‘Yasin Malik’s Verdict Is Balm On Kashmir Pandits’ Wounds’

Deepak Kachru, a Kashmiri Pandit living in Lucknow since early 90s, India must also guard against the sympathisers of terrorists like Yasin Malik

Displaced Kashmiri Pandits, as a community, had lost hope in the system and accepted the life outside their homeland as their fait accompli for three decades. However two decisions – the removal of Article 370 in 2019 by the Union government and life sentence to Yasin Malik by a special court recently – have come as a healing touch to our wounds.

The life sentence awarded to Malik is for terror funding; he is yet to face the trial for killing of innocent Kashmiri Pandits. Anything less than a death sentence for a person who has killed many innocents, including Indian Air Force officers, and raped women and children will not be acceptable to our community.

Nevertheless, there is some progress on the justice front. There are many culprits responsible for the plight of Pandits and we expect this government to hear the cases related to Kashmir in fast-track courts.

Removal of Article 370 has proved to be a relief not only for the Pandits but for the entire region and whole of Kashmiri people. There has been a substantial fall in the terror activities and support from across the border too is dwindling. Tourism and businesses are slowly reviving in the Valley. This year the tourist footfall created a record.  

Kachru says Narendra Modi has reignited hope among Kashmiri Pandits

Earlier (before the abrogation of Article 370) criminals like Yasin Malik were enjoying all kinds of support and hospitality from inside our own territory, under previous governments. In spite of theses concessions, they did not consider themselves as a part of India.

ALSO READ: Kashmir Incomplete Without Pandits, Says Khushboo Mattoo

The Narendra Modi government has taken several bold steps and ignited hope amongst Kashmiri people as a whole. Terror modules are still there but now they are picking up soft targets such as government employees, non-Kashmiris or SPOs; earlier the terrorists would attack security forces too.

The time is ripe for the government to rid the Valley of terrorism and terrorists for once and all. Bringing the guilty to book and awarding them strict punishment will go a long way in setting an example. There are many more of the ilk of Yasin Malik who must be brought to justice for their nefarious actions.

At the same time, I must say that there are many sympathisers of these anti-nationals amongst us only. Indian government and citizens must guard against these elements. The situation is in our favour and we must make the most of it in establishing the rule of law. This will send a strong message to terrorists and their handlers across the border.

As told to Rajat Rai 

Kashmir is Incomplete Without Kashmiri Pandits

‘Kashmir Will Never Be The Same Without Pandits’

Khushboo Mattoo, displaced from Kashmir in 1990, talks about the hope that abrogation of Article 370 gives to those Kashmiri Pandits who wish to return to their homeland

I can still recall the night of January 19, 1990 when my family, and thousands of other Kashmiri Pandits, packed whatever little we could carry and left for a safe roof. Our lives were at stake. Pandits were being threatened, a lot of them kidnapped and warned to leave the Valley or face consequences. Distraught families left in buses, trucks and Tata Sumos, to live in shanty camps of Jammu and beyond.

Since then, it has been a journey of struggle and survival. A community which was 100 percent literate, never imagined that they would be left in the lurch at one unholy stroke of midnight. The exodus also initiated the process of Islamization of Kashmir. Probably, that was the plan. Thus, as a Kashmiri Pandit, all I want is that my community should be able to return to their homeland and rebuild our lives without a shred of fear. Kashmir is incomplete without Kashmiri Pandits.

The abrogation of Article 370 and 35A brought hope for people throughout the country and particularly to Pandits. The regressive Article debarred women who were domiciles of J&K but got married outside the state from getting property rights. The West Pakistani refugees or the Valmikis who were staying in the state for decades could not be called as domiciles of J&K. But now that problem is resolved too.

No one can compensate Pandits fully for their loss. What the government can do is to make the process of rehabilitation comfortable for Pandits, both in terms of jobs and property. Maybe if we get on a rapid pace of development, the youth in our families will be able to find jobs in Kashmir. The common man of Jammu-Kashmir wants to see food on his plate and a corruption-free administration. It appears to me that the Centre has set the ball rolling.

Mattoo visited the Valley with her husband in Autumn 2020

Having said that, I know the return of Pandits to Kashmir is not easy. Returning to a homogenous Valley where 28- or 30-year-olds have never seen a Hindu in person and where the term secular is alien to public life – will be a challenge. Pandits are understandably afraid to return. Wahan darr kar rahne me kya fayda (What is the point in living under perpetual fear)? We hear news of sarpanchs, political leaders being killed every day. Pandit families will be easy targets. Who would want to return in this environment? There must be social acceptability as well. The process of reverse migration has to be gradual and the Valley citizens have to be welcoming.

In the last 30 years, Kashmir has become a milch cow. Every government and political party has milked it to their benefit. They are clueless about our struggle and how we channelised our anger, with hard work and our learning, to better our lives instead of picking up the gun. This doesn’t make us weak; it makes us stronger. The guns will fall silent, not the pen.

ALSO READ: ‘Pandits Can Return If Kashmiris Ready To Accept Them’

There are people who say that by coming out of a violent Valley, Pandits got better job opportunities and quality of life. I want to tell them that Pandits lost more than they gained. Nobody is happy when one gets uprooted from their homeland. They all remember life back there so vividly. I speak to a lot of Pandits on a daily basis and half of the time we are only talking about Kashmir. Whether a Kashmiri Pandit is staying in America or Australia, he knows everything about Kashmir. He knows when it snows in Kashmir. He celebrates ‘Nausheen’, the first snowfall of the season year after year.

