Free Ladakh from Kashmir from India

A well-meaning, self-proclaimed secular professor at my university, spoke of how he went to Sopore in Kashmir recently, and was pained to see the Soporis—an influential Pandit family—had been “forced to flee” by ‘goondas’ of Kashmir.

The professor was speaking on the Sri Krishna Commission report on Bombay riots of 1992-93, which indicts many influential Hindutva figures and police officers in mass crimes against Muslims in the post-Babri Masjid demolition riots, and which has been gathering dust for the last 10 years. The report has come to light in view of the swift judgments handed down to those Muslims allegedly involved in the Bombay blasts of 1993. Instead of calling spade a spade, he went on to use pretty neutral phrases like ‘a certain community, a particular community’ while referring to Muslims killed in the Hindu mob violence in Bombay and elsewhere , but when it came to Kashmiri Pandits he made their identity explicit.

Not that it surprised me that all he could notice in Sopore was the missing Sopori family, and not the scars of death and destruction left by Indian Army’s actions on the town or hundreds of its residents killed or maimed by them, but the way he compared the tragedy of Pandits in Kashmir with that of Muslims in Bombay and Gujarat. In fact, it was a subtle attempt to discursively equate the culpability of Hindutva people in India and Muslims in Kashmir. He conveniently chose to ignore on whose side the all-powerful Indian state stands. Many student colleagues heaved a sigh of relief. They left the auditorium with lighter conscience. Indian state’s and society’s crimes were justified implicitly by reference to a popularized narrative about Kashmiri Pandits.

The professor’s speech irked me more for he kept referring to L K Advani and Bal Thakeray as Advaniji and Thakeryji. Well, so did a well known social activist who spoke after the professor, who has been fighting for long for justice to the victims of communal violence in India, and who, according to her own admission, receives daily threats from the Shiv Sena and its other clones.

On a wall in Leh recently: Free Ladakh from Kashmir. Free Tibet.

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5 thoughts on “Free Ladakh from Kashmir from India

