India and Pakistan on separate townships

Despite all secular claims the majority instinct in India is discriminatory and communal. It has hit adversely the lives of Muslims in India, the Sikhs and the Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir. Muslims in Maharashtra under Sections 5(d) and 9(a) of Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act face a ban on the consumption of meat of cow. The Act bans slaughter of cows, bulls and bullocks and also consumption and possession of their meat. The State has argued that eating beef is not a basic right.

At the international scene, US Congress-established panel Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has recognised in its 2015 report that there is "violations against Sikhs" in India. The USCIRF 2015 report has recognised that "Sikhs are often harassed and pressured to reject religious practices and beliefs that are distinct to Sikhism, such as dress, unshorn hair, and the carrying of religious items, including the kirpan."

The report highlights that "India’s Sikh community has long pursued a change to Article 25 of India’s constitution which states, Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jain or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly." The report records, that “The lack of recognition of Sikhism as a distinct religion denies Sikhs’ access to social services or employment and educational preferences that are available to other religious minority communities and to scheduled caste Hindus."

Sikh leaders say that "recognition of Sikhs with separate identity issue by US will shore up the support for Sikh community’s demand for right to self-determination". In view of this report Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) in USA have decided to approach the world community seeking their support for referendum in the state of Punjab.
The communal content in politics has been there ever-since the landing of Indian soldiers in the State on 27th October 1947. Muslims suspected of any dissent were arrested or forced to leave their homes in the State and cross over into PaK and Pakistan. Tuning in Radio Pakistan was an offence for a Kashmiri Muslim and today we have over 2 million Kashmiri Muslim refugees living in PaK and various provinces of Pakistan.

The communal instinct in Indian politics has come of age in the disputed State of Jammu and Kashmir. BJP Partnership in the present PDP-BJP alliance is being used to create continuous tension and fissures between Kashmiri Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits. It is unfortunate that after using the Kashmiri Pandit to discredit and demonise the Muslim resistance in the Valley, by parading him at the international forums, the communal instinct has aimed its guns on the Muslims in the Valley. It is fabricating facts and misinforming the general public in India and others at the international forums about the plight of Kashmiri Pandits displaced from the Valley during early 1990s.

As a clarification, I would like to put it on record that Muslims have sympathised, more than required, with Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley, outside the Valley and at the international forums, in particular the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. After using the good will of Kashmiri Muslims at all levels, Kashmiri Pandits (activists) disappeared from international scene and many of them have started to work in a secretive manner, to demonise Muslim community which Kashmiri Pandits left to the easy abuse of Indian security forces, in particular from January 1990. The official figures state that only 219 Pandits died and 34202 families left the valley. The death and the displacement are regretted. However, the callous attitude of Kashmiri Pandits to serve as a tool and pooh-pooh the death of a generation of Kashmiri Muslims, the rape of Kashmiri Muslim women, disappearances, mass graves, tortures and custodial killings, fake encounters, massive abuse of human rights of men, women, elderly and children at the hands of security forces, never witnessed from 1846-1990 is agonising.

Kashmiri Pandit leaders in general are using Delhi administration to their maximum advantage and these Pandits have spread out throughout India and used their ‘victimhood’ in seeking favours and poisoning the majority perception against the Valley Muslims. It is on this account that Kashmiri youth studying in various parts of India is unsafe, businessmen and others attract the wrath of local Hindus.

The revelation by Home Minister Rajnath Singh in the Lok Sabha that Delhi (BJP) has acquired 50 acres of land as a first installment for rehabilitation of displaced Kashmiri Pandits from its partner (PDP) in the alliance.  It is surprising that, PDP has surrendered its responsibility in regard to Kashmiri Pandits (State Subjects) and it is the Home Ministry in Delhi, which has planned three-four “composite townships” of 2,500 families each for Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley, in Srinagar and Anantnag. A desire for separate settlements does not reflect well on moral, political and social compass of Kashmiri Pandits in a State where Muslims have continued to suffer at the hands of non-Muslim rulers from March 1846. Kashmiri Pandit has always remained at the core of all administrations in Kashmir and a determining influence in Delhi. He could have acted as a sobering influence and saved the Muslims from forced labour to taxation on circumcision.

Refugees or displaced people have to be treated with proper consideration and in equity. In addition to Kashmiri Pandits, we have five generations of Muslim refugees as well. Indian Government remains under international obligations, in particular under the UN Security Council Resolutions of 21 April 1948, 5 January 1949 and 30 March 1951 in regard to all Refugees and any other political activity in the State, which violates the final settlement of the future of the State through a free and fair referendum according to UN Resolutions.

The planned three-four “composite townships” for Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir have been looked upon with suspicion and are duly opposed by Kashmiri Muslims in the Valley. Pakistan as a member nation of UN and party to the Kashmir dispute has also registered its opposition to any such ‘Premier Settlements’ for Kashmiri Pandits. On 30 April 2015 Pakistan Foreign Office, has made it clear that “The Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory. The UN Security Council resolutions have pronounced very clearly on the status of the Jammu and Kashmir. Pending the final settlement through plebiscite, the two countries have administrative responsibilities in the disputed territory. But there is a very clear direction that there cannot be any demographic change and there cannot be any step which would alter the makeup of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Any effort to create special and dedicated townships, zones or any other step to alter the demographic composition of Jammu and Kashmir is in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. We have already seen how the people of Jammu and Kashmir are resisting the possibility of such measures.”

New Delhi on 01 May 2015 made a routine response. The spokesperson of the Prime Minister House of India said “that Kashmir is the integral Part of India and that whole Kashmir belongs to India and we will take back the freed areas of Kashmir.” The Press Release from Indian PM House said that both Parts of Kashmir whether Pakistan administered Kashmir or Jammu and Kashmir both are the integral parts of India. Pakistan has made a strong case accepting free will of the people as compared to Indian claim, which is reflex of an outdated instinct.

The planned three-four “composite townships” aim at distributing Kashmir along communal lines and Kashmiri Pandits in that case would forfeit their freedom to walk freely across the Valley and enjoy the fauna, flora and the mountains of Kashmir. They would lose the favour and trust of their fellow Kashmiri Muslims. They will be a baby in the cradle of administration. There are genuine grounds to fear that Delhi may use separate Kashmiri Pandit settlements to facilitate non Kashmiri Hindus to settle in these settlements and change the numerical balance in its favour.
The present overwhelming presence of Indian security forces, broad spread of their surveillance apparatus, separate Pandit settlements and embedded possibility of settling non State Hindus as Kashmiris all add up to a genuine and well-founded fear of Kashmiri Muslims that all is not well in Delhi.

New Delhi needs to revisit its plan that would hurt the Muslim character of the Valley and make Muslim a prisoner in his own home. Indian presence in the State is conditional and remains justiciable under the UN mechanism on Kashmir. Indian security forces have been admitted into the valley on certain conditions and on a provisional basis. These forces remain under stipulated discipline under the UN Resolutions. Kashmiris with the help of Pakistan and other member nations of UN have a right to seek a strict observance of terms under which Indian army has entered into the State and a compliance of UN restraints placed on these forces. In 2015 it is open to debate to argue that Indian army may not have any role in the State.