The Kashmir

February 18, 2012

The Snow Is Calling Once Again | #Kashmir


The Snow Is Calling Once Again 

By Ramesh Manvati

This time, I made my arrival quite early,

With the hope to embrace you tightly,

But, nowhere could you be seen.

Day in and day out, to meet you, I am so keen.

I am calling you once again.

Oh, Pandit ! Don’t you realise my pain?

The winter has set in yet again.

Have I to continue to seethe in pain?

I had called you in the past,

Your eerie silence has made me aghast.

Your roots, over five thousand years old, continue to seethe in pain.

I fail to understand what is the gain?

Over twenty painful years, we are already ages apart.

Your journey back home – not yet ready to start?

Seems, I have to bear, still, your being so upset.

To welcome you back, do I need to re-assure you,

That I will lay my best and thick velvety carpet?

Everything you have forgotten, so I feel.

Compelling me to remind you, with a fresh appeal.

On the onset of every winter, you would wait

for my arrival, with much zest and zeal.

And on my arrival from the heavens above,

within the warmth of your ancestral homes,

peeping through the doors and

through the windows-partly open,

or many a times from the ‘dub’ of your ‘bub’,

the leisure time you would enjoy,

gazing my elegant movements in sheer joy.

sonna sheen vollun dhaaray-dhaaray,

maharaaza raaza kumaaray aaw……”

some would merrily sing. And, at times, many

sipping ‘sheeri-chaai’ or even some hot ‘kehwa’

in the traditional ‘khos’ or a ‘kenzi-khos’,

held on the sleeve of your ‘pheran’,

prepared in a ‘samawaar’ and served by a ‘nosh’,

with a ‘garma-garm’ ‘taeil-woar’, ‘tomlla-tsaot’ or ‘ makkaai tsaot’,

or with it, even some enjoying ‘soa’tt’,

With a cosy ‘kaangar’ beneath your ‘pheran’;

The eldest among you, even smoking a ‘jajjeer’.

Forgotten? Occasional ‘shalfaa-malfaa’ , you had

with your toddlers to warm their hands and feet. And,

simultaneously narrating to them local folk-tales and lullabies.

Even ‘nav-sheen’ you celebrated,

in the company of your kith and kin,

music and dance; well dressed and decorated,

with the choicest of your dishes. And,

a ‘welcome drink’ would not be a sin,

even in the ancient times; just recheck

from the treasure of your ‘Neelmat Puraan’.

 

Remember? On my very first arrival,

the new brides you would routinely tease,

Forcing them to bring a ‘paschin’ – raw or cooked,

from their ‘maaluen’ with much ease.

Children would playfully sing everywhere,

sheena petto-petto, maama itto-itto…………”.

Even the stray dogs would dance merrily here and there,

on the roads, in streets or outside your ghetto.

You can be so forgetful, baffles me.

When I have not forgotten, how can you?

Walking, through your orchards and rice fields -spread across Kashyap’s valley.

Or through the towns and villages or ‘Sri-nagaree’ of goddess Sharada’s seat;

Through the serpentine and uneven lanes and narrow by-lanes,

with a ‘khraav’ or ‘pullhor’ or a long boot or a ‘duck-back’ shoe protecting your feet;

Your daily routine, even though being hurt, once in a while,

because of pervading ‘tulkattur’- exposing my frozen attitude,

would continue with serenity and great fortitude.

Even your cursing me at times – that, at times, I would mind,

while finding it difficult to move around.

Still, my cool but peaceful white cover on the ground,

over the surrounding houses, trees and the distant mountains,

lovely murmuring streams, though in deep sleep;

would make you overlook my hurt and dirt.

At the same time, no more feeling of being slighted, I am telling you.

Stray dogs, cows, crows and other perching birds,

without a fail and religiously you would feed, I still remember.

In the plains or atop a nearby hillock, temple bells you would ring,

Morning and evening, ‘kashiri leelaai’ you would sing.

