogue make. The road map and benefits of such a dialogue need to be defined properly.

When I heard about the rampage in the Srinagar press room of the newspaper Greater Kashmir (GK) by principal functionaries of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Forum in the afternoon of February 9th, I found myself muttering: "Javed Nalka is smarter than I thought. After all he got himself in the news one way or the other." So I was keen to see how the aggrieved party will report the news the following day.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 September 2010 03:51
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