Prof Hari OmJAMMU: January 1990 witnessed genocide of miniscule minority of Kashmiri Hindus. Hundreds of them were murdered. Many were lynched. Thousands were persecuted, humiliated and insulted. Their daughters were abused and assaulted. Their religious places were desecrated and parts of which were usurped. Such was the situation that they migrated wholesale to Jammu and other places on January 19 to save their lives, dignity, culture and religion leaving behind their houses, business establishments, agricultural tracts, orchards, jobs and what not. Jammu accepted them with folded hands and embraced them like it had embraced other victims of radical Islamists from Pakistan-occupied-Jammu and from Pakistan in 1947-1948. KN Pandita, a Kashmir University Professor, also migrated to Jammu to save his life and escape the jihadists’ wrath. He constructed house in Jammu city as he, like other persecuted Kashmiri Hindus, found, and rightly, the people of Jammu so tolerant, all-embracing, accommodating and large-hearted. Ever since then, he has been living in Jammu in peace and leading a dignified life. He has been very active in public life. He also visited a number of countries and attended events concerning Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) at a few international fora, including UN Human Rights Commission at Geneva. This year also, he visited Geneva. It was hoped that Pandita, who has written extensively on Kashmir and who has been writing political and cultural essays for quite sometime now, would appreciate the Jammu hospitality, expose those who threw the Hindus, Dogras and Punjabis out of Kashmir in 1990, reflect on the nature of Kashmir Jihad and defend and promote further the genuine cause of the suffering, politically marginalized and socially and economically ignored people of Jammu province, but it was not to be. Instead, he on November 2, 2019 shamelessly stabbed Jammu from the back and suggested that Jammu must sacrifice its interests so that the civil secretariat, seat of the government of the Union Territory of J&K, could be established in Kashmir on a permanent basis. His suggestion was nothing but a part of some sinister conspiracy being hatched against Jammu and the nation as a whole. It is difficult to say who the other conspirators were, and are, but it can be said with full confidence that what Pandita suggested was a willful and meticulously planned attack on Jammu and it was a move calculated to enabling Kashmir to enslave Jammu for all the times to come. He was so shameless and ungrateful that he termed the Jammu’s aspirations as just small. What exactly did he say while suggesting that the age-old practice of Darbar Move from Jammu to Kashmir and back should be discarded and the civil secretariat must be set up in Kashmir on a permanent basis? He said: “There remains very little rather no justification for continuing the practice of six monthly darbar Moves. The practice can be, and should be done away with and a permanent station has to be set up where the secretariat will function for the full year. This throws up the question whether the seat of the government should be in Jammu city or in Srinagar or at a third place to be identified. We know this could become a sensitive issue for the people in the two regions. But a time comes when the people and the government both have to overcome sensitivity and passion for regionalism and recognize the supremacy of national interest. A via media has to be found that would serve the purpose of the stakeholders. Who are the stakeholders in this case? They are the people of the Valley, of Jammu region and the government of the Union Territory. In any case it is not possible to have two secretariats nor is it at all feasible to distribute the departments region-wise. A secretariat is not something that has to be given wheels to move”. He further wrote: “There is no feasible site midway between Srinagar and Jammu where new secretariat can be built along with its extensions and campuses as the development proceeds. Ramban (in Jammu) has no plain area, Batote hills (in Jammu) are sinking and Kud or Mantalai (in Jammu) would not be feasible owing to distance from Srinagar and other towns in the Valley. Therefore, we concentrate on either Jammu or Srinagar…Actually, a new suitable site in the Valley has to be identified under a carefully chalked out plan. A new township has to come up in due course of time where the seat of government is to be proposed. Srinagar city should not be the seat of the government. This city is overcrowded and most of its localities are unplanned and shabby. Traffic snarls are a recurrent feature of the city with narrow lanes. It has lost much of its charm. Its tourist attraction has dwindled with enormous pollution overtaking its lakes and water bodies. Moreover, Srinagar has become a rowdy city and problematic for law enforcing authorities. I would consider the plan should be of creating a new site as the seat of the government somewhere downstream Verinag along both the banks of the Vitasta with connectivity to Pahalgam. Already the proposal of a rail connection between Verinag and Pahalgam is on the cards and this could become the cardinal site for the new seat of the government. The benefits of this scheme are numerous. It will make the new seat of the government a hub of national and international tourism with the potential to become the mainstay of Kashmir economy”.
