T h e

K a s h m i r

T  e  l  e  g  r  a  p  h

Inaugural Edition

A Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

May 2002

I N S I D E


Kashur Gazette

And Them         Sunita Vakil

Table Talk             Sushil Vakil


Spotlight    Chalmers Johnson

Editorial

Special Report Sundeep Waslekar Ilmas Futehally

Fundamentals Jagan Kaul

Book Review Romeet Watt

InsideTrack          Dr Subash Kapila

Himalayan Blunder              Romeet Watt

In Black & White An Assessment

Statecraft             S a p r a   says

Bottomline           Dr Subash Kapila


A b o u t  U s

F e e d b a c k

D i s c l a i m er

C o p y r i g h t s

 

A N D  T H E M

 

Refugees in State Vs Refugees in Country

Sunita Vakil


The communal carnage that engulfed Godhra barely a month back resulting in the death of more than seventy people was the ultimate act in savagery. The retaliatory spiral of voilence was all the more gory as it claimed the lives of more than 800 people and injured several hundred. A bruised and battered Gujarat watched in shocked silence as communally frenzied mobs enacted the scenes of worst barbaric cruelty. All the political leaders and parties came down hard on Mr. Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat for failing to curb violence and maintaining law and order in his home state that resulted in communal backlash. An NHRC team was rushed to Ahmedabad which blamed the Chief Minister for inaction and condemned the killings of a particular community.         

 

Congress leaders and leaders of other political parties hotfotted to Ahmedabad to take stock of the situation and lost no time to criticise the BJP government there. The Gujarat Congress slammed the Modi Government for failing to check the violence and instilling confidence in the local masses. The state Congress leaders demanded the immediate removal  of Mr Modi as chief Minister and institution of an enquiry by a sitting Supreme Court Judge into the incidents of communal voilence. They also demanded to invoke Article 355 to protect the life and property of the citizens. Mr Kapil Sibal of Congress said “The government, by using Art 355, could have dispatched Army straight away to the riot-affected zones without concurring the state government. It did not do so. It also failed to hand over the riot cases to the CBI, which it could well have done under the Article without consulting the state government.

 

Almost all political parties expressed anger and shame at the post-Godhra incidents but no one condemned the inhuman killing of seventy people including women and children in the Sabarwati Express . It speaks volumes about the fake secularism of our political leaders who have an entirely biased concept of secularism. They dared not express grief about the carnage lest their declarations be spelled out as some sort of sympathy for the slayers of the minority community, which would have been a bad political move. But this time around Mr A. B. Vajpayee deserves due credit for inspecting the wreckage of the Sabarmati Express compartment in which 58 Kar Sevaks were burnt alive. Mounting pressure from political parties compelled Mr Vajpayee to visit the strife-torn Gujarat and take a first hand repertoise of the situation. The Prime Minister was stunned beyound words by the dance of death of destruction rampart in the State. He could not control the film of moisture over his eyes and appeared to be quite helpless and bewildered . Profoundly disturbed , Mr Vajpayee expressed his anguish in an emotionally charged voice “ I have come here with a broken heart to share your tragedy”, he said “with what face will I go abroad after all that has happened here” ?         

 

Offering words of consolation to the roit-ravaged masses, he said in chocked voice “Don’t think you are alone. The whole country is with you”. Speaking to about 8000 displaced Muslims in the Shah-e-Alam camp in Ahemdabad Mr Vajpayee said “Becoming refugee in one’s own country is something that pierces the heart”. While the PM has said all the right words and made all the suctiable gestures in Gujarat, it is quite unfortunate that our Government and also the Opposition parties, who are raising quite a din about the atrocities meted out to one particular community are displaying a muted response about the killings rampart in Nort-East and Jammu and Kashmir ? The difference lies only in that  Gujarat has got sucked up in a vicious circle of reprisal killings while as in Kashmir ethenic cleansing of Hindus is taking place on a daily basis by the Islamic militants.         

