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The 1952 Delhi Agreement : Myth and Reality PDF Print E-mail
Written by Hari Om   
Tuesday, 01 August 2000 00:00
Speak a lie a hundred times and it becomes a truth. It has actually happened in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). The State Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) President, Dr Farooq Abdullah, and his close lieutenants wanted us and the media, both print and electronic, to believe in something which did not really exist. And, they have succeeded.  

This is evident from the scores of political commentaries, including that of the former J&K Governor Mr Jagmohan (The Times of India, July 11,2000), and reports which appeared after June 19 in several leading national dailies and magazines of repute, as also from a number of TV programs.

Last Updated on Saturday, 11 September 2010 01:31
The Pariah Called Panun Kashmir PDF Print E-mail
Written by K. N. Pandita   
Saturday, 01 July 2000 00:00
For political parties in Kashmir, without an exception, Panun Kashmir is a pariah.

Most of them become hysterical on hearing its name. A grin is flashed across when its mention occurs directly or indirectly in an odd seminar or symposium. An impression is created that talking of Panun Kashmir is talking about the wildest of crimes and calumnies.

Last Updated on Saturday, 11 September 2010 02:25
Low Birth And High Mortality Rates Ensures That Kashmiri Pandits Are A Vanishing PDF Print E-mail
Written by UNI   
Sunday, 25 June 2000 00:00


The population of Kashmiri pandits has considerably declined during the past seven years after their migration from the valley in 1990 and is further decreasing because of low birth and high mortality rates.

Inquiries at various migrant camps at Jammu and Delhi revealed there had been only 16 births compared to 49 deaths in about 300 families between 1990 and 1995 when militancy was at its peak. The deaths were mostly of people in the 20 to 45 age group.

The causes for the low birth rates were mainly premature menopause in women, hypo-function of the reproductive system and lack of adequate accommodation and privacy. Of the 100 women interviewed, 13 said they had reached menopause by 35 years of age and 30 women said they had reached menopause by 45 years.

According to a report which has been submitted to the National Human Rights Organisation, there is a serious erosion in sexual functioning of the Kashmiri pandits living in various migrant camps. ''A fall in birth rate is a natural consequence.''

According to Dr K L Choudhary, a physician, Kashmiri pandits have been suffering from premature aging (visual and hearing problems related to age), premature locomotor system abnormalities (stiff joints and bent backs), premature decline in mental faculties and premature death.

Dr Choudhary, who has been treating various Kashmiri pandit patients, said in a paper that they (the pandits) had aged physically and mentally by 10 to 15 years. He feared that at this rate Kashmiri pandits might face ''extinction''.

According to the report, a number of psychological and behavioural problems had cropped up among the pandits. While a majority of them showed transitory and situational maladjustment problems, several others had more acute neurotic symptoms.

Most of the Kashmiri pandit youth were without jobs and homes which forced them to delay marriage or even reproduction. About 50 Kashmiri pandit youth in the age group of 25 to 30 years when interviewed said they preferred to wait another five years or more till they got a job or at least a home.

A visit to Muthi camp, on the outskirts of Jammu where most of the Kashmiri pandits stayed after migration from the valley, revealed that a single room was shared by three generations. In certain cases at other places, six families lived in a hall separated by partitions of blankets or bedsheets.

Many young married couples said they preferred to delay having a child or not having one at all. ''Where is the money for his (the child's) education and clothing?'' said Ashok Kaul who was married five years back and is without a child.

Another Kashmiri youth Alok Gurtu, staying at Muthi camp, said he preferred to remain single since he neither had a job nor a place to stay. ''For how long can I live on government doles? Do you think I can maintain a family on Rs 1,500 that the government is giving?'' asked Gurtu who turned 36 last month.

Many young couples, Dr Choudhary said, opt for contraceptives; if they conceive, they go in for termination of pregnancy. Many people in the 40 to 45 age group complained of infertility. Many young couples said they had no ''desire'' left.

