By Mr JagMohan :
Excerpts from My Frozen Turbulance in KashmirAnd the truth could be hid
Somebody chose their pain
What need not have happened did
Hall of Crooked Mirrors
In reply to a question at the Press Conference held by me, after the Congress (I) party did not allow me to speak in the Rajya Sabha on the subject of Kashmir on May 30, l990, I said: “India does not require outside enemies; we are our own worst enemies.” The truth of this assertion is borne out by the highly biased and tangential ‘report’ by a Committee called ‘Initiative on Kashmir’.
The report virtually rationalises and justifies terrorism in Kashmir and provides indirect encouragement to it. It is a highly manipulated exercise in deception, distortion and disinformation. Even the worst enemies of India could not have produced more harmful propagandist material than this report. No wonder it was quoted time and again on Pakistan Television and Radio and also extensively used by it and other detractors of India at the international level.
The inner savagery of the report was matched only by its superficiality, its aggressiveness by its obstinacy not to see the truth. In the name of human rights, it butchered all basic human rights-the right to secure justice; the right to be heard before being condemned; the right not to have reputations built over years of hard and honest work to be sullied by false and motivated accusations and the personal grudges and prejudices of a few individuals.
Could any agency calling itself a human rights body torment a forsaken community like the Kashmiri Pandits? Shorn of its verbiage and progressive veneer, it was really an ‘inhuman report’. It did not matter to it if ‘Y’ was hanged for the fault of ‘X’.
There were some good persons in the ‘People’s Union of Civil Liberties’ Group. But how did their goodness matter if due to their preoccupation or other causes they allowed themselves to be blindfolded by ‘clever’ elements like Inder Mohan who had their personal scores to settle?
The report was a product of compulsive bias. It did not take into account any af the concrete facts and documents cited by me in the preceding chapters. The Committee accepted hearsay evidence of interested parties as authentic, and doctored the statements of persons interviewed to fit into predetermined conclusions. The tragic irony was that in the name of human rights, it did maximum damage to human rights. It forgot that truth is a human right, too. Nor did it appreciate that by providing indirect encouragement to the terrorists and by presenting them and their supporters as victims, it caused more kidnappings, more killings, and more violations of the human rights of the wholly innocent.
The report helped the terrorists ease their conscience and made them feel that they were ‘more sinned against than sinning’. In that frame of mind, they thought that their acts were not unjustified. And they continued with their nefarious deeds-more kidnappings, more killings. Sadai Kashmir, the underground publication of the terrorists, the role of which I have already indicated in the chapter ‘Nature and Pattern of Subversion and Terrorism’, quoted extensively from this report to whip up emotions of the Kashmiri youth and to wean them over to terrorism. This was the service rendered to humanity by the ‘human rights body’. Was it an initiative to help in resolving Kashmir’s problem or an initiative to complicate it by arousing revulsion against the authorities ?
The report, in its introduction, said:
“A four-member team on behalf of the Committee for Initiative on Kashmir, during a visit to Jammu and Kashmir from March 12-16, 1990, ottained detailed information from a large number of sources, including victims, eye-witnesses as well as senior government officials, about indiscriminate killings, arbitrary arrests, unlawful searches, unprovoked assaults on peaceful demonstrators and a complete dislocation of normal life due to imposition of indefinite curfew for months together with rare breaks of a few hours. The team found, in the course of investigation, that these abuses have been carried out by the official law-enforcement personnel-the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force), the BSF (Border Security Force) and, in certain cases, by the Indian Army. That these cases of blatant violation of human rights were not isolated instances of aberrations, but operative extensions of an official policy was evident to the team members when they met senior administrators who justified such actions on the ground that they were necessary to contain terrorism. “
The conclusions are so sweeping, so vague, that the inbuilt bias of the Committee becomes self-evident to a discerning mind. These conclusions, moreover, are drawn with such an air of authority that it would appear that they have been arrived at after months of painstaking research. But what was the time span of this ‘research’? lt was four days and that, too, during the time when the shadows of the terrorists’ guns were looming large over the Valley and no common man or so-called disinterested intellectuals would dare say anything except what the terrorists and their supporters wanted them to say. Truth, as everyone knows, is the biggest casualty under terrorism.
What was the standard of objectivity in attributing statements to those whom the four-member team met? Here is a telling example.