As a habit, whether young or old; men or women,

busying yourself in the company of holy men,

always keeping your household, body and mind-neat and clean.

oftenly, you would praise my beauty and the surrounding scene.

My periodic arrivals and my stays

long or short, you enjoyed and cherished too.

I too enjoyed, let me now reveal to you,

your rolling me into a ‘sheena-mohneow’ occasionally-

in your ‘waaeri’, in the streets, or in nearby open fields. And,

even the ‘sheena-jung’ with your ‘mohalla’ friends.,

I remember vividly, why cannot you?

The vacations, children spent in their ‘maataamaal’, during the stay

of my old friends like ‘chillai-kallaan’, ‘chillai-khorrud’ and ‘chillai-buchcha’.

Remember? The sheer panic of being caught red handed,upon the sudden

bursting of a stolen egg – hidden inside the embers of your cosy ‘kaangar’ ;

Or, making and eating of a ‘mallai-kulfi’ on the ‘braer-k’anee’ of your residence,

secretly from the prying eyes of your elders including ‘bub’, ‘dyed’ or ‘baed- maej’,

 

Also, the ‘faaka’ many of you kept for the entire sacred month of ‘maag’;

Or the visit of your family priest, on the eve of ‘gora-trai’ of this month to your homes

with handmade pictures of ‘Saraswati’-blessing new brides and youngsters; and

exhorting them to continue the ancient tradition of learning.

I have just not forgotten; how can you?

hayrath-pooza’ was incomplete till, some of you, made my use.

That I had to be there even in the summer month of ‘haar’,

to defeat the evil designs of a tyrant Afghan ruler-Jabbar Khan,

and to uphold the sanctity of your sublime faith.

The popular tease – “wuchutoan yi jabbar jandha, haaras ti korrun vandha…..”

is an ample proof of my historical claim.

Even performing of your annual ‘jattae’n-ttae’n……..’,

on ‘teela-aettham’- concluding day of the sacred festival of hayrath’;

Or distribution of ‘dooen’ to ‘haenz’ children, curiously watching on the ‘yaarbal’ and,

offering of burning ‘chaeng’ to holy ‘Vitasta’ in the evening of the day,

Have you so conveniently forgotten?

I have not, how can you?

The aroma surrounding many of your winter festivals, rituals like

‘kheschri-maavas’, ‘gaada-batta’, ‘kaaw-punnim’, or

shishur’ of a new born child or a ‘nav-nosh’; And,

the twenty three day long ‘hayrath’ celebrations, still haunts me.

Such ancient festivities you will be observing in exile, so I earnestly hope.

Though, in an alien land, difficult it surely must be for you to cope.

The special dishes, as per your ‘reeth’, that you

prepared on such joyous occasions, still water my mouth.

Oh, Pandit ! Treat me back to that aroma and couth.

Decades have passed; have not heard a Lall-Vaakh,

“ hayrath maej aayay, marscha papar kyaaway………”

or “thukk-thukk, kuss chuv….”, nor seen anyone playing with cowries,

Please no more deprivations, I pray thee.

You cannot be so cruel to me.

Holding back the tears and trying to be brave.

My children – ‘shishar -ghaaent’, many now grown and

many on their way, hover in desperation. And,

for the warm kiss of your teeth continue to crave.

The winter has set-in, once again,

This time, I made my arrival quite early,

with the hope to embrace you tightly.

But, nowhere could you be seen.

Oh, Pandit ! I am reminding you once again,

Don’t you realize my seething pain?

Over two decades already, we continue to be apart,

Journey back home to your very own-‘Pannaen Maej-Kasheer’,

Still not yet ready to start???