 

It is quite ludicrous that the Congress and other opposition parties who cry themselves hoarse over the recent incidents in Gujarat have tended to neglect half a million Kashmiri refugees who were hounded out of their homes, their houses burnt and properties looted and were forced to live a life that voilates all standards of human diginity. While TV channels and newspapers are full of reports about Gujarat carnage, the hardships faced by Kashmiri refugees hardly find a mention anywhere. Are there any answers for this step-motherly treatment ? Has Mr  Vajpayee ever taken the trouble of reaching out to this forlorn and forgotten displaced community ?         

 

It can be unequivocally asserted that the government and leaders of opposition parties are unconcerned about these everyday killings of the “other minority community” in “another part of the country”. Even NHRC is nowhere visible in Kashmir. there are daily attacks on security establishments and government buildings. People belonging to minority community who have no means to shift to other parts of the country are butchered like cattle and the government does not even bother to count the corpses. The last two weeks witnessed a lot of selective killings of the minority community.         

 

The attack on the Raghu Nath temple in Jammu in which ten people were killed was an act fit to be conemned by all political parties but no attention was paid to the dastardly act and the Media also gave it a passing reference. Again, seven Hindus were shot dead when heavily armed militants swooned on Dandli village in Udhampur district and opened fire on the villagers killing seven of them and injuring three others. In a separate incident, three  persons were killed and 10 injured, Contd. from page 1 some of them seriously, when a bomb exploded in a sweet shop in the border town of Rajouri in Jammu. Moreover, militant attack on security installations has become a regular feature in which many securitymen get killed.         

 

Considering that the above mentioned heinious acts are no less acts of savagery, then why don’t Mr Vajpayee’s eyes brim over with tears and no healing touch is provided to the brutalised community ? Doesn’t he feel anything when Kashmiri Pandits are butchered in the name of ethenic cleansing ? Why doesn’t he feel shame when Hindu piligrims are killed, Temples destroyed and burnt and properties of minorities looted and vadalised ? Can he provide any answers since he himself asserted that a person in governance should make no discrimination on the basis of caste, creed and religion ? While visiting Gujarat, the Prime Minister expressed his emotions in a chocked voice “with what face can I go abroad after what has happened in Gujarat”.  It was a good thing that he was expressing his concerns about Muslims but what about Kashmiri Pandits who continue to be ignored for more than a decade ? Is it because they are Hindus and have stood by India even when the latter did not have any concerns about their fate ? We surely do respect the sentiments of Mr Vajpayee when he declares in a painful voice that people becoming refugees in their own land pierces his heart but why is this sentiment directed only at the refugees in Gujrat and not at those in Jammu who have been living with the label of refugees in their own homeland for more than a decade ? Can his theory of pseudo-secularism explain that one ? Our benevolent Prime Minister needs to be reminded that there are “ other refugees “ also in the hinterland of his country who have lost everything to Islamic militancy. While as the former are at least still in the state they were born and brought up, Kashmiri refugees had to run for their lives and take shelter outside their their home state where they had to build their life all over again.         

 

What the common man fails to understand is that why the government is biased towards one community and does not bother about another one which faces the eye of the storm every single day.Why special steps are not being taken to curb voilence in J and K also ? When all the political parties are baying for Mr Modis blood why not a single demand has been made for giving marching orders to Dr Farooq Abdullah who like Nero has been fidddling while Kashmir continues burning ? What contribution he has made for the people of J and K in his five year stint as a CM ? His Government has failed to provide solace to the strife-torn masses of the valley.All that he has done is hanging to the seat of the power by playing petty politcal games. 

 

While in Gujarat, the Government has ordered rebuilding of houses, ex-gratia compensation and many other schemes to help the ravaged masses to tide over their miserable phase, no such benifits are for Kashmiri refugees. There houses were looted, destroyed and burnt  but the got no compensation. They get a meagerly Rs 2400 per month as the relief from the Government which does not even suffice to pay their monthly rent, not to speak of feeding hungry mouths and other expenditures. Things have come to such a pass that the hapless Migrants have started selling their offsprings to provide them two square meals.         Moreover, since Gujarat has served as a wake up call for Mr A. B.Vajpayee making him cognizant of the problems faced by refugees. There are greater chances that his philonthropism will now drawout to Kashmiri Pandits also and  would goad him to launch measures to improve the living conditions of a community languishing in ignominity for long.


The author is the Managing Editor of Weekly Kashur Gazette published from New Delhi.

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