In regard to the discussions with the Chief Secretary, the report recorded:
“He felt that during the last three years under Dr. Farooq Abdullah the State administration had become excessively corrupt. He, however, pointed out that the All India Services personnel in the State were the only people who were not corrupt. In other words, except IAS most of whom were outsiders, according to Takkar, all Kashmiri employees and politicians were corrupt.
It was clear that R.K. Takkar did not trust the people of Kashmir. But the bias became very clear when we discussed the Chhanpora incident on 7th March. He said, ‘Chhanpora is a trouble spot. The people are with the terrorists. They will do anything to spread disinformation.’
The last point that we raised was the migration of non-Muslims from the Valley. We told him that people of all communities had told us that government transport was provided to Hindu families to leave the Valley. He denied it. When confronted with evidence he claimed that it could have been done by individual government officials but it was not the policy of the State Government.”
When the Chief Secretary was requested to comment on this report by the Home Department, in the usual official routine, this is what he said in writing:
‘The report does grave injustice to what I had stated. Many wrong statements have been attributed to me while some other statements have been quoted out of context. My detailed observations on each major point are as under:
(a) I did state that the high level of corruption and nepotism that obtained during the three years of Dr. Farooq Abdullah’s Government was one of the major contributory factors to the present trouble in the State. I am not so stupid as to believe or suggest that alll members of All India Services are honest and all other public servants are corrupt.(b) In regard to shortage of drugs, allegations of excesses by security farces during curfew etc., I suggested to the committee that they must take care to discount the disinformation that vested elements are interested in spreading.
(c) It is totally mischievous for the Committee to suggest that I do not trust the people of Kashmir. In fact, I was at pains to suggest to the Members of the Committee that most of the news analysis on the present crisis in Kashmir has failed to discount the elements of fear and the element of euphoria under which the people have been acting. In fact, I faulted the media and the people in the rest of the country for believing that all the people of Kashmir are on the path of insurgency.
(d) in regard to migration of non-Muslims from the Valley, I had stoutly challenged their assertion that the State Government has provoked or sponsored it. When they suggested that they have come across use of Government vehicles for the purpose, I told them that individual misconduct by a Government servant in the use of a Government vehicle in his custody cannot be ruled out in such a situation. I volunteered to take disciplinary action in case specific information was brought to the notice of the Government. Members of the Committee promised to send me the details of such vehicles but have failed to do so till date.”
It is an elementary principle of justice that if any statement or view is attributed to any person on sensitive issues like the ones in question, the statement or the view should be in writing; in the alternative, the gist of the discussions should be sent to that person for confirmation before it is incorporated in any report. It is both unfair and unethical to put words into the mouth of certain persons to suit the conclusions which the team had, perhaps, already drawn. The Chief Secretary was fully justified in complaining that the report did grave injustice to what he had stated. Nor was he wrong when he attributed mischief to the Committee. The fact that the team was bent upon presenting predetermined conclusions would be evident from its unfulfilled promise of giving particulars of the government vehicle allegedly used by the migrants.The other senior functionaries concerned also furnished their comments on the report. This is what Mahmud Rehman, Additional Chief Secretary (Home), said in his comments:
“It is also wrong to allege that the first day of Governor’s rule was marked by raids and searches conducted by the security forces with the ostensible objective of flushing out the terrorists. These raids* were already planned according to the
*See Chapter 1: ‘My Frozen Turbulence’ and Ved Marwah’s report quoted therein.
security needs and intelligence reports and no orders on this subject were issued by the new Governor.
The Committee has wrongly mentioned that within 2 days of the imposition of Governor’s rule the security forces were given the powers of search, seizure and arrest. It is common knowledge that the BSF, CRPF and the Armed Forces Acts have been extended to the State long ago.
The Committee has made a totally wrong observation that unarmed demonstrators and peaceful crowds were fired upon by the para-military forces. All possible efforts were made to minimise the use of force and only in self-defence the firing has been resorted to.
The incident of Chhanpora of March 1990 has been blown out of proportion. After the militants fired on the CRPF picket, a search of the Chhanpora locality was conducted. On receipt of complaints a posse of women police was deputed to the area and no case of molestation could be established. Subsequently, the women wing of JKP also investigated the matter and gave a similar report.
It is difficult to appreciate as to how the Committee has come to the conclusion that the common man in the Valley is prepared to have a dialogue with the Central Government.
