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Sabrang
Sabrang
Communalism

Beyond Kashmir Files, a call for reason

Vidya Bhushan Rawat 19 Mar 2022

Kashmir files

I have not seen the film Kashmir Files but there is enough debate around the film on social media, on TV channels and elsewhere. Many persons in high positions are so 'proud' of it that the governments in states are asking their 'employees' to watch it. The Prime Minister of India too has been deeply 'influenced' by the film and his party, leaders, and cadres are going overboard to promote the film. Several state governments have already made it tax free.

Many people argue that, ' what is the issue if people are watching Kashmir files. It is about Kashmiri Pandits who faced 'ethnic cleansing' by the Pakistan sponsored Islamic terrorists; that the 'rest' of the country 'except' those with affiliations to the rightwing sangh parivar and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), did not speak up for them'.  Rather than holding Pakistan accountable for its act and misadventure in Kashmir, the sanghis and their ilk have made –yet again--the entire Indian Muslim the scapegoats and the villain of the piece.  For the BJP, the purpose is clear that they want to keep the communal pot boiling and given the inability of the 'secular' forces to respond to these issues with courage and conviction, Hindutva gains ultimately.

It is also argued that the film does not refer to former Prime Minister, VP Singh, under whose regime the Pandits faced mass displacement from Kashmir.  The Congress and some 'liberals' are bringing V P Singh into picture and putting the blame on him for the mass migration of Kashmiri Pandits out of the valley into Jammu and the rest of India. However, the incidents of 1989-90 will have to be seen in the broader atmosphere prevailing in the valley, also caused by the earlier, inept handling of the situation by a previous prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi.

There is an emergent unanimity around who is the villain of the story. Both the opposition Congress and some liberals, now point to V P Singh, who was the prime minister of India at the time. Despite being one of India's most honest and secular political leaders, V P Singh remains the target of this calumny and slander by many of India's intellectuals and activists, many of whom are both brahmanical and seculars who in any case find in him someone culpable of the 'Mandal sin'. That implementation of Mandal commission report providing 27% quota in the government services to other backward communities was the biggest challenge to brahmanical hegemony both in politics and governance. This radical move is today openly embraced by all the political parties. Let us discuss some of these issues and the hypocrisy of sections of the political elite.

Is VP Singh responsible for Kashmiri crisis?

Let us discuss whether V P Singh is responsible for what happened with Kashmiri Pandits. The Kashmir issue is historical and one cannot deny the fact that the roots of it lies in our denial of the situation there and imposition of puppet regimes there.  So, let us discuss some events that took place in Kashmir while V P Singh was in power from December 1989 to November 1990, that is, for nearly 11 months.

Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, a former Congressman from Jammu and Kashmir, contested from Mujjaffarnagar and won the elections. V P Singh government assumed office on December 2, 1989 and Mufti Sayeed was made the Home Minister in VP Singh’s cabinet.  Within 48 hours after taking charge of the government, VP Singh made a historic visit to the Golden Temple, along with his cabinet that included Devi Lal, Inder Kumar Gujral and Mufti Sayeed. Unfortunately, the situation in Jammu and Kashmir was turning volatile due to the highly unpopular government of Farooq Abdullah which came to power due to allegedly high rigging during the elections.

Jagmohan, a controversial bureaucrat with roots of anti-democratic conduct even during the infamous Emergency of 1977, was made the governor of Jammu and Kashmir. This appointment was certainly due to the pressure of BJP, a party that had given outside support to the government in power. Besides the pressure from the BJP, according to the autobiography of VP Singh, home minister, Mufti Sayeed also played a role in the appointment of Jagmohan due to local politics of Jammu and Kashmir. 

Then, on December 8, 1989, home minister Mufti Sayeed's daughter, Rubaiya Sayeed was kidnapped by the terrorists of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front. It was a big blow to the government, soon after assumption of office. Events in Jammu and Kashmir were spiralling out of control.  Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah was said to be holidaying in London during that period while his state was burning. A question that begs an answer is, how was the daughter of the Union Home Minister kidnapped? Were no precautions taken to avoid such acts? General K V Krishna Rao who was then the governor could do little to handle the situation. When Jagmohan was appointed the governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah resigned in protest and the state was placed under president's rule. Jagmohan was 'well respected' by the Hindus but considered a villain by Muslims for his highhandedness in dealing with the situation in which a large number of Muslims youths were arrested by the police and kept in jail.

