Pandits Invited To Participate In Human Rights Commission Proceedings On Minorities Print
Friday, 30 May 1997 00:00

The working group chair, Prof. Eide of Norway, had expressed personal appreciation for the numerous thematic interventions and positive contributions to the proceedings of the second session by the indigenous Kashmiri delegates in 1996. As a result of these contributions, these Kashmiri fora were once again invited to participate in the third session of the working group in order to share their experiences as a bonafide ethnic minority in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The indigenous Kashmiri delegates, Dr. Ashok Koul of Canada and Mr. Autar Tikou of Geneva, once again made strong presentations about the gradual erosion of fundamental human rights of Kashmiri Hindus at the hands of successive Muslim governments since India's independence which eventually paved the way for their forced eviction in 1989/90. The Kashmiri delegates described various forms of institutionalized discrimination they had faced in the last fifty years including gerrymandering of electoral boundaries and fudging of census figures. The successive Muslim governments had used these mechanisms to manipulate the representation of the valley Hindus in the legislature and limit their numbers in government jobs and educational institutions. The delegates also talked about fundamentalist as well as opportunistic tendencies of the Muslim majority in the valley as a result of which they had gradually lost their properties, places of worship and businesses since 1947. The delegates argued that creation of a safe haven in the valley was the only way the indigineous Kashmiris could immediately return to their homeland with dignity and honour and exercise their civil as well as political rights. They also pointed out the archaic nature of the Article 370 of the Indian constitution because it was responsible for the exclusion of J&K from the perview of the Minority Rights Commission of India and did not permit the protection of the Minority Rights in the sate. The Indian expert, Justice Sardar Ali Khan refused to comment on the archaic nature of Article 370 from a human rights perspective.

The Kashmiri Hindu delegates requested the working group to conduct a case study on the gradual abuse of their human rights and their eventual displacement from their homeland in order to develop a clear understanding of the possible prevention and early warning mechanisms with regard to internal displacement. The working group chair conceded in private discussions that internal displacement and minority rights were often interlinked since it was usually the minority which got displaced in a majority-minority conflict.

Dr. Ashok Koul
Mr. Autar TikoO

Indo-European Kashmir Forum
3B Ch. du Petit-Pont,
1253 Vandoeuvres, Geneva

Commission on Human Rights,
Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities
Inter-sessional Working Group on Minorities
Third Session
26 April - 30 May 1997

Dr Ashok Koul, 30 May 1997

Item 3c (10) Recommending further measures as appropriate for the promotion and protection of the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minoroties.

Mr. Chairman,

The cultural and/or political aspirations of the three basic types of minorities , i.e. ethnic, religious or linguistic, will be strongly influenced by the fact whether the minority is dispersed or concentrated or whether the minority is displaced from its original habitat. These aspirations will further be influenced by the overall political system and structure of the country where the minority lives and this in itself may vary from one country to another. Given these possible combinations of various minority situations, the working group may find it useful and perhaps necessary to conduct a number of case studies in the future in order to make specific recommendations on the promotion and protection of minority rights in different parts of the world.

Mr. Chairman the Kashmiri Pandit community could serve as an ideal candidate for a case study on an internally displaced minority. As Pandits, we have clearly documented the deliberate but gradual erosion of our fundamental rights, administrative as well as religious persecution and economic coersion at the hands of Muslim majority governments in the last fifty years which eventually led to the final episode of ethnic cleansing in 1990. Our documented experience could provide the working group with a clear understanding of possible prevention and early warning mechanisms in a majority-minority conflict. Mr. Chairman, our organizations would be glad to co-operate with the working group in a case study of this nature.

Thank you.

Commission on Human Rights,
Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities Inter-sessional Working Group on Minorities
Third Session
26 April - 30 May 1997

Dr Ashok Koul,
30 May 1997

Item 3b Examining possible solutions to problems involving minorities including the promotion of mutual understanding between and among minorities and Governments

item 9(f)

Mr. Chairman, with regard to the role of media, it was recognized in the proceedings of the second working group meeting that the mass media could play either a positive or a negative role in shaping opinions about cultural and political problems and aspirations of a minority depending on who controls the media.We would like to add that a small minority invariably neither possesses the logistical support nor the necessary resources to challenge a disinformation campaign waged against it either by the majority or by the state. For example, when Kashmiri Pandit minority was ethnically cleansed out of Kashmir valley in 1990, the Indian mass media described them as Kashmiri migrants rather than internally displaced persons implying that we had left the valley out of our own free will. Whatever the political compulsions of the Indian media to dub us as migrants, we continue to fight this discrepency even today after over seven years in forced exile. In our opinion Mr. Chairman, the material submitted by the affected minority to the UNHRC should thus form the basis of its recommendations. Of course, this does not preclude other independent NGO sources from providing information to the UNHRC.

Thank you.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 September 2010 03:43