Allah Baksh, SSP, Srinagar, was not promoted because of any attack on unarmed demonstrators. Allah Baksh was able to persuade people to desist from violence and in appreciation of his role in dispersing the crowds without use of force he has been promoted to the rank of Addl. DIG and it is also incorrect to say that he has superseded several officers. In fact, Allah Baksh has not superseded anybody.”
In his comments, Amar Kapur, Additional Director-General, Police, pointed out that the facts and figures given in the report were not correct. He asserted that from December 1989 to May 15, 1990, 134 innocent persons were killed by the militants. The killings of 71 Hindus during this period created fear among the minority community and accelerated the pace of migration of Kashmiri Pandits. “There is no truth”, emphasised Kapur, “that the State Government extended help to the Pandits to leave the Valley.” Jamil Qureishi, Adviser to the Governor, incharge of Law and Order remarked:
“I don’t know how the PUCL has given such a preposterous version without even caring to meet the Adviser incharge Law and Order.”
In respect of the Chhanpora incident, Qureishi said:
“Apart from the fact that this was the scene of the cold blooded murder of four IAF officers, Chhanpora has been a hideout of militants where they have not only been finding support, but where they have been assiduously cultivated to foster and execute a network of safe houses. Uptil now quite a large number of security personnel have lost their lives and limbs in the highest traditions of service.”
About the curfew, Qureishi asserted:
“As regards the allegations that curfew is being thoughtlessly perpetrated, nothing could be farther from the truth. Curfew by itself is no security measure but is imposed as a necessity for conducting certain operations which follow incidents of murder and mayhem by the militants and to keep the casualties to the minimum.”
It should be evident from the above that the narrations of events in the team’s report were not only one-sided but also based upon statements wrongly attributed to the only officer they met. Those making the allegations never met any of the persons against whom the allegations were made. Nor did any member of the team try to find out whether the persons accused of committing atrocities had anything to say in rebuttal of the allegations.
Thus, all basic principles of natural justice were ignored by those who claim to be upholders of justice. All norms of fairness were violated by the champions of human rights. The background of events was ignored. The doings of the terrorists were implicitly supported. Peaceful diisposition of the mob was taken for granted, while the administration and the security forces were presumed to be cruel and callous in their behaviour.
In the march from primitive to civilized life and securing justice, the right to be heard before being faulted was the first major achievement of humankind. Ironically, this crown of all human rights was the one that was thrown aside by the so-called human rights body. Its approach, though hidden underneath its progre- ssive stance, was really primitive, propelled more by prejudices than by calm and dispassionate consideration.
The haughty yet hollow assertions of the Committee stand thoroughly exposed by the school bus incident leading to firing at Tengpora on March 1, 1990. The report of the Committee reads:
“Following widespread protests against the killing of bus passengers at Tengpora, the Army conducted an inquiry into the incident under the directions of the government. The report of the inquiry sought to justify the killings on the ground that the people had pelted stones at an Army vehicle carrying school children of military personnel. Local people whom we interviewed dismissed the inquiry report as blantantly false, since all the schools in the Valley were closed at the time for winter holidays. Incidentally the J. & K. government issued an order on February 20th asking schools, colleges and other educational institutions to remain closed till March 15.
Attempts by the army authorities to justify their killing of bus passengers at Tengpora on that day, by inventing a false story, are a further blot on the country’s defence forces who are required to be a highly disciplined cadre dedicated to the task of protecting our people.”
Just note the tone and tenor of the accusation about inventing a false story and the air of moral rectitude that is assumed. But what are the facts? The boot is on the other leg. It is the team which has invented the false story that all schools were closed. The army school was open. The students were taking their examina- tions during the period. The committee’s team did not care to contact the headmaster of the school or any of the students or parents or army officers concerned. Why? The lapse is intentional. Had the team contacted the persons concerned, it would have found the truth. But then, how would it have drawn the predeter- mined conclusions?
I reproduce below the letter cated April 25 of S.N. Drabu of New Delhi which was published in the Indian Express of May l, 1 990:
“Sir: Apropos Ms. Suhasini Mulay’s letter (IE, April 19). I want to put the record straight for the benefit of your readers and for Ms. Mulay’s benefit also.
