Killing of Pandits and Indian track record

The tragic killing of 24 pundits in Pulwama, a district of the Indian-held Kashmir is not the only incident of its kind. Not long ago, Chattisingpura and a number of other cities and towns have witnessed dozens of people from religious minorities were brutally massacred by the unidentified assailants. Without an exception, the Indian government had been putting the blame of its failure in maintaining law and order either on militant groups or the government of Pakistan. By and large world community had bought the Indian words and condemned the incidents.

Interestingly on the other hand, the militants groups have not only been condemning the massacres but along with the common people also observed strikes to show their protest and sympathy with a grieved families on various occasions. Notwithstanding claims and counter claims, it has become almost a mystery to find out real culprits of the massacres. However, it has always been a big question mark before everyone as to who is the natural beneficiary of such tragic incidents? Who is served best by these violent attacks against innocents people including children and women? Even the latest incident claimed the lives of 11 women and two children.

Being a Kashmir watcher, one would start from some recent statements by the Indian flock while a few from the independent sources which give some clue to the killers of the innocent Kashmiris. About the Chattisingpura and Pathribal incidents which happened in March 2000, Sheikh Mustafa Kamal, the youngest son of Sheik Abdullah, told BBC, “The Indian Army was responsible for the massacre of 21 Sikh farmers and the cold-blooded killing of five Muslims.” Five Muslims were killed by the Indian Army in a jungle portraying them as foreign militants who carried out killing in Chattisingpura incident. However, later the DNA tests of the slain Muslims proved their local origins, thus rejecting the Indian claims. The National Conference leader, who was thrice minister during Farooq Abdullah government in 1983 to March 2002, admitted that the Indian Army was responsible for the hundreds of deaths in Kashmir. Neither New Delhi nor the Srinagar government has come out to contradict Kamal’s revelations against the security forces. The credibility and significance of serious allegation come from are very fact that the accuser is a responsible pro-Indian politician with close links with the establishment.

The Indian government has always been keen to term Pakistan and the militants responsible for mass migration of Pandits from the valley. The Pandits have to put up in the camps amid pathetic living conditions. They belonged to a respectable community of the Valley for whom people had high regard who enjoyed cordial relations with the Kashmiri Muslims. Therefore, as a consequence of 1989 uprising in the valley, New Delhi appointed a new governor, Jag Mohan, to contain and crush the resistance struggle. Lamentably, immediately after he took over, Jag Mohan unleashed mass repression. Meanwhile, the Pandits suddenly quit the Valley leaving India to scream to give it a communal colour. Obviously, putting the blame on the militants for this mass migration was any easy excuse. Thanks to the Indian propaganda machinery, the New Delhi’s notion has become an accepted truth throughout the world over the years. Very recently former Indian deputy foreign minister Omar Abdullah has come up with a total contradiction of the Indian claims. According to The Hindu, he blamed the then former governor (now union minister), Jag Mohan, for the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley. Recalling the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990, the newspaper quotes Abdullah as saying, “People are well aware of how the then governor Jag Mohan, under an organised conspiracy, facilitated their migration.” This confession has changed the whole scenario and exposed the Indian propaganda tactics.

Keeping in mind all these statements, one can see the cruelty with which New Delhi is dealing with the Kashmiris. Undoubtedly, India exploited these incidents for its benefits. For instance, during the 1990s, the world community was quite concerned about the uprising in Kashmir, asking the Indians to consider the Kashmiri demand. Owing to repetition of such incidents, the freedom struggle became communalised, and Indian, taking benefit of the situation, presented it as a fundamentalist and extremist movement to the world. The Indian version was well marketed in all the important world capitals and met success in underplaying the Kashmiri freedom struggle. A few catastrophic events that took place when high level delegates were visiting New Delhi and Islamabad gave a serious to blow to the image of the movement. The visit of the American dignitaries was completely overshadowed and put Pakistan on critical position.

Resorting to mass massacre to carry forward the national interest is not new phenomena in the world politics. Ironically though, it has become a permanent feature of Indian politics. For instance, some recent happenings shed good amount of light on the phenomenon i.e. On Nov 2, Delhi police claimed that they had killed two Lashkar-i-Taiba militants in the Ansal Plaza in south Delhi. Within a day, Hari Krishna’s eye witness account turned the tables against the Delhi police. He said, “The incident was staged or a fake encounter.” He believed that the two slain men were unarmed and appeared drugged and unsteady on their feet when the police shot them. In a similar fashion, the Indian agencies made a case against a renowned Kashmiri journalist, Iftikhar Geelani who was accused of being in possession of a document about deployment of Army in some sector of J&K. It took less than a week to prove that the document was a published paper by an Islamabad-based think tank. Still, Geelani had to wait for 6 months to be released from the jail. Besides other examples, Gujarat is a classic manifestation of Delhi’s sick mentality in dealing with the Kashmir uprising.

Many well-paced Kashmiris from across the LoC link recent killings with the BJP versus PDP political tussle. Mufi’s regime has expressed commitment to release all the innocent and political detainees besides investigating around the reasons or whereabouts of 6,000 missing Kashmiris. Mufti has also been advocating two-way parallel dialogue i.e. with the pro-freedom groups as well as with Islamabad. The BJP’s state unit and central government both posed a stiff resistance against the Mufti’s plan. Ultimately Mufi Sayeed had to retreat for the time-being. He, however, is still adamant to advance his views. After the fresh killing of Hindu Pandits, Mufi has no option but to take harsh stand in condemning the freedom fighters. Delhi has again emerged victorious in the world capitals which are advising Pakistan to control the militant. While IHK chief minister is forced to keep mum, the Indian external ministry and its pro-active media have reached new heights in maligning Pakistan. For the time being, the freedom fighter and Islamabad are on the defensive with only issuing condemnation and clarifying their position. Pakistan always insists on independent investigation of the every happening while Delhi does not care what results emerge from the probes by its very own agencies.

Being an independent observer, one suggest that it is high time for the Indian strategists and foreign policy experts to rethink means applied to put off the flames of resistance in the Himalayan state. The inquiry in the massacre of minorities and the killings of top Kashmiri leaders should be conducted by independent, neutral investigators or observers. This would not only deter the culprits but also reduce chances of their repeat. The best course, still, is initiation of dialogue with the Kashmiri leadership as well as Pakistan.

The writer is a specialist on dynamics of Jammu and Kashmir conflict and India-Pakistan relations. He has recently visited Indian-Held Jammu and Kashmir.