  1. It really does trouble me that a ‘well meaning’ professor working in the last (student) bastion of communism does indeed speak so frivolously about a sensitive issue and gets away with it. Perhaps it’s also reflective of the institution as a whole and its similarly well meaning, self proclaimed fighting-for-humanity activists (oopps budding politicans) who seldom look inwards and even when they do never find the voice to criticise their own kind. However, that may be an unwarranted incursion into a very ‘shady gray’ area here.Going by the account of the speaker, this academic obviously has sharp inclinations which he is not very subtle about. And many such men are found in our country and perhaps also in Kashmir, which for the sake of differentiation and identification, we shall assume as a different country/political entity/sovereign people/alien culture. After all, that is what the author is hinting at, ie, differentiation and identification. Meaning what the ‘Hindutva people’ did is abhorrent (about which you cannot disagree unless of course you are fascist cunt) but the forced migration of Kashmiri Pandits through means of intimidation, coercion and plain brutality is overblown and not worth condemning let alone being termed abhorrent. Hmmm… I think all future discourses on crimes against humanity should perhaps differentiate and identify the brutality against a people according to religion and region! The author nails his point when he says and I quote “In fact, it was a subtle attempt to discursively equate the culpability of Hindutva people in India and Muslims in Kashmir”. Poor Pandits or should I say stupid Pandits. Hence, this is not an issue to shed tears about or express fear, for Kashmir is a Muslim issue and the victimisation of ‘Muslims’ (who here are not nondescript people brutalised by the Indian state, a certain ‘freedom-loving’ neighbour and the all sacrificing freedom fighters aka (foreign) mercenaries BUT ‘Muslims’ and hence more brutalised than the Pandits who obviously the Indian state so perfectly protected in their original habitat). poor bastards, i’d say. Perhaps then the 1.5 million Armenians wiped out in the last century’s first genocide are really not worth talking about because the poor Jews lost more brethren in the Nazi ‘Endlösung der Judenfrage’ (or the Final Solution to the Jewish Question) and hence should be the sole receivers of our sympathy and support. And as a direct consequence of that should not be bothered about the few million Palestinians (or should i specify Palestinian Arab Muslims) they condemned to a ghetto life. Makes perfect sense! The author makes another very non-subtle allegation by saying, “He (the professor) conveniently chose to ignore on whose side the all-powerful Indian state stands”. Now this could either mean that the Indian state always sides with “Hindutva people” or perhaps all Hindus in this country. It’s a matter of debate left open by the author through his inconclusive allegation. However, what I’d like to draw you attention to, Mr. author, is that the Indian state is only as communal (or religiously biased) as well it is pseudo-secular. And let me be conclusive about this statement. The Indian state (which doesn’t have a homogenous ideology considering the revolving doors syndrome at the centre) is also very unnecessarily generous to religious communities in this country in order to appease them. This doesn’t take away anything from communal instincts of a certain section of the Indian polity but perhaps its also time we really called a spade a spade and not always paint a picture of minority persecution. Minority appeasement, which the way it is done is not intended for their development but just reinforcing patriarchy and their support, is quite a serious issue and one that is never stirred for the fear of being labeled communal. Now, I have a serious question here. Would you say that the Al-Qaeda or whoever those blokes are going around killing innocent bystanders to revenge the killings and exploitation of the Ummah more (or less) culpable than the ‘Hindutva people’ of India? I mean the Al Qaeda at least kills all kinds in just about any place unlike the ‘Hindutva people’ who concentrate all their ire on the ‘largest religious minority’ in India and the Muslims of the neighbouring nation of Kashmir. Obviously, the Pandits and other non-believers of Jammu and Ladak are not entitled to our secular tears unlike the Muslims of the beautiful country of ‘Kashmir’ (the sovereignty of which is limited to the Valley due to the contentions that people of Jammu and Ladak might raise). Of course what the freedom loving (foreign) mercenaries do to the beautiful Muslim people of Kashmir would be too hot a topic to touch here.Maybe my (pseudo) socialist friends at JNU are actually right and the only party to blame for the exploitation and tragic condition of the Adivasis of Bastar is only the ‘state’. That the feisty and ‘fiercely equitable’ Maoists kill them, rape them and take their children away for fighting purposes should not be debated about as the Telugu-speaking urbane Maoist leaders know better than those dumb and primitive Goondi speaking Chhattisgarhi Adivasis. Again, poor bastards!And what’s wrong with Advaniji or Thakerayji. After all if Dawood can be bhai and Osama beatified as Saif-ul-Allah (the Sword of Islam) we should not cry hoarse about the similar minded fascist criminals being addressed politely. After all they are all in the same business. And in India we don’t shy away from being courteous.Hasta la Victoria Siempre!