Ms. Mulay is the Executive Secretary of the Committee for Initiative on Kashmir and she is naturally sore because the Governor of the J. & K. State, Mr. Jagmohan has dismissed the report of the Committee as ‘totally incorrect’. She has tried to cover her embarrassment and indignation by posing smart and quoting ‘just one instance’ to pinpoint and expose ‘inconsistency’ in Jagmohan’s argument. She writes, ‘As a matter of fact, the much circulated allegations of an attack on an army bus carrying school children referred to by Jagmohan as a reason for firing by army guards (in Tengpora on March 1) turned out to be false, as our inquiries revealed and there was no question of any school bus plying on that day since all the schools in the Valley remained closed till March 15 under government orders.’
But there is nothing incorrect or incongruous in the ‘allegation’. The bus in question was carrying children of the Army Public School, situated in the cantonment area of Srinagar. This school, unlike other schools of the Valley, reopened after winter vacation as scheduled on February 19. So the govemment notification extending winter vacation in the educational institutions of the Valley beyond March 1 (the usual date of reopening after winter break) did not apply to this school. The annual examinations in the school started towards the end of February and on the fateful day of March 1, it was the second day of examination. The army bus that was bringing children from Barzulla, Hyderapura, Peerbagh and other areas to the school situated in the Badamibagh cantonment, was attacked at Tengpora by a frenzied mob comprising the subversive elements and their supporters. And it was precisely after the mishap that the Army Public School too was closed for an indefinite period like other educational institutions in the Valley. Ms. Mulay can get these facts verified from the parents of the children reading in that school, army personnel or civilians, Hindus or Muslims.
It is very sad that the Committee which made inquiries from persons who deliberately distorted the facts, calls its findings objective and unbiased. To be liberal, outspoken and smart is all right. But one should not fall prey to the machinations of fundamentalists whose sole aim is secession of Kashmir from secular India.”
It should be obvious that Ms. Mulay and the Committee really followed Swift’s dictum: “When you are doing a fault, be always pert and insolent and behave yourself as if you are the injured person.
Another letter dated April 20 of Thakur Dass of Jammu which appeared in the same newspaper on the same date, was equally revealing. It said:
“Sir, This refers to the letter of Ms. Suhasini Mulay, Executive Secretary, Committee for Initiative on Kashmir (IE, April 19). It is correct that all State government schools in the Valley were closed till March 15 (they will remain closed till May 1, according to a subsequent order) but the Srinagar Army School in question opened on February 20 after the winter vacation. The examinations for various classes started from March 1 and it was on this day that the army bus carrying students of the Arrny School, mostly wards of the defence personnel, was attacked by some anti-India demonstrators near Tengpora. These are undiluted facts which could be verified from the terrified students or their parents.
If members of the Commiltee had gane to the Valley, they were under moral obligation to cross-check the facts before casting aspersions on our Army, much less arriving at conclusions which are detrimental to the national interest. If they have any doubts, they are welcome to check the facts from the defence authorities who run this school, or from the Principal of the school, Chaturvedi.
These intellectuals and so-called champions of civil liberties, in their eagerness to run down Jagmohan and the Indian Army, have provided enough material for anti-Indian propaganda in the foreign media. Pakistan made full use ot these reports to build up anti-India feelings in Muslim countries.
The people, at least of J. & K., would like to know which senior government officer and the officers of the security forces they have met and depend on for their assessment. Propriety demands that the names of such officers be disclosed.”
The Commiltee restricted itself to the local people whom it supposedly interviewed. Who were these nameless people? What were their affiliations? In the opening paras, I pointed out that the Committee relied upon hearsay. But it was not only that; it relied upon the hearsay of the unknown.
The false allegations against the Army and the State Administration for having invented the school bus story, made with such cocky aggressiveness, did immense damage to national honour and the country’s international standing. There was not a single correspondent, foreign or local, who met me and did not make adverse observations about it. While the report of the committee was published in the world media, thanks to the resources and contacts of the PUCL, the letters like those of S.N. Drabu and Thakur Dass, published in some inconspicuous corners of a newspaper, were hardly noticed.
There are many other false observations in the report which call for comments. For want of space, I will give below only a few of them.
On page 23 of its reports, the Committee says:
“When we asked our Muslim interviewees why, in spite of their assurances of protection to their Hindu neighbours, the latter were leaving the Valley, they came out with an explanation which need to be gone into. We were told that the Administration, and Jagmohan in particular, had encouraged the migration by advising the Hindus to leave and by arranging government transport for their departure.”
