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“Here is why nobody is shedding tears for Kashmiri Pundits”



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December 6, 1992 is an inauspicious date in Indian history when a large crowd of Hindu Kar Sevaks (volunteers) demolished the 16th-century Babri Mosque in the city of Ayodhya, in Uttar Pradesh. This date is a blot on the story of secularism in independent India. The demolition had badly tarnished the image of the country in the eyes of the world. It resulted in anti-Hindu riots which raged in Pakistan and Bangladesh, with its spillover implications on the law and order situation in India. The Islamic world had threatened India to impose an oil embargo in retaliation. The Western countries were also extremely critical of the development. Majority of Indians too were ashamed of the barbaric act of the fanatic Hindus. Every year on its anniversary day, people gather at various locations to condemn the incident and the news is highlighted all over India and abroad that continue to embarrass the Nation.

But, how many Indians remember 19 January 1990? Perhaps, very few! The time gap is not even 3 years to the date of Babri demolition. That was the date on which a more barbaric incident had taken place. It was an event of “Ethnic Cleansing” of Kashmiri Pundits. Throughout that day, Muslim goons used public address system at mosques urging people to defy curfew and to take to the streets. Masked men with arms marched up and down, openly terrorizing the panicky Pundits who, by then, had locked themselves in their homes. As evening fell, the war cry became shriller.

Three pre-recorded slogans were blaring through loudspeaker: Kashmir mei agar rehna hai, Allah-O-Akbar kehna hai’ (If you want to stay in Kashmir, you have to say Allah-O-Akbar); ‘Yahan kya chalega, Nizam-e-Mustafa’ (What do we want here? Rule of Shariah); ‘Asi gachchi Pakistan, Batao roas te Batanev san’ (We want Pakistan along with Hindu women but without their men). A terrifying fear griped the Kashmiri Hindus. Inside their homes, the panic-stricken women and children clung to each other as their male members were visibly helpless. The fanatic Muslims surrounded their homes shouting to the mobs to give a final push to the “Kafir”. Thousands of Islamic extremists poured into the streets chanting “death to India” and “death to Kafirs”.

The communal slogans of the terrorists were too terrifying and the aggressive songs inciting the Muslims in the middle of the night were too scary for the innocent minority community to live with. Pundits were given three choices – Ralive, Tsaliv ya Galive (convert to Islam, leave the place or perish). At the crack of dawn, the Kashmiri Pundits took the most painful decision in their life. They decided to flee their ancestral homeland to save their lives from radical jihadis. The estimate of Hindu Pundits having fled Kashmir ranges from approximately 100,000 to a number as high as 800,000.

Unlike the aftermath of Babri demolition, the incident of “Ethnic Cleansing” of Kashmiri Pundits had very little impact on the secular image of the Hindu-majority Nation; it did not start any Hindu Muslim communal unrest like the riots that took place immediately after December 6, 1992. Large scale condemnation was missing because most of the citizens were ignorant about the barbaric act of Muslim terrorists. The horrific persecution of the Kashmiri Pundits did not get adequate coverage in national and international media. Seemingly, the “Secular” Hindu majority India had chosen to brush the shameful events of 19 January 1990 under the carpet! That is why country-wide commemoration of the dreadful event on its anniversary date is never heard of.

But, why this apathy? It is a known fact that in retaliatory attacks of Babri Masjid demolition, many Hindu temples were desecrated, destroyed or damaged by mob violence and arson immediately after December 6, 1992. Its exact figure is not available. However, according to the J & K State government’s written reply to the Assembly in October, 2012, a total of 208 temples were damaged in Kashmir in last two decades with Srinagar witnessing highest number of acts of vandalism. Naturally, question arises as to how such an incident was allowed to take place in a Hindu majority Nation, why there was such lukewarm reaction to the shocking happening and how a nation of 1.25 billion plus population silently tolerate desecration of hundreds of Hindu temples whereas demolition of a single Mosque attracted a chain reaction across the globe? It is true that any disrespect to any place of worship of any religion is intolerable and ought to be condemned in the strongest possible terms by one and all. There should not be any bias.