  2. In Gujarat, for almost the entire March of 2002, mobs of Hindus, disturbingly transcending caste and even tribal affiliations, ran amok. This genocidal rage of Hindutva terrorists was fully endorsed and given a carte blanche by the state government. Tehelka has done a remarkable job. What it means was that Muslims of that state had nowhere to go to seek justice. And although, there were 257 POTA cases filed after Godhra train burning incident, of which 256 were against Muslims, and one against a Sikh, for a number of years after that killers of more than three thousand Muslims strutted around stamping out any last hopes of justice to their victims. Muslims lost all their properties, and were reduced to penury. Women were raped and mutilated, as the pogrom’s designers are now claiming to be their achievement without any hint of remorse. Courtesy Tehelka.In Kashmir terrible things happened in early 90’s. Kashmir’s Hindu minority was intimidated. Some newspapers explicitly told them that they were not safe in Kashmir. I was witness to the fear in which Hindus lived. My Hindu friends spoke of leaving. My neighbours came to my home and asked my parents to watch their houses, till they return. Some influential Hindus were assassinated during this time. Many Muslim “pro-India” politicians and bureaucrats were too done to death. By the time Farooq government resigned on 19 January 1990, around 273 people had been killed in Kashmir, of which 73 were Hindus. It was a disproportionate number, considering their population in Kashmir was only three percent. It was bound to provoke fear. On 20 January when Jagmohan was brought back to become governor, many Hindus had lost all hope of safety. On the same night thousands of trucks and other vehicles suddenly materialized and Hindus were transported to Jammu and other parts of India; this was despite Muslims pleading that they should stay. It was not mob violence against Hindus, unlike in Gujarat. It was the violence of the terrorists, and a strategic move of the Indian state to delegitimise Kashmiri struggle as communal. I don’t know who they are. The terrorists who were instrumental in it don’t represent me. But it is clearly unjust to say that Muslims in Kashmir were responsible for the Hindu flight. Muslims were already being crushed brutally by an imperious Indian state. But crime cannot be individualized in these times. Muslims of Kashmir should possible have done more to obviate Hindu fears. And this is despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of Muslims never supported these actions. I also feel, what Indian government and its army is doing in Kashmir, after destroying a generation of Kashmiri youth, has to be not only acknowledged by Indian citizens, but forgiveness sought for. India by calling itself a democracy makes its citizens complicit in the actions of their government. But more so, for a majority of “nationalist” Indians have actively participated in the state’s act of obfuscating facts, and denying any of its crimes in Kashmir. The future status of Kashmir has finally to be decided by the Kashmiris themselves. Democracy principle. That is all I believe. I don’t peddle any solutions. I have none. I totally believe that we need to speak about those 200 Hindus killed in Kashmir in the same breath as the 80000 Kashmiri Muslims (or for that matter almost a 100 Sikhs). Yes those 200 Hindus lives and 100 Sikh ones are equal to the 80000 Muslim lives. My only contention is we cannot speak, when assigning culpability, about Gujarat and Kashmir in the same breath. On one side stands an all-powerful state and a majority of the society (considering Gujaratis elected Modi to power again), and on the other side it’s a few terrorists. People of Jammu and Ladakh should also be given a right to choose how they want their future to be. Advanis and Osamas, Thakereys and Dawoods are don’t deserve any respect. One can’t be courteous to such killers. I haven’t been to Chatisgarh ever. I don’t know much about what is actually happening there. And I don’t trust Indian newspapers on it either, after how they misreported the Indian oppression in Kashmir. Victory to People!

  3. You see dear author, you’re reinstating the same prejudice over and over again. How are a certain set of victims, regardless of their origin, religious belief or situation, more brutalised than others. And how does the culpability of the perpetrators differ? And while you use certain facts to support your stand, you refuse to use the same logic to another scenario.For instance, you claim that “muslims” of Kashmir didn’t support the forced migration of Kashmiri Pandits. But neither did they try to stop this or reverse this. So while the well planned state-sponsored mob violence of Gujarat is the fault of all Gujaratis and all other Indians, the forced migration of Kashmiri Pandits (only three percent of the huge nation of the Kashmir valley) is not to be blamed on the other Kashmiris. What kind of inane logic is that? And do you realise that you are using the same reasoning as that of the right wing Hindu fascists of my country. That Muslims only make up 13-14 percent of India (1.1 billion people) and hence it’s fine to go after them in their bid to create the ‘great Hindu Rashtra’.And now you throw in a new conspiracy theory. That, the forced migration of the Pandits was a well-orchestrated plan of the ‘imperious’ Indian state. Oh oh.. just like the US govt bombed its own people in the 9/11 attacks to legitimise its war on terror. (And contrary to popular opinion, those 22 million or so people killed in Stalin’s soviet union and Mao’s PRC died of some mysterious plague.)By the way, which Kashmiri (armed) struggle was the Indian government trying to de-legitimise. The same one that got hijacked my non-Kashmiris and on many occasions got turned on Kashmiris themselves. According to you, those who killed and forced the Pandits to leave the valley do not represent you, while Modi and his cohorts’ represent all Gujaratis, even those fighting against him, and all other Indians. I think what happened in Gujarat is shameful and one of the darkest chapters of independent India. That a killer like Modi was elected back to power shows how unfair representative democracy can be and a reflection of the larger Gujarati society. But it took Indian media to keep him and his crimes in the spotlight and it took Tehelka (an Indian publication the last time I checked) to publicly indict him. While little of the same is seen in the Kashmiri conscience or media. Of course, in that case ‘the struggle’ is larger than ethno-religious minorities. Please, let’s not play the sacrosanct snob here. While Kashmiris keep crying fowl about being mistreated in the rest of India (and not without reason), xenophobia against regular ‘Indians’ plays out openly in the valley. Poor labourers from Bihar and other parts of India are openly warned to go back or face execution. So, while Indians should host separatist Kashmiris in their academic and other institutions (and they do), Indians should not hope for similar treatment in the valley.This is not a very healthy trend. For when Kashmir gets independent it’ll have to cut off ties with India and only look for assistance from its other freedom-loving neighbours the banana republic of Pakistan and People (executing) Republic of China. After all you can’t live in isolation and a poor state like Kashmir will need assistance early on.While on that point, I’d like to get your views on a purely geo-political and strategic question. Say, the Kashmir valley does get independent, don’t you then fear the same fate prevailing on your nation as that of ‘Azad Kashmir’. Or would that be more acceptable considering only Muslims would be killing (or exploiting or dominating) Muslims. How would you assign culpability then?And what I told you about the Adivasis in Bastar is not from what appeared in the Indian newspapers. Maybe, questioning the propaganda-like views and information of the left student activists would help you see the truth. Or is the state more culpable that the Maoists there because well the Maoists are fighting for the Adivasis and know what’s better for them.and remember, when jargon fights jargon there is no cause left!Godspeed.

