The Truth About Human Rights In Kashmir Print
Written by Francois Gautier   
Thursday, 17 February 1994 00:00
[From award-winning journalist and author Francois Gautier]. When Ms. Benazir Bhutto thunders in Geneva on the Human Rights abuses in Kashmir, comparing the plight of the Kashmiris with "the genocide of the Jews by the Nazis", when Amnesty International lambastes India for "its iron hand in the Valley," when the United States, courtesy Ms. Robin Raphel, compares the situation in Kashmir "to the one in Afghanistan," they all are doing a grave injustice to a great country.

For not only have Indians never been Nazis in their entire history, India's record in Human Rights, even if not unblemished, is infinitely better than some of its neighbors, such as Afghanistan or Pakistan. As far as Kashmir is concerned, Kashmiri Hindus have suffered far more from human rights abuses than their Muslim brothers. Indeed, everybody seems to forget that not so long ago, the whole of Kashmir was Hindu and Buddhist. The Kashmiri Pandits have records of 5,000 years of existence in Kashmir. That many of Kashmir's inhabitants were later forcibly or otherwise converted by Muslim invaders is a historical fact; so be it, one cannot rewrite history. But what of the remaining Kashmiri Hindus?

In 1941, according to census figures, there were 15 per cent Hindus in the Kashmir valley; in 1981, 5 per cent; in 1991, 0.1 per cent. And today? 99.9 per cent of the Hindu population has fled the Valley under terror and pressure tactics. There are today 350,000 Kashmiri Pandits living in abysmal conditions in refugee camps in Delhi and Jammu? How many people abroad, even in India know of the horrors they lived through: the midnight knocks, the stories of the men shot, strangled, kidnapped? 1,200 of them have been brutally assassinated in the past five years; 1,600 of their houses destroyed. Does any one mention that these people are refugees in their own homelands, living on government dole of Rupees. 1,500 a month, that they have left everything behind them: property, houses, land? Yet, Ms. Bhutto's intense media campaign on human rights in the Valley is successfully taking root. Why is it that a people who have throughout their history shown unparalleled tolerance in accepting other's creeds in their fold, whether Christianity, Islam or Buddhism, even recognizing their divinity, who have never tried to convert anybody to their religion, are seen today as communalism, intolerant, Nazi even? Why this great injustice, this unbelievable scam, which Pakistan and the Kashmiri militants are using to the hilt?

The first culprits are sections of the Indian intelligentsia, journalists, writers, artists, bureaucrats. They shape the minds of foreign journalists and western diplomats, who from day one of their posting, turn towards them for their information and the making of their opinion about India. In turn, these journalists write harsh articles on the Indian scene and the diplomats send adverse reports to their governments. But do these sections of the Indian elite release that they are part of a colonial legacy left by the British, who trained a subservient Indian westernized minority to serve their purposes? That they are only expressing an immense inferiority complex vis-a-vis the West, always judging by western standards, which are totally unsuited to the Indian conditions and psyche, forgetting that their forefathers had devised more than 4,000 years ago a great culture- social, artistic and political- when Europeans were still living in their caves?

The sad truth is that India is on the defensive in the propaganda war in Kashmir. But Indians are a highly intelligent race. Why don't they point out that the United States, the greatest proponent of human rights in the world, the one who is accusing India of unleashing a reign of terror in Kashmir, is the highest investor in China, conveniently forgetting that the Chinese suppressed Tibetans in Tibet. The United States also conveniently forgets that China has been for the past 40 years- and is still today- a communist dictatorship, whatever the economic liberalization's. Now, compare Tibet and China with Kashmir and India: in Kashmir, since in- dependence, the Indian government forbade non-Kashmiri Indians to acquire property in the Valley, so that the Kashmiris would not feel threatened. It pumped millions of rupees in the Valley, making it the most sought after tourist gateway; indeed many Kashmiris turned rich on tourism.

If to retain the Falkland islands, thousands of miles away from Great Britain, the English fought a war and killed innocent Argentinians in the process, if the United States can invade Panama because it feels its interests are threatened there, if France battles to keep Corsica in its fold, an is- land which could as well belong to Italy, why should not India retain what has been hers for 5,000 years? The Indian Army is fighting a war in Kashmir, not a tea party: casualties are bound to happen and the soldiers, after having been shot at a thousand times will retaliate once, sooner or later, in a fit of uncontrolled violence. So what?