Hence, it is painful to see the countrymen being inequitable in their approach to the issue of Kashmiri Pundits. More so, when one entire community is thrown out of their native homeland by another community in the name of religion with anti-national slogans blaring from loud speakers fitted atop Mosques and the “secular” nation remained virtually unmoved. To get answer to this ambiguity, it is necessary to look at the political scenario that is prevailing in “Secular” India since its independence.

The word Secularism has been twisted to a perverse connotation by the politicians in India. Appeasement of Mullah has become synonymous with secular policies of the country. States are seen to be biased in accommodating Muslim fundamentalists in the name of secularism ignoring the interests of other communities. This is “pseudo-secularism” which denotes pampering of the minorities at the expense of the majority.

The Shah Bano case, wherein the majority Congress government went out of its way to enact a new law to allow a separate civil code for Muslim, despite protests from progressive Muslim themselves and even negating a Supreme Court ruling in the process, shows the extent to which the political parties can go to please the ego of male chauvinists in the Muslim community. This is not a one off case. Such examples are aplenty. Recently West Bengal Government announced a paltry amount of Rs. 2 lakh compensation (same amount of compensation to hooch tragedy victims given by 5 years ago) to the family members of two army men from the State martyred by terrorist in Uri attack on 18 September, 2016; whereas Rs 10 lakh compensation was awarded in 2015 to the victims of Haj stampede. Also, the State administration of Kanglapahari village in Birbhum district had been denying permission to Hindus to celebrate Bengal’s biggest festival “Durga Puja” since past 3 years as it reportedly hurts and angers the sentiments of local Muslims. After a prolonged battle, the Calcutta High Court gave permission to the Hindu villagers to perform “Puja”, with some riders. On 6.10.2016, Calcutta High Court slammed W.B Government for curbs imposed on immersion of Durga Idol in Kolkata due to Muharram. The order delivered by Justice Dipankar Datta mentioned inter alia “There has been a clear endeavour on the part of the State Government to pamper and appease the minority section of the public at the cost of the majority section without there being any plausible justification.” The Nation is witnessing such blatant examples of “pseudo-secularism” every now and then.

Thus, Indian “Secularism” has become a deception by following the policy of Muslim appeasement. While Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and other non-Muslim Indians live under common law, Muslims in India have Sharia-based Muslim Personal Law. Politicians are leaning over backwards to patronize Islamic religious leaders and preachers, including the likes of Zakir Naik. This has led India to take a soft stand against jihadi terrorism, religious militancy and communal disharmony. Taking advantage of such political patronage, terrorists inspired by ISIS ideology are now making inroads into the country, particularly in bordering States like Assam and West Bengal. Still, these pseudo-secularist politicians are competing against each other to woo their vote bank. They think that by doing so they are demonstrating their so-called secular image. These pseudo-secularists would oppose any initiative aimed at welfare of Hindus and other communities if there is a remote likelihood that Muslim fundamentalists may not approve of such idea. Cold response to the proposed amendment to Citizenship Act from parties like Congress, TMC and others at Parliament is one such example. They might cite other reasons but in reality they fear that if Hindus, Sikhs and other minorities of Indian origin of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are granted citizenship, as proposed in the said amendment, Muslims may not like it. This again raises another pertinent question. By going against the interests of majority Hindus, how the political parties survive in the electoral battle? Here the complex equation involving Caste, Race, Regionalism etc comes into play.

The preamble of “SECULAR” Indian constitution iterated the peoples’ resolve to secure among the citizens EQUALITY of status and of opportunity. This preface has subsequently got defaced. While for all practical purposes, the country has become pseudo-secular, there are also people who are “more than equal” than others by virtue of their belonging to certain castes. With the so-called objective of ensuring a level playing field to disadvantageous population, various forms of quota based reservation in education, scholarship, jobs, and in promotion have been introduced solely on the basis of Caste. Such reservation also applies to election in local bodies, in State Legislative Assemblies and in Parliament.