      __________________________________________________________________________________

The writer , a Sr. Activist of Panun Kashmir, can be reached through e-mail : paannyaar@rediffmail.com /rameshmanvati@yahoo.co.in

        __________________________________________________________________________________

This poem is dedicated to the Youth of ‘Internally Displaced’ Kashmiri Pandit community ( now scattered across the globe) on the eve of “Ist International Kashmiri Pandit Youth Conference” organized under the aegis of Panun Kashmir, in Pune ( India), on 7- 8 January 2012


January 19, 2012

Future of Kashmiri Pandits | #Kashmir


Future of Kashmiri Pandits

  By B. Raman

It is 23 years today since Jammu & Kashmir saw the beginning of the ethnic-cleansing of the Kashmiri Pandits, the original inhabitants of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), from their homeland at the instigation of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) by a group of Kashmiri jihadi elements trained, armed and motivated by the ISI.

2. The lead in this act of ethnic-cleansing was initially taken by the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM). Other jihadi organisations, which subsequently came into existence after having been trained and armed by the ISI, kept the ethnic-cleansing going till practically all the Kashmiri Pandits were driven out after having been subjected to numerous indignities and brutalities such as rape of women, torture, forcible seizure of property belonging to the Pandits etc.

3. The Pandits, who survived these acts of indignities and brutalities, were forced to leave their homeland and seek shelter in camps for refugees set up in Jammu and Delhi. Within a few weeks of the outbreak of the ethnic cleansing, a majority of the Pandits found themselves reduced to the miserable status of refugees in their own country.

4. As the Pandits and their wifes and children were subjected to indignities and brutalities and driven out of their homeland, the State of India totally caught by surprise watched helplessly and pusillanimously, as the plans of the ISI to change the demographic composition of the Kashmir Valley in order to make it a predominantly Muslim area were sought to be implements by the jihadis trained by the ISI.

5. Neither V. P. Singh, who was the Prime Minister when the ethnic-cleansing was carried out nor any of his successors had the least idea of how to deal with the situation. There were various options available. I would cite only two. The first option was to direct the Army to re-establish Indian sovereignty over Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) and Gilgit-Baltistan as a punitive measure. Pakistan had by then acquired a military nuclear capability, but not a nuclear arsenal. It did not have a satisfactory delivery capability. We could have, therefore, easily re-taken the POK and Gilgit-Baltistan without fear of provoking a nuclear war. The V. P. Singh Government did not exercise this option.

6. The other option was to train and arm the Pandits and ask them to go back and re-occupy their property and fight against the ISI-trained jihadis. This option was carefully examined and given up as not advisable. There were legitimate fears that this option could polarise for ever the relations between the Muslims and the Hindus and play into the hands of the jihadis who wanted such polarisation.

7. The option finally chosen was to look after the Pandits in the refugee camps and other areas where they had settled down with their relatives and wait for the restoration of normalcy in the Valley so that these refugees could be helped to go back, re-establish their ownership of their property and resume a life of dignity as the residents of their traditional homeland.

8. The Pandits have been waiting for 23 years hoping that the day of their return with honour and security to their homeland would come. It has not so far despite the considerable improvement in the ground situation. In the meanwhile, the plight of the Pandits has been slowly forgotten. Everybody sheds crocodile tears over their sufferings, but there is nothing more by way of action. The future of the Kashmiri Pandits as an important dimension of the Kashmir problem is less and less talked about.

9. There was one man, who spent his years of retirement in attempts to ensure that the promises made by the nation to restore the honour and dignity of the Pandits was not forgotten. He took a lively interest in their future and interacted vigorously with leaders of the Government and opposition political parties to see that this dimension of the Kashmir problem was not forgotten.

10. His name was R. N. Kao, a Kashmiri himself, who was the legendary founding father of the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW). The Kashmir tragedy broke out five years after he finally retired from public service in 1984. From 1989 onwards till his death in 2002, he devoted a lot of his time to his self-assumed task of restoring the honour and dignity of the Pandits.