One must not ignore the historical facts of the Jammu Kashmir problem lies in privileged section of Hindus resenting the  1950 law entitled Land Estate Abolition Act' which was responsible for ending Zamindari in the state which hurt the class and financial 'interests' of Kashmiri Pandits and Dogras who benefited under Maharaja Hari Singh's rule. The 'Hindus' could not accept this policy move though not all Hindus were Zamindars. However, the powerful Hindu Zamindar lobby who were opinion makers and the political elite successfully portrayed the issue as a Hindu-Muslim issue.  Issues within Jammu and Kashmir cannot be used or made an excuse to settle other political scores and need the honest introspection on behalf of all.

The wider Indian leadership has always wanted Jammu and Kashmir to be their 'secular tag' while the militants in the valley wanted to eliminate Hindus and Muslims who were pro Indian. Still under the dynamic leadership of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Jammu and Kashmir was solidly behind India and we had a leader who had huge influence on the Kashmiri masses. In the 1980s, Sheikh Saheb was not in good health and slowly his son Farooq Abdullah was being seen as his legitimate heir, but, by then, the situation in the valley was getting out of control. So various political as well as 'national' events in the early 1980s can be said to be the cause behind the unrest in Kashmir which compelled the Kashmiri Pandits as well as Muslims to migrate the valley and settle in either Jammu region or other parts of the country.

Indira Gandhi's dominant politics and looking for a puppet regime

So it can be said that the roots of migration of the Pandits from Kashmir actually started after Mrs Indira Gandhi returned as Prime Minister again in 1980. Jammu and Kashmir that time was being ruled by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, the undisputed leader of Kashmiri nationalist movement. At the end of his life, Sheikh got his son Farooq appointed as President of National Conference in 1981. After the death of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah in 1982, Farooq Abdullah became the chief minister of the state. He was a different man, full of ideas and wanted to be part of the broader coalition that was emerging in India against Indira Gandhi particularly on the issue of states and their autonomy. The initiative started with Andhra Pradesh chief minister, N T Rama Rao and involved several other non-Congress chief ministers including Rama Krishna Hegde and those from left parties. Indira Gandhi wanted to have an alliance with National Conference but under Farooq, it was not ready to do so.

In 1983, when the West Indian Cricket team came to India to play a full series of six one day and six test match series, one of the one day international was held at the Sher-e-Kashmir stadium in Srinagar but the atmosphere in the stadium was absolutely hostile to India.  Various anti India groups were active in the valley and it was a concern for the then government headed by Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. As Farooq was new in politics and trying to ally with the opposition parties, particularly various chief ministers who were not comfortable with Indira Gandhi, the Centre wanted to dismiss Farooq Abdullah but governor B K Nehru refused to oblige and the result was he was removed. Jagmohan, an old loyalist who was infamous for his 'excesses' during emergency, particularly the famous Turkman gate slum demolition case, was made the governor in April 1984. Indira had full trust in him and acknowledged it in the form of Padma Shri awarded to him in 1971 and the Padma Bhushan in 1977 for his 'services' to the nation. 

Within a short period of time, he was at loggerheads with the chief minister who enjoyed a majority in the house. How do you remove a chief minister who enjoyed a majority in the house. The old Congress model came handy for Jagmohan who created a rival group in the party. The result was a split in the National Conference with Farooq's brother in law Ghulam Muhammad Shah was made chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir in August 1984.  This was a sad story of a leader who was determined to topple state governments who had enough majority in the Vidhan Sabha. In October 1984, Mrs Indira Gandhi was assassinated.  Jammu and Kashmir was witnessing many upheavals during the period. Under G.M Shah, Kashmir began to polarise again.

Rajiv Gandhi's Hindutva politics alienated Kashmiris further

The impact of unlocking the doors of Ram Temple became the turning point for this polarisation in the Kashmir valley. There were riots in Kashmir in which homes of Hindus were attacked and their properties were targeted. Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister and, arguably, the 1984 mandate to Congress was majoritarian. Between November 1-3, 1984 following the assassination, a brutal anti-Sikh pogrom was conducted in the nation’s capital where close to 3,000 Sikhs were murdered in targeted killings. Elections that brought Rajiv Gandhi to power took place in December 1984. Rajiv followed his mother's footsteps.