As per article 334 of Indian Constitution, caste based reservation in Parliament and in State Legislative Assemblies should have ceased after twenty years i.e. after 1970. But subsequently every ten years, the constitution is being amended to extend its life by another ten years and, on the face of it, there would not be any end to it. No political party dares to oppose such extension and risk their political future fearing backlash from its beneficiaries. It is ironical that people now want to remain “backward” and many more groups demand to be categorized as “backward” just to enjoy the privileges. The political parties encourage division of citizens on the basis of caste, mother tongue, region and on all other conceivable grounds with the sole motive to bring the different groups under their political umbrella. Thus, on narrow ethnic consideration, Assamese Hindus are now opposing amendment to Citizenship Act which is aimed at rescuing persecuted Hindus, among others, who have taken refuge in India. It is clear that Hindu society in particular is the victim of such “divide and rule” policy of the political parties and as a result of such division Hindus per se do not constitute any unified vote bank. So, political parties can afford to ignore the Hindus – as a community.

On the other hand, politicians are using Indian Muslims merely as a vote bank and their fanatic leaders are misleading the community towards religious fanaticisms without much concern about actual wellbeing and real development of the common Muslims. Right now, Muslims are lagging behind all other religious communities in the country. They are lacking in terms of social status, political activism, financial condition, educational qualification and in almost every other factor that defines prosperity of a community. It shows that last seventy years of appeasement policy has not benefited the common Muslim, rather they were just exploited and simply used as vote bank. Clearly, some Government largesse have only cosmetic value like Central Government’s yearly Haj subsidy for pilgrimage or West Bengal Government’s Rs 2500 monthly stipend for Imams. Similarly, caste based quota system reservation has not helped the downtrodden scheduled caste, scheduled tribes and other backward communities much. The benefits and privileges are being eaten away mostly by their creamy layers.

On the other hand, the prevailing quota based reservation is causing brain-drain of Indian talents because of the resultant unfair competition in the country. It is a great loss to the Nation. In the name of implementing the concept of equality of opportunity, the country is witnessing fragmentation and rupture in the society and loss of amity among its citizens. The minority appeasement, caste divides and vote bank politics have destroyed the sense of belonging to India. Today, one has to go out of India to meet an Indian because there is only Marathi or Tamil, upper caste or schedule caste, Hindu or Muslim in the country and identity of an individual as an Indian comes only as an afterthought.

Recently some Muslim leaders have declared that it is un-Islamic to chant the slogan “Bharat Mata Ki Jay” as also to sing the National Song “Vande Mataram”. Is it not unpatriotic attitude? Does it not carry the germ of another partition of India? The Nation must read the danger signal. However, in his Parliament farewell speech, the veteran lyricist-writer Javed Akhtar, also a nominated member of Rajya Sabha, had unequivocally condemned such discordant declaration. He could do it because he does not have to care for the “vote bank” but for the power hungry “Professional” politicians similar lecture would be a political hara-kiri. In today’s India, protesting against Islamic fundamentalism or raising voice against Caste-based politics is communalism. The political parties which promote nationalism or use patriotic slogans are being tainted as “Communal” by the cartel of pseudo-secularists who launch vicious campaign to ostracize these nationalist parties.

Accordingly, the Central Government’s recent initiative to popularize YOGA is being called “saffronisation” and its effort to revive some noble Indian traditions is being described as ploy to promote Hindu radicalization. With years of deceit and propaganda by these parochial politicians, common people have got used to the pseudo-secularism so much so that they become wary now at the concept of secularism – in its true sense. This applies to the Indian media as well who often confuse the call of nationalism as communal. Hence, when there is injustice against the “Muslims” or against “Backward Castes”, there would be mass protests with the intelligentsia raising their high-pitched voice and the media highlighting the topic with full vigor. But the issue of Kashmiri Pundits has been propagated differently – as trivial and unimportant. That is why there is hardly anyone in the country to shed tears for the Pundits today. But, had this been a case of persecution of Muslims, there would have been a global uproar. If any community belonging to “Backward Caste” were uprooted from their native land, there would have been nationwide agitation. Unfortunately for the Kashmiri Pundits, they did not fulfill any of these eligibility criteria!

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