11. Since Kao’s death in 2002, the Kashmiri Pandits find themselves orphaned. There is no one at the political or bureaucratic level, who is prepared to come to the forefront, stick his neck out and demand action to restore the dignity and honour of the Pandits. Hopes that the BJP-led Government would pay lively attention to the future of the Pandits were sadly belied. The BJP-led Government was as confused and as inactive as any of the other Governments that had held office since 1989.

12. How to move forward? Two realities have to be kept in mind. Firstly, it is too late in the day to think of identifying and punishing those who were responsible for the ethnic-cleansing. Any ill-advised attempt to do so would complicate the situation further.

13. Secondly, the return of the Pandits to their homeland cannot be enforced unilaterally by the Governments of India and the State. It has to be the outcome of a consensus among different political parties of the State and leaders of different communities. The Government of India has a moral responsibility for working towards such a consensus. Presently, it has not been doing so. It should be made to do so through public pressure. It is time to stop meaningless breast-beating on the plight of the Pandits and their future. It is time to work for concrete ways of enabling their return to their homeland in dignity and honour.

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com  Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Source 

August 5, 2011

Kashmiri Pandits, Sri Lankan Tamils and Indian hypocrisy – Reply to Mr Aditya Sinha | #Kashmir

Filed under: Kashmir — Tags: , , , , , — TheKashmir @ 12:10 pm

Different versions of Kashmir in political, social and religious context are nothing new. Mr. Aditya Sinha’s article “Kashmiri Pandits, Sri Lankan Tamils and Indian hypocrisy” that appeared in Daily News & Analysis (DNA) on 31st July 2011 prompted me to write back. I disagree with Mr. Sinha’s view regarding Kashmiri Pandits.

It was surprising to see equation between Kashmiri Pandits and Sri Lankan Tamils. Although we are sympathetic towards Sri Lankan Tamils, one cannot equate the two as unlike the Sri Lankan Tamils, Kashmiri Pandits are citizens of India. Our main concern should be first for the citizens of our own country and then others.

The onset of turmoil in Kashmir valley in 1989-1990 was marked with the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Kashmiri Pandits. Ethnic cleansing is an attempt to create ethnically homogeneous geographic areas through the deportation or forcible displacement of persons belonging to particular ethnic groups. United Nations defines ethnic cleansing as rendering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or intimidation to remove from a given area persons of another ethnic or religious group. Many Kashmiri Muslims (and not all) joined the so called freedom movement and chose to be part of armed struggle. The objective of militancy in Kashmir was to create a valley homogenous in its religious (read Islamic) character. To create such homogeneity, Kashmiri Hindu minority was forced to leave the valley.

Ethnic cleansing sometimes involves the removal of all physical vestiges of the targeted group through the destruction of monuments, cemeteries, and houses of worship. Ethnic cleansing may involve death or displacement where a population is identified for removal from an area. In Kashmir, houses of minority Hindu Pandits were burned; temples were destroyed. Notices were pasted on the walls of Pandit houses mentioning them to leave the valley or to perish.

Genocide may be used as means to carry out ethnic cleansing. Genocide is defined as the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group. 

Article 2 of 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) defines genocide as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: 

  1. Killing members of the group;
  2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in a ruling on 11 June 1999 stated that “Against the stern definition of the Genocide Convention, the Commission is constrained to observe that while acts akin to genocide have occurred with respect to Kashmiri Pandits and that, indeed, in the minds and utterances of some of the militants a genocide-type design may exist, the crimes against the Kashmiri Pandits are near-Genocide and not Genocide.”

In the speech on 7 April 2004 the UN Secretary General said, “Wherever civilians are deliberately targeted because they belong to a particular community, we are in the presence of potential, if not actual, genocide.”

1990s were painted with genocide of Kashmiri Hindus. Many Kashmiri Hindus were murdered. Kashmiri Hindus were targeted by the militants in 1989 and afterwards until they didn’t left the valley. The official figure of Kashmir Pandit killings is 219. Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), a valley based NGO, disputes the government figure. In its first list of asurvey, Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS) suggests that 399 Pandits were killed and the list of KP killings is still incomplete. KPSS did the survey in 2008 and 2009 to find the exact number of Pandits killed, which revealed that 302 members of the community were killed in 1990 alone. Selective killing of minority Hindus amounts to genocide.

