Tuesday January 23, 2018
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Plight of Kashmiri Pandits

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By Shriya Katoch 

The story of Kashmiri Pandits is not an unheard one. Every few years the issue is paid lip service until it faces reclusion once again, but with 80% reduction in militancy in the last 5 years, the question arises as to whether the situation in Kashmir has improved?

The Kashmiri Pandits were dislocated from their millennia-old home .

It all began in 1988 when the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front began demanding independence of Kashmir from India. Many Islamic radicals among the party wanted to exterminate Kashmiri Pandits and make Kashmir an all Muslim state.

Benazir Bhutto who was at the time the Prime Minister of Pakistan delivered an instigating speech stating that the blood of Muslim’s runs through the veins of Kashmir. She said that the Kashmiri have the blood of Mujahideen. This speech ignited passion in Kashmir ,against India. In fact, The Pakistani central government supported, trained and armed the insurgency in Kashmir.

Their first act of violence was when they killed Pandit Tika Lal Tapoo ,who was a prominent leader in Jammu and Kashmir.Following months lead to massive assassinations of various public figures in the state, who were the pillars of the Kashmiri Pandit community. This created a wave of panic among the Kashmiri Pandits. On Jan 04, 1990,
a local Urdu newspaper, Aftab, published a press release asking all Pandits to leave the Valley immediately or they would be killed.

Al Safa, another local daily repeated the warning.These warnings were followed by masked Jihadis carrying out military-type marches openly.

They began a killing spree. Bomb explosions and sporadic firing by militants became a daily occurrence. Explosive and inflammatory speeches were being broadcasted.

This evoked a complete state of anarchy.Chaos took over and preyed on the innocent. Lawlessness flooded the valley and a mob with slogans and guns started roaming.

Reports of violent acts against Hindus were heard. The holy war spared no one. Men, women and children were killed alike. Kashmiri pandits were killed, their corpses mutilated beyond extent and left on the street. Women were raped, hanged naked, some even burned. Eyes were gauged out and their tongues cut with scissors. Youngsters were strangled with steel wires.

According to the Indian Government 219 Kashmiri Pandits were killed from 1989 to 2004 (different sources quote varying numbers, ranging up to 700) and 350,000 were dislocated due to the insurgency.

Radical Islamists wanted to eliminate all Kashmiri Pandits making Kashmir an all Muslim state. They held a deluded vision of Islam being in danger, also, the Kashmiri Pandits did not support their separatist view. Hence, this genocide occurred and earned the term ethnic cleansing. Due to this turmoil, the Kashmiri Pandits were forced to dislocate to other areas.

It has been 26 years and the Kashmiri Pandits continue to live as refugees in their own country. Facing neglect, deprivation and despair in refugee camps. They live in inhuman conditions. These camps are not even armed with basic amenities such as water. People are cramped into small spaces .

They are victims of fanaticism,robbed of their life. However, they did not answer violence with violence, insanity with insanity. And how are they paid, discarded off, forgotten, left to fender for themselves?

When will their screams be heard? The population of Kashmiri Pandits is dwindling and they face the threat of extinction.

Attempts are being made to return the Kashmiri Pandits back to their home.Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to dissolve the controversial Article 370.

As of 2016, only 1800 Kashmiri Pandit youths have returned to their state .

However, a high percentage of Kashmiri Pandits are still not sure whether the
divide has been bridged .

What happened in Kashmir in 1990 was a major violation of human rights,
efforts need to be made by the government to ensure that the Kashmiri Pandits
feel secure enough to return back to their homeland. They need to be returned to their rightful home .

Shriya Katoch multitasks as an Engineering student,an avid reader,a guitar player and a death note fan. Twitter: @katochshriya538

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India China’s Fight Over the Doklam Plateau Explained

Doklam or Donglang, is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India

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picture from- indiaopines.com

By Ruchika Verma

  • India and China have an old history of disputes
  • This time, the dispute is regarding the Dokplam Plateau
  • The area is of strategic importance for both the nations

Disputes between India and China are not at all uncommon. The rivalry between the two nations is famous. There have been several disputes between the two on the India-China border in past, and there seems to be no stopping for these disputes in the present or future, for that matter.

India and China have a n old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com
India and China have an old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com

In June 2017, the world witnessed yet another dispute arising between India and China. This time the dispute was about China building a road extending to Doklam Plateau, which both nations have been fighting over for years now.

Also Read: China is likely to get involved if India disrupts $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

History of the dispute 

Doklam or Donglang (in Chinese), is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India. India doesn’t directly claim the area but supports Bhutan’s claims on it.

India fits into the picture, as this plateau is an important area for India. Not only is Bhutan one of the biggest allies of India; China gaining access over the Doklam Plateau will also endanger India’s borders, making them vulnerable to attacks.

Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan's borders.
Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan’s borders.

Apart from the hostile history of the two nations, the Doklam Plateau is also important for India to maintain its control over a land corridor that connects to its remote northeastern States. China building a road through Doklam surely threatens that control.

A complete timeline of what happened in the recent Doklam Standoff 

On 16 June 2017, Chinese troops with construction vehicles and excavators began extending an existing road southward on the Doklam plateau, near India’s border. It was Bhutan which raised the alarm for India.

On 18 June 2017, India responded by sending around 270 Indian troops, with weapons and two bulldozers to evict the Chinese troops from Doklam.

On 29 June 2017, Bhutan protested against the construction of a road in the disputed territory.  According to the Bhutanese government, China attempted to extend a road in an area which is shared both Bhutan and India, along with China.

Between 30 June 2017 and 5 July 2017, China released multiple statements justifying their claim over the Doklam plateau. They cited reasons as to why the Doklam standoff wasn’t really needed. And how China has not intruded into India’s territory to incite the standoff.

On 19th July 2017, China asked India again to withdraw its troops from the Doklam. On 24th July 2017,  Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in his statement, asked India to withdraw and behave themselves to maintain peace.

India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC
India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC

Also Read: Why India Must Counter China’s High-Altitude Land Grab?

What followed till 16th August 2017 was China constantly alleging India of trying to create trouble. They accused India of trying to disturb the peace and not withdrawing the troops, even after repeated reminders. They also accused India of bullying.

India, however, kept quiet during the whole fiasco, only releasing a statement regarding their stand and position at the Doklam standoff.

On 28 August 2017, India and China finally announced that they had agreed to pull their troops back from the Doklam standoff. The withdrawal was completed on that very day.

On 7 September 2017, many media reports claimed that both nation’s troops have not left the site completely. They were still patrolling the area, simply having moved 150 meters away from their previous position.

On 9 October 2017, China announced that it is ready to maintain peace with India at the frontiers. India reacted in affirmative, the peace was established when Indian Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman’s visited Nathu La.

The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay
The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay

The Doklam issue, for now, is resolved. However, given the history of disputes between India and China, it won’t be a surprise if the issue resurfaces again in near future.