Dr Choudhary said there has been a high incidence of menopause between the ages of 35 to 40; the average age of menopause is between 50 and 52 years.

Many camp residents reported forced separations. While the husband is forced to look for a job in some other city, his wife remains in the camp looking after his parents.

There is also a growing incidence of divorce among young couples because of stress. Either the husband has become short-tempered or the wife finds it difficult to adjust to the difficult conditions, blaming it on her husband.

Many parents complain that patience has become rare among their children. ''While they (the husband and wife) fight we look on helplessly.''

The problems are compounded by the poor education system for the migrants. Results are not declared even after six months in many cases. Sometimes the gap between two exam papers is months. '' The literacy rate among Kashmiri pandits has declined by 20 per cent during the past seven years,'' said Ashwini Kumar, convenor of the Panun Kashmir Movement, an organisation of Kashmiri pandits in exile.

Last Updated on Saturday, 18 September 2010 05:18
The Fifth Column PDF Print E-mail
Written by Varsha Bhosle   
Monday, 01 November 1999 00:00


Indian society has become so sick that most people see nothing amiss when a woman, with the clear intent of securing the premiership of the country, attempts to wrench public sympathy on the basis of her being a widow. Main vidhwa hoon... How many times has this been announced at rallies over the last two years...? And yet, except for Balasaheb -- "How can I trounce her? I can't go around the country declaring, Main randwa hoon" -- no one took the Shroud's oh-so-forlorn disclosure as a pointer to her mental makeup. I wonder why...

Honourable women, self-respecting women, are a different breed. They'd never dream of heating the roti of compassion on their husbands' funeral pyres. Compassion is condescending, it borders on pity, and real women loathe being pitied. Which is why I'm about to transgress all mores of confidentiality. But I don't really care, for it has to be done: You must know what the people on the khaki side undergo. You must know the stress army wives shoulder. You must know how it feels when premature death is a probability and not an accident. You must know the stuff real women are made of...

Following is an extract from a personal message I received just after my last column was posted. She's a friend, the wife of an army officer stationed in Badami Bagh cantonment. I withhold her name as I do not have her permission to reveal it. But, more significantly, I do not have her permission to publish the extract, either...

"I've been back in Delhi for the last week and the festive Diwali atmosphere here seemed so unreal, and now this. I got to know immediately after it happened. It has been heart wrenching. I got no news of my husband till this afternoon. I was looking forward to seeing him on two-days leave for Diwali since it also happens to be our wedding anniversary but now I can't afford the luxury of even feeling sorry for myself. Civilian society is by and large insensitive to our realities -- how long is society going to remain so insulated?

"Yesterday morning, Purushottam was in my husband's office, talking about his wife who is a nursing officer, posted in Meerut. He looked forward to seeing her soon. Isn't it poignant? Do you know, the moment it happened, the three journalists, reported missing in most newspapers, were with him, and for their safety, he hid them in the adjoining bathroom while he himself went out to face the attackers?

"You know, the single-most bravest act that most of us wives have to do is send these men uncomplainingly, with a smile. Today when I complained to my husband about not seeing him, he said, 'please don't make it more difficult for me!' Then who do I cry to, Varsha -- what is my sorrow supposed to consist of? Our brave facade hides hurt and traumatised insides -- especially since most of us feel that no one cares and whom are they dying for anyway. Sorry for all this but I am feeling too down and out to care. More in better times..."

Now think of Major Vatsa and her eight-year-old daughter Pallavi. Vatsa is not yet 40. Nor was her late husband, Major Pramod Purushottam...

There will be many more Vatsas in the times to come. Their transmogrification to vidhwa will not abate till we realise the importance of national security, which is threatened not just along the LoC, nor just by foreign invaders and domestic separatists. It is more under threat by our collective ignorance and indifference to the needs of our security forces. It's endangered by our inability to think beyond the concepts of "prosperity" and "happiness." It is threatened each time politicians, bureaucrats and newspersons prostitute themselves for their personal agendas. But it is most at peril when the lives of our soldiers and the reputation of our armed forces are held in contempt: That "most of us feel that no one cares and whom are they dying for anyway," is a frightening thing to hear. It says: little morale.