In exile, thousands of Kashmiri Pandits have died due to change in environmental conditions. Kashmiri Pandits were forced to live in hostile conditions in make-shift camps in Jammu/Delhi. During summers, the average temperature of Kashmir would generally be in thirties while in Jammu/Delhi, it is in forties. Think of 45ºC and 6-8 people living in a tent. The habitat changed resulted in sun-strokes, anaemia etc. which caused many deaths. Moreover, deaths happened due to snake bites as slum-like conditions of camps became the breeding ground for snakes. Even after 21 years, some are still living in camps.

Those Kashmiris who chose/supported the gun are responsible for the grievances of all Kashmiris whether Kashmiri Muslims or Kashmiri Hindus. It is amusing when the separatists (some of them were terrorists in 1990s) state that they are in favour of return and rehabilitation of Kashmir Pandits. Because they are the same people who were responsible for the exodus of minority Hindus from the valley.

Kashmiri Pandits have been denied justice from past 21 years. The human rights violation of Kashmiri Pandits ought to be addressed now. Kashmiri Pandits haven’t suffered physically only but culturally and psychologically also. Kashmiri Pandits have been suffering in a political-religious war in which they don’t form any part.

Author : Varad Varenya [ Twitter Handle : @VaradVarenya  ]

June 24, 2010

The Kashmiri Pandits: Dispossessed and Discouraged


“Gairon ke sitam pe kya sikwa karein

Hume toh apno ne hi patthar maare hain”

These two lines in Hindi by Dines Naidu fits that bleak pitch in which the Kashmiri Pandits are today so repulsively forced to express themselves and their unrelenting plight after years and years of life living as a refugee at the doorstep of their own home.

And while India commemorate its ‘kaagzee taraqqee-ae-nation’ (Paper Progress of a Nation) and whatever it wants to, the Kashmiri Pandits, being dispossessed and discouraged in the hands of their own country, have got nothing else to do beside indulging themselves in the song of lamenting. And Ehsan Amir’s these two lines seems to be giving voice to their unheard sighs-

“Humse mat poochhiye hum kidhar jaayenge

Thak gaye hain bahut, apne ghar jaayenge”

Reading the huge online archives of sites dedicated to Kashmiri Pandits and going through the word-by-word description of the atrocities that was ‘showered’ upon them, my brain along with the raising impact of migraine tells me to stop reading any further but my heart, who himself is living the life of a forced rambler after being thrown out from his own house, pleads me to read on, so to grasp even a little bit of that inhumane treatments that Kashmiri Pandits had gone through, I read on.

It was the unfaithful year of 1989-90 which made nearly 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits ‘migrants’ (as Indian Government ‘fondly’ addresses them) inside their own nation, when Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front backed by the country on the other side of the border, indulged their selves in the ruthless genocide of tens of thousands of Kashmiri Hindus, they, the Hindus, then ran away, forced to leave their land, their home, their past, their present and into an uncertain future where today, they find themselves just like I find myself – unaccepted, unwelcomed and uncared – among the very people who happen to be our own.

It was the month of scorching summer in the year 2004, when just after performing the last rituals of my murdered father; I was driven out from my very own house. Tears of loss of my father had not even dried from my eyes when my very own blood-relatives stabbed into my chest.

A long quota of years has passed since then but the pain and the wound is still fresh – fresh enough to fill my eyes with tears and heart with pain of betrayal. And there is not a single day goes by when I, looking at myself in the mirror, don’t see the longing in those red eyes which have been barred to soak themselves from the beauty of their birthplace. It’s a longing for that home, which now belongs to the killers of my parents and which I know just like the ‘Pandits’, that what was snatched away from them will never be given back to them – Their home, their land.