Who arranged for the trucks? Which department of the Government was concerned? On which date or dates were these trucks moved? Who were these nameless Muslim interviewees? And what was the basis of their saying that Jagmohan in particular encouraged the migration of Hindus? The Committee’s team did not bother about such questions. Nor did it show its face to the Chief Secretary again when he asked about the precise details. It could not, because the allegations were sheer concoctions.
The Committee intentionally suppressed written evidence to the contrary As an instance, I would invite attention to the press note issued on March 7 by the State Government. It said:
“Jagmohan, Governor, J. & K., has appealed to the members of Kashmiri Pandit community not to leave the Valley even temporarily. He said that law and order machinery was being rebuilt. With the appointment of Special Commissioners and Special DIGs for the newly created Divisions of Baramulla and Anantnag, the authority at the State was being re-established. The senior officers have been specifically charged with the duty of giving protection and safeguarding the minorities and restoring confidence amongst them.
Jagmohan also appealed to the members of the community who have temporarily migrated to Jammu to return to the Valley. He offered to set up temporary camps at four places, namely, Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla and Kupwara for those who will return from Jammu. In these places Rest Houses or some other suitable buildings would be requisitioned.
Jagmohan said that accommodation in these camps would be free and arrangements for food and other facilities would also be made. Necessary medical cover would also be provided in each camp. For going to their houses occasionally, a pool of vehicles will also be provided in each camp so that the members of the community could go to their houses with escort. For administering these camps and for attending to the problems of these camps, a separate Relief Commissioner would be appointed.
Jagmohan requested the President and the Secretary of All State Kashmiri Pandit Association, who called on him today, to persuade those who have migrated to Jammu temporarily to return to the Valley.”
This omission, apparently intentional, confirms the view that the Committee saw and heard only what it wanted to see and hear. The Committee’s compulsive bias of finding fault with me becomes too glaring to be missed.
Real Cause: Blood-Chilling Face of Terrorism
Since the Committee and the like of them did not look to the real cause-the blood-chilling face of Kashmiri terrorism-let me show it to them.
B. K. Ganju: A ‘friendly neighbour’ of B.K. Ganju, a telecom- munications officer and an old resident of Srinagar, told him that he had seen in the nearby mosque a list of persons to be ‘finished’, and that the name of Ganju was included therein. He and his wife were frightened. They did not really know whom to turn to for help. They apprehended that approach to local police might hasten their end. They spent the night looking at each other with vacant expressions. Sometimes. tears would involuntarily roll down their eyes. In their feverish imagination, they would hear knocks at their doors. And yet, for a few moments, they would hope against hope. Why should they be killed? What wrong had they done?
The night of their agany, which seemed never to end, ultimately gave way to a cold and chilly dawn. Mrs. Ganju went to her prayer room, but did not dare to switch on the light. Then, she went to the kitchen to prepare tea in semi-darkness. While they were taking tea, the telephane rang. They dared not pick it up. It would ring again and again. And their hearts would miss more and more beats. Even their tea seemed to have frozen with fear. They simply could not feel its warmth.
At about 9 a.m. came the knock at the door. “Where is Ganju Sahib? We have an urgent work with him”, came the voices from outside. “He is not at home. He has gone to office”, Mrs. Ganju replied. “It cannot be. How can he go to office so early? Please open the door and realise the urgency of the matter”, pleaded the visitors from outside. She refused. She even stopped responding to the voices. Then, the knocks were no longer there. The callers had apparently left.
Mrs. Ganju opened the upper window a bit and peeped outside. No one was to be seen. But this did not give her any relief. She advised her husband to ring up the police and his own officers. He did. Hardly had he done so when they heard a terrible pounding upon a jammed wooden plank and a sort of old window which gave an opening to Ganju’s house from the neighbourhood. Someone was trying to break into the house. They froze with fear. But, somehow or the other, Mrs. Ganju was able to persuade her husband to go to the roof and hide himself in one of the old vacant drums with heaps of gunny bags around.
Within minutes, the two intruders were inside the house-one with a Kalashnikov and the other with a pistol. They looked for Ganju in every nook and corner of the house. They found that one small room was locked from outside. They thought that Ganju was inside. They asked for the key. She pleaded that it was with her brother-in-law who had gone out of station. They were furious. They smashed down the little door but found no trace of Ganju. They left saying, with blood-thirsty eyes, “how long can a rat escape?” Mrs. Ganju never understood why her husband was being called a rat.