It's my belief that most of the secular janata has unwittingly been brainwashed by the Leftists into becoming a fifth column (OED: a group working for an enemy within a country at war). As much as I detest the present Kaangres Paarti, I still won't impute this sedition to its tradition. Never mind his later mulishness, Gandhiji was against Partition, and if not for the hunger and ego of that fountainhead of The Dynasty, India, with Jinnah as PM, could have been akhand. Yes, the Congress is responsible for gifting away large tracts of Kashmir. Yes, it's accountable for the altered demography of the NE and the resulting harm to national security. But, even the Congress will oppose any step towards the outright balkanisation of India (or so I hope).

Woefully, what's been hammered into the ordinary secular folks, those who claim to be Gandhiwadis and who aren't Marxists, is the idea that a nation is not based on its geography but only on its people -- and hence the ascendancy of the Happiness & Prosperity principle. Thus, if the Hurriyat is unhappy -- cede J&K, Nagaland wants independence -- grant it, ULFA wants Assam -- give it, and so on. What percentage of the people of such states supports radical demands, is immaterial: A few localised and biased "reports" by Ye Seekers of the Truth suffice as evidence of a snowballing trend.

Yes, Jews are a nation, Palestinians are a nation, American Indians are a nation. But, they are acknowledged as such because they fought, and continue to fight, for land they always considered their own. A "nation" is inseparable from its primeval and psychological territory -- the land of its ancestry. Therefore, no matter WHAT the pinkos preach, the Madrasi, the Ghati, the Naga -- of whichever religion -- will rise to defend that part of India known as Kashmir. In his mind, India has an unalterable shape, and he will die maintaining it. The threat to security is not from a fundie Balasaheb, who sends his men ("goons," in secular parlance) to face the JKLF threatening to cross the LoC. The danger is from a secularist Saifuddin Soz who takes a remarkably long time to divulge if he's an Indian or a Kashmiri primarily...

The crux is: are only Muslim Kashmiris a nation...? What about Kashmir's Buddhists and Hindus...? Prof Subhash Kak, babe-magnet, poet, Kashmiri, author of books like The Nature of Physical Reality and The Astronomical Code of the Rigveda, and of articles on neural networks, quantum computing and history of science, fortunately used uncharacteristically simple terms to explain the situation to me:

"By the 1941 census, the population of Hindus in the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir was 15%. The population of the Kashmiri Pandits in the valley was only about 4 to 5%, and it remained so until the exodus of 1989. Hindus in the Jammu province, after the occupation of a part of it by Pakistan in 1948, have become a 67% majority. Given the entire state, Muslims are now about a 65% majority. Kashmir valley is about 16% of the area of J&K; it is only about 7% of the original J&K state, 35% of which is now occupied by Pakistan, and 17% occupied by China. Kashmir is the only region of the three (Kashmir, Jammu, Ladakh) that has a Muslim majority.

"Ethnically, Kashmiri Muslims are different from the Muslims residing in Jammu and Ladakh divisions. The population of the Kashmir valley is just over half of the population of J&K... Even if all the Kashmiri Muslims should demand freedom (and this is certainly not true as evidenced by many Muslims that have fled the valley), the question arises whether a region one-sixth of the total area of the state, and just half the population, should be allowed to force its choice on the remaining five-sixth of the state.

"To see this problem in the American context, would it be right for the entire state of Michigan to be granted independence if the African-Americans of the greater Detroit region should agitate for it? Or, should just Detroit be granted independence if the African-Americans of the city start a violent campaign for it? If one should argue that Detroit is isolated from other African-American communities, unlike Kashmir which has Islamic Pakistan next to it, then one can furnish the example of the Miami region. Would it be appropriate for the US to grant independence to Miami, or allow it to become a part of a greater Cuba, just because it has a Hispanic majority?"