This gruesome tale of Sarwanand Koul “Premi” – a Kashmiri Pandit, who was born in Kashmir’s Sofshalli, Anantnag village, depicts the misery that the thousands like him had to go through.

Premi was a poet and a teacher and when terrorism was at its extreme in the valley (though it is no less today, too) he refused to leave his village. He thought that he would withstand the Islamic hurricane as he had taught every Muslim man, women and dog in and around the periphery of his village and so they cannot as ungrateful as to kick him to dust along with his teachings and then bite him to death.

But his faith or whatever that he had in his heart for them, taught him the lesson which took away his life.

The ‘Patrons-of-Dearth’ entered in his house on the night of 28th April, 1990 and ordered all the members of his family to assemble into one room along with all the valuables. Whatever existed of any monetary value in the house of ‘Premi’ was offered to those ‘guardians of Jihad’ who, as they put it, were fighting for their freedom – freedom for an ‘Azaad Kashmir.’

After taking away whatever material Premi had in his house, the ‘terror-mongers’ then demanded that ‘Premi’ step out of the house for few words to be exchanged in private away from his family. And when the members of Premi’s family howled and whined the ‘Gods-of-Mercy’ gave them their words that, ‘Premi’ would return and return ‘safe and in one piece.’

But Premi’s only son requested to be allowed to accompany his old father. So the ‘kind’ and ‘good-hearted’ as those ‘unmasked-men’ were, agreed to the plight of a son, saying-

‘If you wish you may also accompany him…’

And once they stepped out of the house, they never returned. The cold-blooded torture that was carried out at the old teacher’s body and his young son’s can put to shame even the worst tyrant of the three worlds put together.

The spot in the forehead where ‘Premi’ would put his Tilak mark was brutally nailed. His body had the burnt dots of cigarette butts. The limbs of his body were broken and bones from his shattered ribcage poked out. His eye-balls lay crushed on the dust and he was hanged from a tree upside-down and bullets were fired on him. And the same orgy was bestowed upon his son.

The women inside the house ‘wailed and waited’ but feared to go out – feared that they too, might get raped just like the other day the wife of their neighbour was raped by these same ‘kind-hearted’ men.

Shame on us that we call ourselves human!

20th June marks the day of world refugees and their plight. And on this day the entire world comes together to give their bit to the refugees from all around the world, but at the same time the Kashmiri Pandits who are in there 20th year of being the refugees in their own nation – where you and I live – are still waiting to be remembered and addressed in that proper way which any countryman deserves to be addressed – as Citizens.

The many thousand Kashmiri Pandits since then have been living in the Indian Government’s “semi-permanent camps for the displaced” in Jammu and New Delhi.

But if you go visit these camps, then you will see that, not only they are disgustingly stuffed but also lack sufficient facilities and basic necessities.

Like there is no regular supply of drinking water, always there’s a shortage of medicines, plus the sanitation facility are in the worst conditions imaginable. And on top of all this, the education and employment opportunities are severely lacking.

And so not surprisingly, as the result of all this below level of living conditions, the Kashmiri Pandits, after 20 years of their disarticulation, have faced serious health issues like high incidence of several kinds of diseases, depressions, stress-related problems and high death rate.

People might wonder why isn’t the government doing something concrete for them than? But the silence which marks the being of Kashmiri Pandits as refugees is actually an awkward truth that our politicians, our media and our secular parties are unable to come to terms with, so they push this matter under that dark carpet which happens to be the outcome of culpable silence and deliberate ignorance.

I can only hope – hope that someday these silent Kashmiri Pandits will be heard by those who can make a concrete difference in their life and with this – I pray (though I hardly pray) that all those who have died in this massacre may Rest In Peace (Although I feel that it ain’t going to happen).

Author :SadhoGopal Ram    ; Source : Chowk.Com

(more…)

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