The mischief of opening locks of Ram Janamabhumi at Ayodhya in February 1986 and mishandling of the Shah Bano case, his government was being seen in the valley as trying to push Indian Muslims to the wall. These actions at the national level fuelled the anti-India Pakistani supporter groups in the Valley who targeted Hindus and Kashmiri Pandits. Riots in Anantnag were the last straw. As the atmosphere continued to be intimidating for both Hindus and pro Indian Muslims, many of them had already started migrating to safer districts in the Jammu region.

Rajiv Gandhi, worried about the repercussion of anti-Hindu sentiments in the valley dismissed the government of Ghulam Muhammad Shah in 1986. There is no doubt that Delhi wanted a puppet regime for most of the time in Jammu and Kashmir. Later the relationship between Farooq and Rajiv improved resulting in an alliance between the National Conference and the Congress Party. New Elections were called out in 1987 which brought back Farooq Abdullah to power. These elections were actually considered thoroughly rigged and had no acceptability in the valley where militancy was returning. It is also well-known that democratic deficit ultimately gives rise to dissension and violence.

When Jawaharlal Nehru went to the UN against Pakistan's invasion on Jammu and Kashmir and then promised a plebiscite, it was the thought of winning over the people through democratic means. Jawaharlal Nehru's policy was dubbed a blunder by many and subsequently his daughter Indira Gandhi started dealing with the issue more and more administratively.

After the demise of the tallest leader of Jammu Kashmir Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, the centre played different games in Jammu & Kashmir. It also made the 'National Conference' led by Dr Farooq Abdullah realise that they could not move without being part of New Delhi's establishment. Confrontation with the centre was not useful for a border state but then Farooq Abdullah was considered as the 'stooge' of India by many in the valley yet he continued to defend the Indian flag and constitution in Jammu and Kashmir.

Turmoil in Kashmir and absence of Farooq Abdullah

General K V Krishna Rao succeeded Jagmohan as governor of Jammu Kashmir between July 1989 to January 1990 when the situation in Jammu Kashmir was extremely difficult and deteriorating. It was thought that the veteran General would be able to handle it both administratively and politically but after the Rajiv Gandhi government lost the election and V P Singh assumed office, the anti-India sentiment grew. In fact, for the first time, the rest of the country saw the protest in Kashmir on their TV sets within their homes. The mishandling of Rubaiyya Sayeed kidnapping by the VP Singh government -- and the release of terrorists to protect her life-- was a dark chapter.

It was clear that Farooq Abdullah had no understanding of the issue that time and was accused of inept handling. Sadly, he was not even there in the state for over a month when the crisis happened. It was reported that he was in the UK and USA for nearly one month under the pretext of getting medical treatment.  No doubt, Farooq Abdullah is a secular leader but at that time completely disconnected with the Kashmir population. Most of the people felt that he was the spokesperson of the government of India.  When the Union government took the step to make Jagmohan governor --and as a protest Farooq Abdullah resigned—the state was placed under the President Rule.

On December 8, 1989, the kidnapping of the Union Home Minister's daughter changed everything. Were the Indian security agencies unable to provide security to the family of the Union Home Minister who hailed from the valley? While the release of terrorist was not a good idea, should VP Singh alone be blamed for it? His was a coalition government and the prime minister had just assumed charge. He sent a team of senior leaders including Arif Mohammad Khan and Inder Kumar Gujral to negotiate and do the needful. Questions should also be asked to Arif Khan, now governor of Kerala as to what was his role in the release of the militants. If he was unhappy with it then why didn't he resign or protest? We never heard that he protested or resigned.

It is clear that Kashmiri separatists could not digest a Kashmiri leader as India's home minister and V P Singh's choice of home minister impacted Muslims in the rest of the country. This case of kidnapping of his daughter was an absolute failure of the government as it allowed the terrorists and anti-India people to dictate terms and conditions. A good will gesture by a man who is now being vilified, would have made a soothing effect in the psyche of the people of the state.  V P Singh making a Kashmiri Muslim as union Home Minister was historic but it failed because of the inept handling of the situation by Farooq led administration which collapsed completely. 