  4. I don’t think it was totally possible to stop the Pandit flight for the Muslims of Kashmir, given the way Indian state turned on the latter. Everyday things were getting bad to worse. I remember how everyday so many people were killed or beaten up or arrested. The entire Kashmir was traumatised by the Indian state. While at the same time the rogue militants who killed some Kashmiris took advantage of the chaotic situation. I also remember how Muslims assured Pandits of safety. But they could not give them any safety, when a huge oppresive Indian state was on their heads. I am curious to know why did most Pandits leave on the night of 20th January, exactly a day after Jagmohan came to power. There was a rumor running around during that time. Jagmohan was rumoured to be ready to bring out tanks out into the streets to teach Muslims a lesson. And that he had asked Pandits to leave for some months before things get back to “normal”. Immediately after Pandits left, a three month curfew was imposed across the valley. Starvation conditions were created. Numerous instances of mass killings of Muslims at the hands of Indian state were taking place. Gaw Kadal massacre being one example. This is not a conspiracy theory. And if it is then every theory is a conspiracy theory. Yours too. The news of the way some Pandit organisations, in league with Hindutva vadis, speak ill of Muslims of Kashmir, has not reached Kashmir yet. Most Kashmiri Muslims would be shocked to hear what some Pandits blame them for, after what they have gone through, and how they tried their best to care for Hindu places. Some Pandits have decided to lay all their eggs in the Indian basket. That is good for them. Most, possibly, want to come back home. They should. And Muslims, despite the severe oppression they are undergoing at the Indian hands, should make every effort to make them feel secure. Without any condition, whatsoever. I also feel Muslims should help poorer Pandits who have lost their houses rebuild them. Some Muslims who have illegally entered Pandits houses should, of their own, vacate them, or pay proper compensation if that is what the Pandit owner asks for. You ask me geostrategic questions. I cannot answer them. Every country seeks assistance from the world community, especially in the beggining. When India got independence, for many years, it became the begging bowl of the world. It still gets massive subsidies and grants and aid. That has not stopped India from being a lively country. I believe all Indians should be able to visit Kashmir freely. They ought to be treated very well. Kashmir, if you visit it, is a land of hospitality. A Kashmiri will always make tea for you without asking you. They feel asking might put the guest to embarrasment. If you stay at a Kashmiri home you will be treated as a special guest even if you are a stranger. Indians have their holy places in Kashmir; they should be free to visit them. And it is the responsibility of all Kashmiris to protect those places. And friend, you keep talking of the “”people””. You ask me who these “people” are. These are people similar to those who you also find in the Preamble of the Indian Constitution. The people who took the solemn pledge to make India Secular, Democratic and Socialist… If you feel it is Kashmiri “people” and not Kashmiri people who are asking for a just political solution then you must be ready for a democratic plebsicite. Or may be you think Kashmiris cannot be people, they can only exist as a construction in our imagination.

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