At the corner of the street, the two visitors received a signal from one of the neighbouring houses. They ran back, climbing the stairs of Ganju’s house with lightning speed. Mrs. Ganju stood motionless, with her legs paralysed. She knew where the intruders were heading for. She soon heard a burst of bullets and slumped down to the floor. Her husband lay dead on the roof, with the gunny bags soaking up his blood. The drum had rolled over towards the stairs. Nothing seemed to affect the intruders. Quietly and smoothly, they walked away. This time they did not even look at Mrs. Ganju, a half-dead woman. They paid no heed to her anguished sobs.
The Committee’s members and the like of them did not even attempt to see any of the hundreds of frightened pigeons like Ganju in the cruel cages of Kashmiri terrorism. Nor did they have the time or the inclination to hear the sobs and anguished cries of their widows and other dependents. They had their predetermined streets to visit, predetermined class of persons to interview, predetermined conclusions to draw, and the predetermined target to assail and ask for his recall.
Prof. K. L. Ganju: Ganju was a venerated lecturer in the Sopore Agricultural College. His scientific sense told him that Sopore had become a snake-pit and he and his family members could be stung by the poisonous fangs anytime. But his inbred Kashmiri sentiments led him to the contrary conclusion. “Why should anyone harm him; after all, he had not even hurt a fly in his lifetime; he had served the local community well and had a number of Muslim friends and admirers”, he would argue within.
On May 2, 1990, when K.L. Ganju, his wife and his cousin ‘Pista’ were having dinner at about 9 p.m., four armed men, one with a Kalashnikov and the others with pistols, appeared at the door and ordered all the three to come out with them.* Even the sheep, when taken to the slaughter house, moan and make attempts to escape. But these, the three hapless individuals, pale, aghast and with their blood curdling in their veins, must walk to their chamber of death in silence. Almost all the neighbours in the locality saw them being taken away. Some of them recognised the armed intruders who belonged to the known local terrorist group of ‘Luskar Ayub’. But none of the neighbours moved an inch, not even to plead for mercy. They just kept watching. Even after the captives and their likely slaughterers had moved away from the scene, no neighbour took the trouble of informing the nearby CRP picket. Informing the local police, of course, would have been a mere formality; they, perhaps, knew about it. But even that was not done.
K.L. Ganju and his two companions were taken to the assigned place of their execution near a mosque on the bank of the River Jhelum. From a point-blank range, six bullets were pumped into his body. When the first bullet was about to be fired, his hands moved involuntarily diverting the aim of the shooter. The bullet hit Pista on the tip of his heels, injuring him slightly. He jumped into the river and somehow or other managed to swim to safety. After a couple of days of fearsome hiding in the Valley, he escaped to Jammu.
For some unaccountable reason Ganju’s corpse was kept in the mosque for the night and then thrown into the river. According to one of the assassins, who was arrested later, Mrs. Ganju, too, was ruthlessly killed and her corpse was tied with stone and thrown into the Jhelum. But her dead body was never recovered.
So much for the neighbours whose empty words and ineffec- tual assurances the Committee’s team considered relevant.
From Srinagar and Sopore, let me take you to the rural Kashmir and show you how pitiless the monster of terrorism could be.
*These narratives are based upon the disclosures made by the assassins after their arrest and also upon the statements of the survivors.
‘Premi’: Premi’s tragic story is the story of a poet-a poet who was a messenger of love, compassion, truth and justice, a poet who had translated Bhagwad Geeta into Kashmiri language, a poet who had kept a copy of Quran reverentially in his house for regular study, and a poet who, in his long career as a government teacher, had illumined many minds and given them the most precious of all gifts, education. It was this noble soul that was done to death, along with his 27-year-old young son, in a most treacherous and brutal manner.
After retirement, Serwanand Koul ‘Premi’ lived with his family in his village Shali in District Anantnag. He spent most of his time writing articles for local newspapers and magazines and in academic pursuits.
Some of the members of his family often expressed apprehensions about their safety in the remote village and suggested migration. But Premi would invariably overrule them, saying that migration from the soil in which he was so deeply rooted was unthinkable. Did he not, moreover, have a number of old students and friends in the area to take care of him and his family?
But the fact that the world of his poetic beliefs and sensibilities had ceased to exist and old loyalties and friendship had become powerless in the face of the fierce assault mounted by the forces of fundamentalism and fanaticism, dawned upon him and others around on the late evening of April 30, 1990, when three armed men, like hungry wolves, anxious to trip their prey by fair or foul means, appeared at Premi’s door. They herded all the inmates in one room and asked the 67-year-old Premi to accompany them to their ‘camp’ for answering a few questions.