When Farooq and Jagmohan became part of NDA under Vajpayee

The Kashmir story does not end here. It exposes more hypocrisy of those in power. In 1999, Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the Prime Minister of India and he ran his government till 2004. Farooq Abdullah was the Chief Minister of Jammu Kashmir and his son Omar Abdullah was Minister of State, External Affairs in the same government. In fact, Omar went to the historic Durban Summit against racism and xenophobia and claimed that there is no caste discrimination in India.  Now, the most 'fascinating' part of the story is that Mr Jagmohan too was a Minister in the Vajpayee cabinet. So Farooq was part of NDA which had Jagmohan as Minister and he did not oppose inclusion of his son in the same cabinet.

Look at the Farooq of 1990 when he resigned as soon as Jagmohan was sent as the governor of J & K. Now the main question is why have all these worthies done nothing and no questions asked? What efforts were made by either the BJP or NDA or UPA to rehabilitate the displaced Kashmiris, many of them were Kashmiri Muslims. The fact is many people blame Jag Mohan instigating Kashmiri Pandits to migrate to polarise the situation and take strongest possible action against the 'militants'. 

Let us speak about some other facts in the valley. As per reports from 1989-2004 a total number of 219 Kashmiri Pandits were killed though the sangh parivar makes the numbers look in thousands.  Secondly, the total number of internally displaced people is still not clearly known but it could be between 70,000 to one lakh families. It could be more. It can be easily said that Jagmohan was part of the problem of a government and an administration who played the majoritarian/Hindu Card and was the darling of not merely the Hindutva forces, who celebrate him today but the Gandhis too. In fact, all the legitimacy to Jag Mohan was provided by the Gandhis.

Jammu and Kashmir is a political problem and not really an administrative one. Undeniably, Kashmiri Pandits faced trauma as nobody would like to leave his place of birth and not return. That pain is like those who faced it during the partition of India. This is the biggest one. Kashmir files do not resolve the issue but put the blame of the migration of the Kashmiri Pandits on Muslims as well as the non BJP leadership. This is disturbing to say the least. It is the story of Indian leadership's political and administrative failure.

The Kashmiri Pandit story can only be resolved through a political process where Kashmiri people matter. The current regime has branded all those who stood by India and felt pride in being Indian, as anti-national. Farooq Abdullah might have been a failure but he remained a die-hard Indian. Mufti Sayeed's daughter Mehbooba Mufti's People's Democratic Party was in alliance with BJP. Why were these issues never resolved?

Using Kasmiri Pandit story to whip up anti Muslim sentiments will not solve the issue but exacerbate things further There is nothing wrong in making a film and portraying the condition of a community but Kashmir crisis is not between Hindus and Muslims but between Pakistani sponsored terrorism and the idea of India. An issue cannot be made a tool to spread poison and spread hatred.

Historical facts used to selectively to spread poison and hatred

Creative community must work with sensitivity on the issues of human rights and oppression but if it becomes a propaganda tool of the ruling establishment then it will only poison the minds of the people. If Kashmiri Pandits were forced to exile by those who had a vision of Islamic Kashmir then how could they be the agent of those who want to do the same with Muslim minorities in Hindutva India?

India has witnessed numerous hatred based on caste against Dalits by the dominant caste Hindus and the people keep quiet on the same. Shankar Bigha, Tsundur, Karmchedu, Bharatpur, Lakshmanpur Bathe are well known to be documented. Nobody can forget what happened to Nellie and Hashimpura-Maliana. Of course, everywhere, the victims were Dalits and minorities. It is also a fact that the majority community did not support the perpetrators of the crime but certainly remained silent because of fear or political compulsion.  It is a fact that in any conflict while not all people participate, the silence of the vast majority helps creating false binaries. This in turn helps all those who do not want people to come together whether this side of the boundary or the other.

It also brings us to the fact to understand that we all have to live in harmony as there is no other answer. Every community is a majority somewhere and minority elsewhere.  All of us migrate at some point of time to other places for bettering our lives and seek equal rights for all. We need to look at every issue with greater sensitivity towards resolving it and learning lessons from it so that such incidents do not happen again but using historical wrongs to perpetrate another wrong will always be counterproductive and will not take us anywhere.

Kashmiri Pandits were wronged and so were Kashmiri Dalits too particularly the Balmikis or Wattals who were manual scavengers or Safai Karmcharis. They did not have any right under any regime but how many raised their voices against their plight? We must fight against institutional violation and make our laws stronger to have no such incidents repeated. Kashmiri Pandits should not allow themselves to be used as a political tool by the Hindutva propagandists to vitiate the atmosphere by vilifying the Muslims community in the rest of the country.

