Fission Kashmir

Fission Kashmir
by Farzana Versey
The Asian Age, Op-ed, Sept. 4, 2007

Size matters. Did you read the report that quoted an army officer who served in the Kashmir valley saying, “Why would the police kill a militant who carries only Rs. 10,000 on his head? It is a better idea to let him grow big to command a reward of Rs. 3 lakh”? 

Are you impressed by the prudence or disgusted? 

“Does the government have any responsibility towards us? Their actions show they are responsible only towards the militants,” said a shop owner, when the New Delhi Municipal Corporation razed a few shops that belonged to Kashmiri Pandits at the INA Market.

What do the two comments tell us? That the militants are pampered or, like sacrificial goats, fattened before slaughter?

Unlike the 140 terrorist groups, the Pandit lobby is strong. It can organise itself. Displaced Pandits are now demanding reservations in the Jammu and Kashmir legislature and government jobs for the community as well as setting up of three townships in the Valley for their rehabilitation.

It is time they made these demands for the simple reason that it will take away the onus from the local Kashmiris who did not drive them out. And therefore they cannot claim to be refugees; they are regular immigrants, as much as other Kashmiris.

The Pandit issue has been romanticised. If anyone is interested they truly ought to go to the so-called refugee camps in Delhi. I revisited Amar Colony and Pamposh Enclave. I had been there as suggested by Sunita Tikoo. I told her they were all proper houses. She had smiled, “What did you expect? This was not 1947. People had begun to move things. Every Pandit had two-three bags. They were rehabilitated within a year. Our education is our strength. Some were given two-three jobs here. You won’t find a jobless Pandit. Most are well-off. If you are looking for those camps, you will find them only in Jammu.”

I managed to trace one such place in Mangolpuri in Delhi. It is most certainly spartan with common facilities. Vinati Kaul had invited me into her one-room house. She, like several others, was a victim of threats from “terrorists or someone”. There was an exodus. They approached the Kashmiri Samiti and they provided them with this place. When they first arrived the government gave a stipend of Rs. 500 for a four member family and rations every month. The payment was increased every year and is now almost Rs. 4,000. As she said, “Jagmohanji was the one who pushed things. The BJP had helped us a lot, giving us ghee and blankets. They would feel bad giving us aid because earlier we used to give them funds.”

Here too a hierarchy prevails. What one sees in the posh Pandit areas is the pugnacity of government employees and those who could afford to keep the people in power happy. They took advantage of the largesse reserved for those who needed it most. Vinati admitted, “A lot of aid comes from abroad, but it goes to the Samiti, it does not come to us.”

The power-play begins with the manner in which Panun Kashmir was born. In 1991, the Margdarshan Resolution was passed. The General Secretary’s Report mentioned about “retrieving Kashmir as a nationalist bastion” and then went on to talk about its determination “to carve out a union territory on the soil of Kashmir”.

When Ashok Pandit of Panun Kashmir once said, “We should have perhaps gone the way of the Yasin Maliks and Shabir Shahs. Perhaps the government would have taken us more seriously then”, he might have helpfully quoted figures of the number of them who have been killed or arrested by government organisations.

There is no doubt they would have faced threats from terrorists, as is most of the population. That is the reason there are so many killings taking place to this day. Who are the dead? It isn’t the Pandits because they have left. Are they concerned?

While the rest of the Valley commemorates July 13 as Martyrs Day in remembrance of a dozen Kashmiris who were killed in 1931 by the Dogra regime outside the Central jail in Srinagar, the Pandits observe September 14 as Martyr’s Day. It is not in memory of innocents but the murder in 1989 of the BJP vice-president.

They have talked about bringing technology and progress in the Valley and yet they complain about the poor conditions. They take pride in how secular they are, but they are asking for a separation on the basis of their religious identity.
It would be wise to remember that much before outside forces came into the picture, local militancy was already active. What were Kashmiris disgruntled about? Isn’t it possible that in a Muslim majority state it was the Pandits who cornered all the prime jobs? Hari Jaising in his book, Kashmir: A Tale of Shame, observed, “Strangely, the Pandits were the first to oppose the entry of ‘foreigners’ (i.e. the Punjabis) into the Valley after partition. They were afraid of losing their jobs. This shows how narrow and time-serving their aims were.”

Yet, it isn’t a government agency that has talked about providing them with security, but a militant outfit. Hurriyat Conference leader, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, has stated, “Kashmiri Pandits are a part and parcel of Kashmiri society and we will bring them back.”

Will they return? No. In a state where the army waits for a militant to grow big, their only hope is to keep reminding the authorities that chess cannot be played without pawns. And they are willing.