Whenever I get a chance I go to Kashmir, the first thing that strikes me is that everyone is talking in my mother-tongue. It is like homecoming, connecting with the land. This cannot happen anywhere else. A lot of my friends in Kashmir often invite us but it hurts to be treated as a guest on your own land. Who knows if we were in Kashmir, how prosperous it would have been, how healthier our families would have been. Nobody can reverse the tragedy.

I have travelled extensively in the Valley in the past five years. I would like to tell the young Pandits (or youth of any community) to visit the place themselves to know what it is like to be in Kashmir. It is not as bad as one may have imagined. The hospitality and ambience are heartening. I am not saying they should get involved politically but they should at least know about their heritage and culture. It is very important.

– As told to Mamta Sharma

Response: Naming Doval For Pak’s Own Evil Won’t Work

Referring to the need to intensify Pakistani narrative about Jammu and Kashmir that Pakistan has concocted over the past 73 years, former air vice-marshal Shahzad Chaudry concluded his article, which was full of baseless accusations regarding National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, with the following words: ‘It is time we re-introduce our script’.

Two words caught my attention while I read the last sentence of the former Pakistani air marshal’s article. First was the word “re-introduce” and the second was “script”. I would like to discuss them in reverse order.

It is common knowledge among history fans and students who have a keen interest in the affairs of Jammu and Kashmir that on October 22, 1947, Pakistan Army along with thousands of tribal lashkars launched an unprovoked surprise attack on our state of Jammu and Kashmir.

For the attack to be portrayed by Pakistan as a legitimate approach to an imaginary revolt by Muslims of Poonch and Muzafarabad against imaginary communal bloodshed by Hindus, Pakistan made up a story that the Muslims in Kashmir have called them for help.

Hence a script was written which was performed by Pakistan’s handpicked local actors one of whom Sardar Ibrahim Khan was given the lead role. He was later to become the first president of Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

On October 26, Maharaja Hari Singh signed an instrument of accession with India and by nightfall, Indian troops began to arrive in Srinagar to defend us against the invaders. For lack of space and to do justice to our topic I will not delve into the nitty-gritty of the affairs that took place which led to a criminal ceasefire between India and Pakistan, however, I would like to draw your attention to the ‘script’ which the air marshal is referring to.

Pakistan has since portrayed herself as a victim of Indian atrocities. It has played the victim card and used it to galvanise support among 56 Muslim majority Arab states making them to believe that India had somehow invaded Jammu and Kashmir, while the truth is diagonally opposite. India has never encroached an inch of its neighbours land.

Since the abrogation of article 370 and 35A from the Indian constitution, Pakistan has suffered from diplomatic frostbites as the Muslim majority Arab counties have refused to take sides with Pakistan against India.

On the contrary, they have made huge strides toward investing in the newly emerging Asian economic giant that believes in Sanatani norms of business i.e. friendship primary,business secondary or friendship not competition. Hence the need for Pakistani establishment to “re-introduce” the “script”!

Shahzad Chaudry has depicted Pakistan as the protagonist and Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval as an antagonist for the new script Pakistan plans to re-introduce.

Once again facts are conveniently twisted. There is no siege going on in Kashmir, there is no Indian involvement in Imran Khan’s poor economic performance that has led to the formation of Pakistan Democratic Movement and India has not ordered Pakistan army to massacre innocent Pashtuns and Baloch and orchestrated human right activists and political dissent to be killed extrajudicially.

But who cares what the fact is. For Pakistan to re-introduce the old script based on lies and fabricated by its central ministry of disinformation called ISPR is a routine matter.

However, unlike previous decades the world has unanimously refused to buy into these false narratives. It was reflected in their acceptance of the Indian government’s initiative in abrogating the article 370 and 35A. Not a single Arab country stood by Pakistani hue and cry, not a single session of Organisation of Islamic Community (OIC) was called, not a single Pakistan sponsored resolution was able to make its way into the United Nations Security Council and not a single anti 370 abrogation protest was taken out in the valley of Kashmir.

On the contrary, people rejoiced the decision of the BJP government in Jammu and in Ladakh as well as in the valley itself.

Today a new generation of Kashmiri youth has sprung on the political and social scene of Jammu and Kashmir. This new generation of young men and women is taking strides in assisting with the implementation of development projects right across the Union territory. And that is exactly what is bothering Pakistani military establishment. Their 73 years of evil doings are crumbling right in front of their eyes.

Hence, the need to ‘re-introduce’ the ‘script’ has born out of the necessity to reignite the flames of hate based on Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s communal two-nation theory.

It is this context that former air marshal’s article has been published in Pakistan. It is acontinuation of the press conference held by Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in which he unsuccessfully tried to malign India.

Former air marshal’s attempt to name Ajit Doval as the man behind Pakistan’s disastrous social and political upheaval stands no ground. The Baloch have been up in arms against the Pakistani state since 1948, the Pashtuns since the formation of the Durand line and the Sindhis since the 1970s.

Pakistan is a country that is dying due to its self inflicted wounds caused by a thousand cuts it has executed on its decaying body. Long periods of military rule, nurturing jihadists, exporting terrorists, initiating proxy wars in Afghanistan and Jammu Kashmir and the parasitic exploitation of the human and natural resources of its provinces have reduced Pakistan down to a failed state.

To blame Doval will not work. The people of Pakistan know who is responsible for their misery. Although the PDM might become successful in bringing Imran khan government down, however, what is needed is to deliver a death blow to the whole terrorist infrastructure build on the foundations of the Pakistan military establishment.

(The writer is a human rights activist from Mirpur in PoK. He currently lives in exile in the UK – ANI)