 

Beyond Kashmir Files, a call for reason

Kashmir files

I have not seen the film Kashmir Files but there is enough debate around the film on social media, on TV channels and elsewhere. Many persons in high positions are so 'proud' of it that the governments in states are asking their 'employees' to watch it. The Prime Minister of India too has been deeply 'influenced' by the film and his party, leaders, and cadres are going overboard to promote the film. Several state governments have already made it tax free.

Many people argue that, ' what is the issue if people are watching Kashmir files. It is about Kashmiri Pandits who faced 'ethnic cleansing' by the Pakistan sponsored Islamic terrorists; that the 'rest' of the country 'except' those with affiliations to the rightwing sangh parivar and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), did not speak up for them'.  Rather than holding Pakistan accountable for its act and misadventure in Kashmir, the sanghis and their ilk have made –yet again--the entire Indian Muslim the scapegoats and the villain of the piece.  For the BJP, the purpose is clear that they want to keep the communal pot boiling and given the inability of the 'secular' forces to respond to these issues with courage and conviction, Hindutva gains ultimately.

It is also argued that the film does not refer to former Prime Minister, VP Singh, under whose regime the Pandits faced mass displacement from Kashmir.  The Congress and some 'liberals' are bringing V P Singh into picture and putting the blame on him for the mass migration of Kashmiri Pandits out of the valley into Jammu and the rest of India. However, the incidents of 1989-90 will have to be seen in the broader atmosphere prevailing in the valley, also caused by the earlier, inept handling of the situation by a previous prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi.

There is an emergent unanimity around who is the villain of the story. Both the opposition Congress and some liberals, now point to V P Singh, who was the prime minister of India at the time. Despite being one of India's most honest and secular political leaders, V P Singh remains the target of this calumny and slander by many of India's intellectuals and activists, many of whom are both brahmanical and seculars who in any case find in him someone culpable of the 'Mandal sin'. That implementation of Mandal commission report providing 27% quota in the government services to other backward communities was the biggest challenge to brahmanical hegemony both in politics and governance. This radical move is today openly embraced by all the political parties. Let us discuss some of these issues and the hypocrisy of sections of the political elite.

Is VP Singh responsible for Kashmiri crisis?

Let us discuss whether V P Singh is responsible for what happened with Kashmiri Pandits. The Kashmir issue is historical and one cannot deny the fact that the roots of it lies in our denial of the situation there and imposition of puppet regimes there.  So, let us discuss some events that took place in Kashmir while V P Singh was in power from December 1989 to November 1990, that is, for nearly 11 months.

Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, a former Congressman from Jammu and Kashmir, contested from Mujjaffarnagar and won the elections. V P Singh government assumed office on December 2, 1989 and Mufti Sayeed was made the Home Minister in VP Singh’s cabinet.  Within 48 hours after taking charge of the government, VP Singh made a historic visit to the Golden Temple, along with his cabinet that included Devi Lal, Inder Kumar Gujral and Mufti Sayeed. Unfortunately, the situation in Jammu and Kashmir was turning volatile due to the highly unpopular government of Farooq Abdullah which came to power due to allegedly high rigging during the elections.

Jagmohan, a controversial bureaucrat with roots of anti-democratic conduct even during the infamous Emergency of 1977, was made the governor of Jammu and Kashmir. This appointment was certainly due to the pressure of BJP, a party that had given outside support to the government in power. Besides the pressure from the BJP, according to the autobiography of VP Singh, home minister, Mufti Sayeed also played a role in the appointment of Jagmohan due to local politics of Jammu and Kashmir. 

Then, on December 8, 1989, home minister Mufti Sayeed's daughter, Rubaiya Sayeed was kidnapped by the terrorists of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front. It was a big blow to the government, soon after assumption of office. Events in Jammu and Kashmir were spiralling out of control.  Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah was said to be holidaying in London during that period while his state was burning. A question that begs an answer is, how was the daughter of the Union Home Minister kidnapped? Were no precautions taken to avoid such acts? General K V Krishna Rao who was then the governor could do little to handle the situation. When Jagmohan was appointed the governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah resigned in protest and the state was placed under president's rule. Jagmohan was 'well respected' by the Hindus but considered a villain by Muslims for his highhandedness in dealing with the situation in which a large number of Muslims youths were arrested by the police and kept in jail.