- - -

Also published in CounterPunch 


  1. Farzana, This is too cool

  2. Jihadis Manzoor and FV support terrorists like Afzal for killing innocent indians and talka bout art without knowing abc just like MFHusain who hates hindus like these 2.

    do not change the subject.U could not even solve a math problem in school,so u became a a art's major without any analytical sense and only a big ego that has nothing to justify it considering u did not make it to any competitive profession or major.All u are is pretentious pseudo who sides with killers of innocents like Afzal,whom u want exonerated.Get it u evil scumbag.U
    dont care about Afzal's victims.Those dead jawans' died protecting filthy traitors like u
    who live here instead of Pakistan and their families had to return the medals because of shameless disgusting scum like u who are full of themselves.Try asking for exoneration of a terrorist in other countries.U will be punished for treason as u should be.
    Do not change the issue.It is your exoneration of Afzal and your contempt for law and court because of your fetish for islamic penises.Go to Pakistan or Iran which your ancestors had to flee
    and Hindus gave them parsis refuge when muslims chased them out just like they do hindus in kashmir,paka nd bdesh.Get yourself checked for depravity u evil.

  3. Blog
    Excellent article!!!

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Manzoor, Circle:

    As expected, there has been extremely enlightening feedback. May I add that it comes from IAS officers who have served in Kashmir, army personnel and a biggie from a BJP sister organisation. I have done this before and shall repeat it again later: reproduce some excerpts. I have always welcomed civilised disagreement.

    This was not a politically-correct piece and I did not imagine people might not have an opinion other than mine. Heck, they even dispute my poetry and little aspects of my life.

    I must thank you for spending time on this humble blog. It is another matter that those who wonder about your waste of time spend even more time here...c'est la vie...

  6. Dear Farzanaji,

    I thought you would be interested in the enclosed message by a Kashmiri
    Pandit. He is a former IAS officer. He was already settled outside
    Kashmir much before the exodus took place.


    ----- Original Message -----
    Sent: Tuesday, September 04, 2007 8:40 AM
    Subject: Re-writing KP history

    Under well-documented masjid-based threats of genocide and the State
    failure to protect them, publicly accepted by Wajahat Habibullah (IAS,
    and former Special Commissioner, Anantnag) in "Kashmir Conundrum", The
    Times of India, Mumbai, May 20, 2002), lakhs of KPs fled Kashmir till
    now only a few thousands remain. Many rot in refugee camps in Jammu,
    many have re-built their lives outside the homeland.
    That the latter
    have done so is mocked by this columnist. Did she expect KPs as a
    communty to stay rotting, only then to be able to claim restoration of
    their legitimate rights in Kashmir from uncaring State and Central
    governments? Yet she calls the KP lobby strong, and Pak/Saudi-funded
    and supported terrorists weak!!
    And from persecuted refugees in their
    own land, KPs became "migrants" and now they are "immigrants"? She
    forgets that Kashmir was a Hindu and Hindu-majority homeland before the
    Muslim persecutions began and, over the centuries, with ups and downs,
    has all but become, in "secular" India, a Muslim State.

    My reply:

    Dear X:

    Thank you for forwarding the note. I am well aware that there are always several perspectives to any issue; mine was one of them. Naturally, I stand by it. Therefore, it has also been stated that there were interested groups that started distributing leaflets announcing threats. Some were provded plane tickets to escape; this has been mentioned by Kuldip Nayar, where he says Farooq Abdullah confirmed such information.

    About the Jammu camps, I have not tried to hide the fact and in fact quoted the lady who mentioned it. The idea was not to mock the KPs for making a life outside, but those who do so become migrants (the reference to immigrants is that they were so in Delhi, not Kashmir). Our expats are migrants, not refugees.

    The KP lobby is strong because it can organise itself. I did not say terrorists were 'weak'. The implication in mentioning 140 groups is that they are so disparate that they can never come together.

    It is time we got rid of centuries' old history and moved on. Kashmir has been a Muslim-majority state and everyone knows the political machinations that took place to get Hari Singh on the Indian side.

    Just to emphasise a related point, I have never stated that Kashmir belongs to Pakistan and refuse to call part of the state occupied by Pak as 'Azad Kashmir'. It is unfortunate that J&K issue has taken on religious overtones when the local Kashmiri does not follow any rabid form of religion. I hope you saw the pictures of the Janmashtami procession passing through Lal Chowk for the first time in 18 years. It is a huge step forward.

    I am aware that this note is not going to change anyone's mind, but I do believe in a dialogue, irrespective of what my point of view is.

    Best regards,

  7. KP are not like muslims,the community to which the blog owner belongs.The muslims rot in self apathy and cry everybody is anti-Islam when they themselves are not good for anything.

  8. "Our expats are migrants, not refugees."
    >>Interesting! Wouldn't KP be refugees since they were fleeing persecution based on religion? Or there was no religious persecution to begin with?

    "It is time we got rid of centuries' old history and moved on. Kashmir has been a Muslim-majority state and everyone knows the political machinations that took place to get Hari Singh on the Indian side."
    >>And what point do you plan to start recording history? What should be the starting point? Political machinations due too what? Can it be, invasion by Pakistani's (Operation Gulmarg)?


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