So I come to the raison d'etre of this outpouring -- the army and the electorate in Kashmir. The army should, ideally, not be unleashed in civilian space. But for reasons which fill several bookshelves, it's become *the* force in J&K. Like the paramilitary in Bihar and elsewhere, the army oversees the law and order situation during elections in the state. Its single-point machinery drives the people -- in jeeps, too, BTW -- to polling booths. The very same people who are threatened by militants to register their votes on pain of death. The machinery ensures that the people reach the booths. But, it does not stamp the ballot papers for them. Then, HOW is democracy slaughtered by the army?? If you ask me, I'd set the army -- not with long sticks, but guns -- upon the sheep of Delhi and Bombay, too!

I was tickled pink by last week's mail. You see, when fundies agonise over a murder, it's an "emotional disorder." But when Ye Infallible Seekers indulge in base histrionics, it's "facts as they are." Some facts: "election at gunpoint... I have seen animals being led like this, but this is the first time I witness the same treatment being meted out to humans. Someone, you see, some bigshot authority wants to show the world that Kashmir polled decently... And the sheep being led to the vote..." Apart from that every incident is couched in volatile terminology, our Kashmir specialist needs to become our Bihar or Naxal specialist so he's aware of electoral conditions in jeopardized areas!

"They are the first of the numerous people who stop my vehicle to complain about how security personnel are forcing them to vote. All are ex-militants... 'Their officer told us they would give us time till 1030 and if the people don't vote then, they would come and drag them out. They said that they would come in the night to check and if we didn't have the ink mark on our finger they would beat us'. " Ex-militants who still don' wanna vote. Do you get it...? Whose case is going to be put forth next for our compassion? bin Laden's?? The Lashkar's???

Then, "Baramulla town, which is observing a near-hundred per cent hartal in protest against the poll." Hartal called by whom? Juxtaposed with Prof Kak's stats, what is Baramulla in relation to J&K? Subhash adds, "The campaign by the militants in Kashmir is a fundamentalist Islamic movement that has been ruthless in killing off members of the minority communities in a random fashion. As a result, more than 250,000 Kashmiri Hindus and Sikhs have been forced to take refuge out of the valley. Is not terrorism against unarmed civilians a crime against humanity? Had the movement been a genuine freedom movement, it would have sought to associate all Kashmiris, irrespective of their religions, in a political dialogue with the GoI."

And yet: "Hum kya chahte? / Azaadi... 'Tell the Indians through your paper that we do not want to be part of India, it is security people like this who make us hate India'." What is the army up against? What's the situation in all of J&K? How many people want azaadi? WHAT is the case of the article...? What should a normal Indian's reaction be??

Answer, from a Major: "People may say anything... I am an Indian. Be an Indian." Bravo! There are no two ways -- you either hold India sacred, or you don't. Even an Indira in-Opposition would never have created a situation where PTV could use her speeches as anti-India propaganda, and that's what makes her "Mrs G" for me. It's incumbent upon all Indians to keep that covenant with the motherland. And that's the difference between a fundie column and the fifth column...

Last Updated on Saturday, 18 September 2010 05:20
A Warped Indian Media? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Francois Gautier   
Friday, 26 February 1999 00:00
[From award-winning journalist and author Francois Gautier]. While there is no doubt that the ghastly murder of Graham Stewart Staines, the Australian missionary, and his two innocent sons, should be universally condemned and that the culprits should be severely punished, the massive outcry it has evoked in the Indian Press raises several important questions, ... any Indian who would dare utter the following statements would immediately be identified with the Sangh parivar.Is the life of a white man more important and dear to the Indian media than the lives of a hundred Indians? Or to put it differently: Is the life of a Christian more sacred than the lives of many Hindus? It would seem so.

Last Updated on Saturday, 18 September 2010 05:21
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