Some Muslim neighbours appeared on the scene and interceded on behalf of Premi. But their mild protests had no effect. The messengers of death, moreover, were trained in the art of deception. They swore in the name of their religion that no harm would be done to Premi. His son, Virender Koul, however, insisted that whatever questions had to be asked could be asked in a separate room in the house. But the intruders did not agree. How could they? They had to take him to their torture cell. They also took Virender Koul along.
No one reported the matter to the police, not even his relatives and lifelong Muslim friends. The climate of fear had numbed all old attachments.
After two days of painful anxiety came the dreadful news. Two dead bodies had been found hanging with their limbs broken, hairs uprooted, and portions of their skin slit open and burnt.
I am personally aware of many other blood-chilling incidents of the type described above. But considerations of not merely being objective but also appearing to be objective require that I should prefer to invite attention to the experiences of Kashmiri Pandits as narrated by them to a team of the Illustrated Weekly of India (in the last week of March). These narratives bring out the compulsions which led to the flight of the Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley.
The following is the experience of Sudesh Kumar, a law student of Kashmir University.
“T.K. Razdan, an intelligence officer, was killed right in front of my eyes. We were travelling in the same Matador when some militants stopped it, pulled out their guns and fired at him from close range. They then dragged the body out and took it to the nearby mosque. They checked his pockets, took out his identity card and nailed it to his body, then laid out his body on the open road. It was only later that the police came and carried it away. The body was cremated by the CRPF.
The relatives were so terror-stricken that they were afraid to even come out for the cremation. His murder really shook me.
Again, one day in February, I ran into a ‘jaloos’. To avoid being identified, I too joined them, shouting slogans. I also called for ‘azadi’ for Kashmir that day. I hailed Pakistan and condemned the ‘Indian dogs’ – there was little else that I could do if I had to live that day.
Then we received a threatening letter from the militants. They had slipped in under our door. The letter ordered us to leave Srinagar, otherwise they would do to us what they did to A.K. Raina.(Deputy-Director, Civil Supplies, who was shot dead in his office). Our neighbours tried to pressurise us and promised to protect us but we decided not to take any chance. My father who works in the education department, my mother, a sister, two brothers and my grandfather escaped at 3 a.m. one night in a hired truck with some luggage.”
Here is another aspect of the Kashmiri reality as seen through the eyes of Jai Bhagwan, a Telephone Operator at the Institute of Medical Sciences, Srinagar:
“Today we are suffering and living like dogs because we are Indians and stood for India. Had we changed our religion and raised pro-Pakistan slogans we would have been safe in Srinagar and our future would have been secure….
The militants took control of my institute. Their task became easier because they had the tacit support of the hospital authorities. Meanwhile, killings by the terrorists became more and more indiscriminate.
One evening when I was returning home, two young men asked me the time. When I replied, they started beating me up. They told me to adjust my watch according to Pakistan standard time. The same evening the house of a Kashmiri Pandit in the neighbourhood was burnt down. On the following nights our area was pelted with stones and bottles filled with petrol. When we lodged a complaint the police officers refused to provide us guards, pleading that they did not have enough men. Their attitude completely demoralised us. After these incidents the Kashmiri Pandit families in our area, Nai Sarak, started migrating.
In the Institute the schism behween us and the Muslim employees increased. Some of them were so close to the terrorists that they had prior information about bomb blasts and killings. One day they asked me to change my religion or leave Srinagar. That really scared me and that night, along with my wife, two children and father I left our three-storeyed house in search of security. A couple of days later four of my colleagues, including a nurse, were killed by militants. Two of them were kidnapped while on duty. Their dead bodies carried marks of severe torture. Their eyes were gouged out, their limbs- broken and chests spotted with burns. Now in New Delhi I am left with no money. In Srinagar no one wants to buy our house. Who will buy it?” This is what Dr. Agni Shekhar, a writer, has to say:
“I have done a Ph.D. in Hindi from Kashmir University and published three novels. A few months ago I received a note from some of the militant outfits saying that Hindi was the language of kafirs and I should stop writing in Hindi, otherwise I would be exterminated…. Soon enough I learnt that I was not the only one. My brother, too, who has been a TV artiste received threats…. And one day some men came to my house asking for me. My mother told them that I was not at home…. I noticed that there was a man seated at some distance under a street lamp and could see his gun. They had come to kill me! I wasted no time and escaped through the backyard. I hid in a friend’s house for 10 days, and at the first available opportunity came away to Jammu. My brother who had received death threats had already run away to Madhya Pradesh.”
