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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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Pentavalent vaccine: Doctors raise red flag

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive

the new Hepatitis B vaccine for adults is called Heplisav-B.
India's PV to be reexamined because of its harmful effects. .
  • Pentavalent vaccine was introduced in India six years ago
  • It is since then have been a cause of many deaths
  • Doctors want it to be reexamined before continuing its use

Pentavalent vaccine (PV), that was introduced by India a little over six years ago, doubled the deaths of children soon after vaccination compared to the DPT (Diphtheria-Pertussis-Tetanus) vaccine, according to a new study that calls for a “rigorous review of the deaths following vaccination with PV”.

Health officials have launched a campaign targeting nearly 24 million people with a one-fifth dose of the vaccine. Wikimedia Commons
PV has been cause of many deaths in past years. Wikimedia Commons

Government records show that there were 10,612 deaths following vaccination (both PV and DPT) in the last 10 years. There was a huge increase in these numbers in 2017, which the Health Ministry has promised to study. “The present analysis could be a starting point in the quest to reduce the numbers of such deaths,” authors of the new study say.

The study by Dr Jacob Puliyel, Head of Pediatrics at St Stephens Hospital, and Dr V. Sreenivas, Professor of Biostatistics at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), both in New Delhi, is published in the peer-reviewed Medical Journal of Dr D.Y. Patil University.

PV is a combination of the DPT vaccine and two more vaccines against Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) and hepatitis B. Starting December 2011, PV was introduced into India’s immunisation programme to replace DPT vaccine in a staged manner with a view to adding protection against Hib and Hepatitis B without increasing the number of injections given to infants.

Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons
Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons

But sporadic reports of unexplained deaths following immunisation with PV had been a matter of concern. Puliyel, Sreenivas and their colleagues undertook the study to find out if these deaths were merely coincidental or vaccine-induced.

The authors obtained data of all deaths reported from April 2012 to May 2016 under the Right to Information Act. Data on deaths within 72 hours of administering DPT and PV from different states were used.

For their study, the authors assumed that all deaths within 72 hours of receiving DPT are natural deaths. Using this figure as the baseline, they presumed that any increase in the number of deaths above this baseline among children receiving PV must be caused by this vaccine.

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According to their analysis of the data provided by the government, there were 237 deaths within 72 hours of administering the Pentavalent vaccine — twice the death rate among infants who received DPT vaccine.

Extrapolating the data, the authors have estimated that vaccination of 26 million children each year in India would result in 122 additional deaths within 72 hours, due to the switch from DPT to PV.

“There is likely to be 7,020 to 8,190 deaths from PV each year if data from states with the better reporting, namely Manipur and Chandigarh, are projected nationwide,” their report says.

It is important to make sure that these vaccines are reexamined peroperly. VOA

The authors note that while the study looks at the short-term increase in deaths (within three days of vaccination) it does not calculate the potential benefits of PV on infant mortality, for example by protection against lethal diseases like Haemophilus influenza.

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive. “These findings of differential death rates between DPT and PV do call for further rigorous prospective population-based investigations,” the study concludes. IANS