One must not ignore the historical facts of the Jammu Kashmir problem lies in privileged section of Hindus resenting the  1950 law entitled Land Estate Abolition Act' which was responsible for ending Zamindari in the state which hurt the class and financial 'interests' of Kashmiri Pandits and Dogras who benefited under Maharaja Hari Singh's rule. The 'Hindus' could not accept this policy move though not all Hindus were Zamindars. However, the powerful Hindu Zamindar lobby who were opinion makers and the political elite successfully portrayed the issue as a Hindu-Muslim issue.  Issues within Jammu and Kashmir cannot be used or made an excuse to settle other political scores and need the honest introspection on behalf of all.

The wider Indian leadership has always wanted Jammu and Kashmir to be their 'secular tag' while the militants in the valley wanted to eliminate Hindus and Muslims who were pro Indian. Still under the dynamic leadership of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Jammu and Kashmir was solidly behind India and we had a leader who had huge influence on the Kashmiri masses. In the 1980s, Sheikh Saheb was not in good health and slowly his son Farooq Abdullah was being seen as his legitimate heir, but, by then, the situation in the valley was getting out of control. So various political as well as 'national' events in the early 1980s can be said to be the cause behind the unrest in Kashmir which compelled the Kashmiri Pandits as well as Muslims to migrate the valley and settle in either Jammu region or other parts of the country.

Indira Gandhi's dominant politics and looking for a puppet regime

So it can be said that the roots of migration of the Pandits from Kashmir actually started after Mrs Indira Gandhi returned as Prime Minister again in 1980. Jammu and Kashmir that time was being ruled by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, the undisputed leader of Kashmiri nationalist movement. At the end of his life, Sheikh got his son Farooq appointed as President of National Conference in 1981. After the death of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah in 1982, Farooq Abdullah became the chief minister of the state. He was a different man, full of ideas and wanted to be part of the broader coalition that was emerging in India against Indira Gandhi particularly on the issue of states and their autonomy. The initiative started with Andhra Pradesh chief minister, N T Rama Rao and involved several other non-Congress chief ministers including Rama Krishna Hegde and those from left parties. Indira Gandhi wanted to have an alliance with National Conference but under Farooq, it was not ready to do so.

In 1983, when the West Indian Cricket team came to India to play a full series of six one day and six test match series, one of the one day international was held at the Sher-e-Kashmir stadium in Srinagar but the atmosphere in the stadium was absolutely hostile to India.  Various anti India groups were active in the valley and it was a concern for the then government headed by Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. As Farooq was new in politics and trying to ally with the opposition parties, particularly various chief ministers who were not comfortable with Indira Gandhi, the Centre wanted to dismiss Farooq Abdullah but governor B K Nehru refused to oblige and the result was he was removed. Jagmohan, an old loyalist who was infamous for his 'excesses' during emergency, particularly the famous Turkman gate slum demolition case, was made the governor in April 1984. Indira had full trust in him and acknowledged it in the form of Padma Shri awarded to him in 1971 and the Padma Bhushan in 1977 for his 'services' to the nation. 

Within a short period of time, he was at loggerheads with the chief minister who enjoyed a majority in the house. How do you remove a chief minister who enjoyed a majority in the house. The old Congress model came handy for Jagmohan who created a rival group in the party. The result was a split in the National Conference with Farooq's brother in law Ghulam Muhammad Shah was made chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir in August 1984.  This was a sad story of a leader who was determined to topple state governments who had enough majority in the Vidhan Sabha. In October 1984, Mrs Indira Gandhi was assassinated.  Jammu and Kashmir was witnessing many upheavals during the period. Under G.M Shah, Kashmir began to polarise again.

Rajiv Gandhi's Hindutva politics alienated Kashmiris further

The impact of unlocking the doors of Ram Temple became the turning point for this polarisation in the Kashmir valley. There were riots in Kashmir in which homes of Hindus were attacked and their properties were targeted. Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister and, arguably, the 1984 mandate to Congress was majoritarian. Between November 1-3, 1984 following the assassination, a brutal anti-Sikh pogrom was conducted in the nation’s capital where close to 3,000 Sikhs were murdered in targeted killings. Elections that brought Rajiv Gandhi to power took place in December 1984. Rajiv followed his mother's footsteps.