The world did not shed a single tear when the FBI went with armored cars and flame throwers against innocent women, children and men armed with a few pistols in Waco, Texas, killing twenty people. Let India stand up and take no nonsense from the world. Theirs is one of the oldest and proudest civilizations of this earth and they have nothing to be ashamed of. Let Kashmir be reunited again, whether by force or by a peaceful agreement between India and Pakistan, so that the Kashmiri Pandits, whose homeland it has been for 5,000 years, can return to their beloved Valley in peace.

For not only have Indians never been Nazis in their entire history, India's record in Human Rights, even if not unblemished, is infinitely better than some of its neighbors, such as Afghanistan or Pakistan. As far as Kashmir is concerned, Kashmiri Hindus have suffered far more from human rights abuses than their Muslim brothers. Indeed, everybody seems to forget that not so long ago, the whole of Kashmir was Hindu and Buddhist. The Kashmiri Pandits have records of 5,000 years of existence in Kashmir. That many of Kashmir's inhabitants were later forcibly or otherwise converted by Muslim invaders is a historical fact; so be it, one cannot rewrite history. But what of the remaining Kashmiri Hindus?

In 1941, according to census figures, there were 15 per cent Hindus in the Kashmir valley; in 1981, 5 per cent; in 1991, 0.1 per cent. And today? 99.9 per cent of the Hindu population has fled the Valley under terror and pressure tactics. There are today 350,000 Kashmiri Pandits living in abysmal conditions in refugee camps in Delhi and Jammu? How many people abroad, even in India know of the horrors they lived through: the midnight knocks, the stories of the men shot, strangled, kidnapped? 1,200 of them have been brutally assassinated in the past five years; 1,600 of their houses destroyed. Does any one mention that these people are refugees in their own homelands, living on government dole of Rupees. 1,500 a month, that they have left everything behind them: property, houses, land? Yet, Ms. Bhutto's intense media campaign on human rights in the Valley is successfully taking root. Why is it that a people who have throughout their history shown unparalleled tolerance in accepting other's creeds in their fold, whether Christianity, Islam or Buddhism, even recognizing their divinity, who have never tried to convert anybody to their religion, are seen today as communalism, intolerant, Nazi even? Why this great injustice, this unbelievable scam, which Pakistan and the Kashmiri militants are using to the hilt?

The first culprits are sections of the Indian intelligentsia, journalists, writers, artists, bureaucrats. They shape the minds of foreign journalists and western diplomats, who from day one of their posting, turn towards them for their information and the making of their opinion about India. In turn, these journalists write harsh articles on the Indian scene and the diplomats send adverse reports to their governments. But do these sections of the Indian elite release that they are part of a colonial legacy left by the British, who trained a subservient Indian westernized minority to serve their purposes? That they are only expressing an immense inferiority complex vis-a-vis the West, always judging by western standards, which are totally unsuited to the Indian conditions and psyche, forgetting that their forefathers had devised more than 4,000 years ago a great culture- social, artistic and political- when Europeans were still living in their caves?

The sad truth is that India is on the defensive in the propaganda war in Kashmir. But Indians are a highly intelligent race. Why don't they point out that the United States, the greatest proponent of human rights in the world, the one who is accusing India of unleashing a reign of terror in Kashmir, is the highest investor in China, conveniently forgetting that the Chinese suppressed Tibetans in Tibet. The United States also conveniently forgets that China has been for the past 40 years- and is still today- a communist dictatorship, whatever the economic liberalization's. Now, compare Tibet and China with Kashmir and India: in Kashmir, since in- dependence, the Indian government forbade non-Kashmiri Indians to acquire property in the Valley, so that the Kashmiris would not feel threatened. It pumped millions of rupees in the Valley, making it the most sought after tourist gateway; indeed many Kashmiris turned rich on tourism.

If to retain the Falkland islands, thousands of miles away from Great Britain, the English fought a war and killed innocent Argentinians in the process, if the United States can invade Panama because it feels its interests are threatened there, if France battles to keep Corsica in its fold, an is- land which could as well belong to Italy, why should not India retain what has been hers for 5,000 years? The Indian Army is fighting a war in Kashmir, not a tea party: casualties are bound to happen and the soldiers, after having been shot at a thousand times will retaliate once, sooner or later, in a fit of uncontrolled violence. So what?

The world did not shed a single tear when the FBI went with armored cars and flame throwers against innocent women, children and men armed with a few pistols in Waco, Texas, killing twenty people. Let India stand up and take no nonsense from the world. Theirs is one of the oldest and proudest civilizations of this earth and they have nothing to be ashamed of. Let Kashmir be reunited again, whether by force or by a peaceful agreement between India and Pakistan, so that the Kashmiri Pandits, whose homeland it has been for 5,000 years, can return to their beloved Valley in peace.

Last Updated on Saturday, 18 September 2010 05:22