Justifying his outrageous suggestion, he said: “An important reason of alienation of the people of Kashmir was the negligible presence of the Indian State in J&K. The people of the Valley have a long standing grouse that the Government of India hardly made its presence felt among the masses of people…The people of the Valley felt that they were sold out to the few favoured ruling families that were mired in corruption and nepotism…Having a secretariat in South East Kashmir means round the clock presence of the Union Government in Kashmir, a strategy that would bring immense benefits to the people of the Valley. It will put an end to alienation and the people will feel that they have a just and benevolent government”.
And stabbing the people of Jammu from the back, Pandita further said: “The one minus aspect of this proposal is that Jammu people will protest and oppose it…It will be somewhat difficult for the government to make Jammu people understand that by and large some small regional or sub-regional interests have to be sacrificed for larger national interests. Nevertheless, a way out can be found to assuage the hurt feelings of Jammu people. For example, Jammu region can be allowed financial and quasi administrative autonomy”.
What does all this suggest? One, it suggested that KN Pandita’s heart continues to bleed for those who threw him out of his home and hearth with contempt and called the Hindus fifth columnists. Two, the religio-political development of Kashmir and Kashmiri Muslims are his mottos, battle-cries and watchwords. Three, Kud or Mantalai in Jammu are difficult and costly affairs for the highly prosperous Kashmiri Muslims but a permanent secretariat in Kashmir is not a bad idea or option for the already rather exploited, looted and fleeced people of Jammu. Four, his whole alienation concept is spurious and flawed. It was not based on facts; it’s communally and politically motivated. It could be based on his study of Persian. It was not the absence of the Indian State in Kashmir which led to the alienation of Kashmiri Muslims; it was the Indian Constitution, Indian laws and Indian institutions plus other things Indian in Kashmir which they hated, and continue to hate. What they have been doing in Kashmir since August 5, 2019, when Article 370 was rendered unreal for all practical purposes and when the state was bifurcated into two Union Territories, clears all the cobwebs of confusion and establishes that they hate things Indian and stand for what they unsuccessfully struggled for 72 years (Pakistan, Azadi, Autonomy, self-rule, Nizam-e-Mustafa, demilitarization and so on). Five, he considers the people of Jammu irrelevant and their aspirations unworthy of any consideration or appreciation. Small are the interests of the people of Jammu, he says, and adds that Jammu has to sacrifice its interests to appease those from Kashmir who looted them for 72 years and changed Jammu’s demography to the extent possible through official legislations like Roshni Act and executive orders like the February 14, 2018 Mehbooba Mufti’s order that allowed occupation of the state and forest land in Jammu and Jammu’s Kathua, Samba and Udhampur districts. Six, he doesn’t consider Jammu’s control over finances and administration as its inalienable right. His suggestion that Jammu could be allowed some financial and quasi administrative autonomy could be construed as his contempt for the people of Jammu. Seven, he is vehemently opposed to the 72-year-old demand in Jammu for statehood/bifurcation of secretariat/division of departments on a regional basis and vouches for a regime that is of Kashmir, by Kashmir and for Kashmir (read followers of a particular religion who ruled and misruled the erstwhile J&K State for 71 years). Eight, he, like the Kashmiri Muslim elite, has no word in his Persian or Arabic or Urdu dictionary a single word for the salubrious Jammu province and its tourism potential.
The truth, in short, is that KN Pandita has hatred for the people of Jammu who embraced him, accommodated him, loved him and considered him part and part of the Jammu society. It is for the Kashmiri Hindu refugees to take note of what Pandita did to Jammu and said about Jammu. (To be continued)
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