The mischief of opening locks of Ram Janamabhumi at Ayodhya in February 1986 and mishandling of the Shah Bano case, his government was being seen in the valley as trying to push Indian Muslims to the wall. These actions at the national level fuelled the anti-India Pakistani supporter groups in the Valley who targeted Hindus and Kashmiri Pandits. Riots in Anantnag were the last straw. As the atmosphere continued to be intimidating for both Hindus and pro Indian Muslims, many of them had already started migrating to safer districts in the Jammu region.

Rajiv Gandhi, worried about the repercussion of anti-Hindu sentiments in the valley dismissed the government of Ghulam Muhammad Shah in 1986. There is no doubt that Delhi wanted a puppet regime for most of the time in Jammu and Kashmir. Later the relationship between Farooq and Rajiv improved resulting in an alliance between the National Conference and the Congress Party. New Elections were called out in 1987 which brought back Farooq Abdullah to power. These elections were actually considered thoroughly rigged and had no acceptability in the valley where militancy was returning. It is also well-known that democratic deficit ultimately gives rise to dissension and violence.

When Jawaharlal Nehru went to the UN against Pakistan's invasion on Jammu and Kashmir and then promised a plebiscite, it was the thought of winning over the people through democratic means. Jawaharlal Nehru's policy was dubbed a blunder by many and subsequently his daughter Indira Gandhi started dealing with the issue more and more administratively.

After the demise of the tallest leader of Jammu Kashmir Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, the centre played different games in Jammu & Kashmir. It also made the 'National Conference' led by Dr Farooq Abdullah realise that they could not move without being part of New Delhi's establishment. Confrontation with the centre was not useful for a border state but then Farooq Abdullah was considered as the 'stooge' of India by many in the valley yet he continued to defend the Indian flag and constitution in Jammu and Kashmir.

Turmoil in Kashmir and absence of Farooq Abdullah

General K V Krishna Rao succeeded Jagmohan as governor of Jammu Kashmir between July 1989 to January 1990 when the situation in Jammu Kashmir was extremely difficult and deteriorating. It was thought that the veteran General would be able to handle it both administratively and politically but after the Rajiv Gandhi government lost the election and V P Singh assumed office, the anti-India sentiment grew. In fact, for the first time, the rest of the country saw the protest in Kashmir on their TV sets within their homes. The mishandling of Rubaiyya Sayeed kidnapping by the VP Singh government -- and the release of terrorists to protect her life-- was a dark chapter.

It was clear that Farooq Abdullah had no understanding of the issue that time and was accused of inept handling. Sadly, he was not even there in the state for over a month when the crisis happened. It was reported that he was in the UK and USA for nearly one month under the pretext of getting medical treatment.  No doubt, Farooq Abdullah is a secular leader but at that time completely disconnected with the Kashmir population. Most of the people felt that he was the spokesperson of the government of India.  When the Union government took the step to make Jagmohan governor --and as a protest Farooq Abdullah resigned—the state was placed under the President Rule.

On December 8, 1989, the kidnapping of the Union Home Minister's daughter changed everything. Were the Indian security agencies unable to provide security to the family of the Union Home Minister who hailed from the valley? While the release of terrorist was not a good idea, should VP Singh alone be blamed for it? His was a coalition government and the prime minister had just assumed charge. He sent a team of senior leaders including Arif Mohammad Khan and Inder Kumar Gujral to negotiate and do the needful. Questions should also be asked to Arif Khan, now governor of Kerala as to what was his role in the release of the militants. If he was unhappy with it then why didn't he resign or protest? We never heard that he protested or resigned.

It is clear that Kashmiri separatists could not digest a Kashmiri leader as India's home minister and V P Singh's choice of home minister impacted Muslims in the rest of the country. This case of kidnapping of his daughter was an absolute failure of the government as it allowed the terrorists and anti-India people to dictate terms and conditions. A good will gesture by a man who is now being vilified, would have made a soothing effect in the psyche of the people of the state.  V P Singh making a Kashmiri Muslim as union Home Minister was historic but it failed because of the inept handling of the situation by Farooq led administration which collapsed completely. 

