AIKS Address at Prime Minister's Round Table on Jammu & Kashmir Print
Written by M. K. Kaw   
Saturday, 25 February 2006 00:00

This underlines one of the basic problems in a soft democracy like ours. Moderate elements like us tend to be taken for granted, while people with extremist agendas are given importance out of all proportion to the percentage of people who subscribe to their point of view. As this policy becomes clear, newer and newer groups with more and more extremist agendas emerge. Thus, in its anxiety to assuage supposed dissatisfaction, the Central Govt's policies themselves promote extremist political ideologies.

I represent the All India Kashmiri Samaj, the major moderate, mainstream organization of Kashmiri Pandits.It is an elected body with more than sixty affiliates, spread over the State of J&K, the rest of India and, in fact, the whole world.

This is a meeting without any specific agenda items. I take it that this is considered to be only a curtain raiser and it is the first of several such Round Tables, and the Prime Minister has come to the meeting with no fixed notions. It, therefore, devolves on the participants to set the agenda.

The first desideratum is to read the current situation rightly, otherwise the Centre's policies will continue to be out of sync with the ground realities. Today, politics has given way to economics. The bulk of the majority community is not for militancy in valley and is sick and tired of the politics of the bullet. They want educational and health services, jobs and vocations, economic activities, tourism and a bright future for their children. The situation is reminiscent of Punjab after Operation Black Thunder. The man in the street craves for peace. He has realized how he will be treated in Pakistan. He no longer sees the terrorist as a friend. He has given up the pipe dream of Azadi.

The Kashmiri Pandit is waiting in Jammu, Udhampur, Nagrota, Delhi, Chandigarh or wherever he has a temporary shelter. He is also waiting for peace to return to the valley. For all the slogans and press statements, all the half-hearted attempts to woo him back into the valley, the Pandit will never return unless he is satisfied that he and his family are going to be safe and secure there.

Therefore, if there is one overarching policy imperative that the Centre has to pursue, it should be the return of peace to the valley. It is our considered view that peace cannot return unless we are tough with Pakistan. Today, we are trying to use the US to armtwist them. This strategy will not work, because the US is not in the business of philanthropy. The terrorists must be dealt with an iron hand. We should implement the doctrine of hot pursuit. We should give Pakistan an ultimatum about the training camps. If they do not comply, we should not desist from destroying these camps.

Let us be clear in our minds. Unless we are tough with Pakistan , peace will never, never return to the valley and the Pandits can never go back.

This does not mean that we should not pursue the peace process with Pakistan . We should continue to widen our contacts at all levels. We should have more people-to-people dialogues. We should broaden our trade and commerce, sports and cultural exchanges. We should make it clear that we have no desire to disintegrate their country.

Coming to the second most disturbing trend in current policies of the Central Government, somehow an impression has been allowed to gain ground that India is looking for a viable option regarding the constitutional position of J&K State. All kinds of kinky solutions are being freely bandied about. It could be like Switzerland , it could be a joint protectorate, it could be granted autonomy or self-rule, we could revert back to pre-1953 status and so on and so forth.

The Indian Parliament has passed a unanimous resolution on what India 's stand on Kashmir should be. Kashmir is and shall ever remain an integral part of India. India should make all attempts to regain control over those portions of J&K that have been illegally annexed by Pakistan and China. I am afraid that the present Government has no mandate from Parliament to talk of any other option. There cannot be secretive parleys on this important subject. We must take the nation into confidence.

On behalf of Kashmiri Pandits, I want to place on record our firm view that all the solutions being talked about are unacceptable to us. We feel that it is only because of the Supreme Court of India that we are able to get any justice at all. Fair elections are being held only because the writ of the Election Commission of India runs there. Despite the CAG's control, J&K is one of the most corrupt States in the country. One shudders to think of what will happen if that control is removed.

We would like the PM to make it clear on the floor of Parliament that there is no move away from the sacred resolution passed by Parliament. What is really required not only for J&K but for all States of India is an implementation of the Sarkaria Committee's recommendations on Centre-State relations, so as to convert India into a truly federal setup.

The third major area, which this round table should address, is how the Pandits can return to their homes and hearths in the motherland from which they have been so rudely ejected. We strongly feel that a proper atmosphere has first to be built before we can even think of doing so. There are a number of confidence measures that should be taken up. These are contained in our memoranda to the PM and Home Minister. I will, therefore not elaborate, but merely mention the most important. These are:

?     Creation of a political space for Kashmiri Pandits by nominating them to the Central and State Cabinets and Legislatures

?     Declaring the migrants as refugees or internally displaced persons

?     Setting up a Commission of Inquiry to understand what really led to our ethnic cleansing and fix responsibility

?     Setting up special courts and handing over all unsolved cases of murder of Kashmiri Pandits to the CBI.                 

?     Reversing all the property deals entered into by the Pandits as distress sales, removal of encroachments on our properties, restoration of properties acquired mala fide by the State Govt              and payment of compensation for loss of income all these years

?     Declaration of Pandits as reverse minorities and appointment of a Pandit as the Chairperson of the State Minorities Commission

?     Passing of the Temple legislation proposed by AIKS, which is already pending before the State legislature

?     Giving control of all minority educational institutions to us

?     Recognizing Devanagri as an additional alternate script for Kashmiri.

Above all, what we require is a Central law guaranteeing our civil and constitutional rights in perpetuity, so that the unfortunate events of the last twenty years are never repeated and Pandits can go back in honour and dignity, with their heads held high.

At the end, I would like to thank the Prime Minister for this opportunity with the hope that he will call us for a separate meeting at his earliest convenience, so that he could appreciate the aspirations of the community at first hand and in detail.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 September 2010 03:40