When Farooq and Jagmohan became part of NDA under Vajpayee

The Kashmir story does not end here. It exposes more hypocrisy of those in power. In 1999, Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the Prime Minister of India and he ran his government till 2004. Farooq Abdullah was the Chief Minister of Jammu Kashmir and his son Omar Abdullah was Minister of State, External Affairs in the same government. In fact, Omar went to the historic Durban Summit against racism and xenophobia and claimed that there is no caste discrimination in India.  Now, the most 'fascinating' part of the story is that Mr Jagmohan too was a Minister in the Vajpayee cabinet. So Farooq was part of NDA which had Jagmohan as Minister and he did not oppose inclusion of his son in the same cabinet.

Look at the Farooq of 1990 when he resigned as soon as Jagmohan was sent as the governor of J & K. Now the main question is why have all these worthies done nothing and no questions asked? What efforts were made by either the BJP or NDA or UPA to rehabilitate the displaced Kashmiris, many of them were Kashmiri Muslims. The fact is many people blame Jag Mohan instigating Kashmiri Pandits to migrate to polarise the situation and take strongest possible action against the 'militants'. 

Let us speak about some other facts in the valley. As per reports from 1989-2004 a total number of 219 Kashmiri Pandits were killed though the sangh parivar makes the numbers look in thousands.  Secondly, the total number of internally displaced people is still not clearly known but it could be between 70,000 to one lakh families. It could be more. It can be easily said that Jagmohan was part of the problem of a government and an administration who played the majoritarian/Hindu Card and was the darling of not merely the Hindutva forces, who celebrate him today but the Gandhis too. In fact, all the legitimacy to Jag Mohan was provided by the Gandhis.

Jammu and Kashmir is a political problem and not really an administrative one. Undeniably, Kashmiri Pandits faced trauma as nobody would like to leave his place of birth and not return. That pain is like those who faced it during the partition of India. This is the biggest one. Kashmir files do not resolve the issue but put the blame of the migration of the Kashmiri Pandits on Muslims as well as the non BJP leadership. This is disturbing to say the least. It is the story of Indian leadership's political and administrative failure.

The Kashmiri Pandit story can only be resolved through a political process where Kashmiri people matter. The current regime has branded all those who stood by India and felt pride in being Indian, as anti-national. Farooq Abdullah might have been a failure but he remained a die-hard Indian. Mufti Sayeed's daughter Mehbooba Mufti's People's Democratic Party was in alliance with BJP. Why were these issues never resolved?

Using Kasmiri Pandit story to whip up anti Muslim sentiments will not solve the issue but exacerbate things further There is nothing wrong in making a film and portraying the condition of a community but Kashmir crisis is not between Hindus and Muslims but between Pakistani sponsored terrorism and the idea of India. An issue cannot be made a tool to spread poison and spread hatred.

Historical facts used to selectively to spread poison and hatred

Creative community must work with sensitivity on the issues of human rights and oppression but if it becomes a propaganda tool of the ruling establishment then it will only poison the minds of the people. If Kashmiri Pandits were forced to exile by those who had a vision of Islamic Kashmir then how could they be the agent of those who want to do the same with Muslim minorities in Hindutva India?

India has witnessed numerous hatred based on caste against Dalits by the dominant caste Hindus and the people keep quiet on the same. Shankar Bigha, Tsundur, Karmchedu, Bharatpur, Lakshmanpur Bathe are well known to be documented. Nobody can forget what happened to Nellie and Hashimpura-Maliana. Of course, everywhere, the victims were Dalits and minorities. It is also a fact that the majority community did not support the perpetrators of the crime but certainly remained silent because of fear or political compulsion.  It is a fact that in any conflict while not all people participate, the silence of the vast majority helps creating false binaries. This in turn helps all those who do not want people to come together whether this side of the boundary or the other.

It also brings us to the fact to understand that we all have to live in harmony as there is no other answer. Every community is a majority somewhere and minority elsewhere.  All of us migrate at some point of time to other places for bettering our lives and seek equal rights for all. We need to look at every issue with greater sensitivity towards resolving it and learning lessons from it so that such incidents do not happen again but using historical wrongs to perpetrate another wrong will always be counterproductive and will not take us anywhere.

Kashmiri Pandits were wronged and so were Kashmiri Dalits too particularly the Balmikis or Wattals who were manual scavengers or Safai Karmcharis. They did not have any right under any regime but how many raised their voices against their plight? We must fight against institutional violation and make our laws stronger to have no such incidents repeated. Kashmiri Pandits should not allow themselves to be used as a political tool by the Hindutva propagandists to vitiate the atmosphere by vilifying the Muslims community in the rest of the country.

 

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