And this is the narrative of a young staff nurse, Seema Raina, about her experience:
“I fled that Valley along with my family in January. But soon I mustered up enough guts to go back to collect my pay on February 1. All went well till I had collected the cash token from the Institute’s branch of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank; then, all of a sudden a huge procession came. They were raising anti-national slogans along with the usual fundamentalist ones like ‘Kashmir mein agar rehna hoga Allah ho Akbar-kehna hoga’ (If you wish to live in Kashmir you have to say ‘Allah ho Akbar’) and ‘Dil mein rakho Allah ka khauf haath mein rakho Kalashnikov’ (One must have the fear of Allah in the heart and a Kalashnikov in his hand).
My pulse was racing. Just then I heard gun-shots and within a few minutes, a group of gun-wielding militants barged into the bank. They asked everyone to leave and threatened the manager with dire consequences if he dared to make any more payments. This was the first time that I had come face to face with armed militants and was trembling with fear. I said to hell with the salary, it is not more valuable than my life. I got out of the bank, mingled with the demonstrators and then disappeared. I took the first available transport to Jammu and have not even thought of returning to the Valley.”
Another aspect of human tragedy unfolds itself through the words of a poor driver of Srinagar Radio Station, Triloki Nath Kaul:
“My whole life was destroyed, laid waste. But for what was happening in the Valley, my wife would not have died. My wife was ill with shock and constant fear that the terrorists would kill us all. They didn’t kill her directly, but indirectly they did….”
What can you say of a Committee which comes out with a proposition that it is not the fearsome environment, it is not the brutalised landscape, it is not the ruthless Kalashnikov of the marauders, it is not the bomb explosions and fires, it is not the threatening telephonic calls, it is not the hysterical exhortations for ‘Jihad’ from hundreds of loudspeakers fitted on the mosques, it is not the ‘Tirana-e-Kashmir’ of having Quran in one hand and a rifle in the other, it is not the fall-outs of grave human tragedies of Ganjus, Tikkus and Premis, it is not the sinister design of ‘killing one and frightening 1,000’, but the inducement of the trucks that have impelled the Kashmiris to abandon their homes and hearths in the cool and crisp Valley and to move to the hot and inhospitable camps of Jammu. What can you say of the judicial attributes of ex-High Court judges who allow their names to be stamped on such propositions ! And, if old-age casualness or stubbornness is not the cause, what can you say of a country’s legal system, where such judicial luminaries could throng the State’s highest courts at some point of time or other!
Call it disinformation or deception, superficiality or shallowness, carelessness or casualness, subjectivity or bias, the fact remains that a good section of the country and the world was misled about the so-called ‘induced migration’ of the Kashmiri Pandits. Such was the damaging effect of the Committee’s report which in essence was nothing short of a cruel joke on the victims of a grave human tragedy.
Where, incidentally, are the truck numbers which the Committee promised to supply to the Chief Secretary? Why did it not publish these numbers in the report itself? And where are the plots, their numbers and their localities which are supposed to have been allotted to Kashmiris as inducements by Jagmohan’s administration?
What will be the verdict on a nation which allowed its people to be divided and its international image to be undermined by such banalities and superficialities as were churned out by the likes of Inder Mohan and Miss Sohali under the benign umbrella provided by ’eminent’ persons?
The ‘Save Kashrniri Pandit Campaign Committee’ poignantly says in an appeal issued by it: “Is it not an exhibition of heartlessness to impute motives to our decision of migrating from the land of anarchy and violence or to allege that the migrants left at the biddings of the highest-up in Srinagar. Must we tell these partisans that nothing is more distasteful to a Kashmiri Pandit than even the remotest thought of leaving the land which he loves only as a son would love his mother.” The appeal emphasised:
“The choice as forced on us by Pakistan-led terrorists who have imposed their writ on Kashmir, taken an unending toll of innocent human lives, wrought death and destructions, bombed and blasted residential as well as public buildings, not sparing even the schools.
We did not want to migrate. We love our land, our Kashmir, every inch of its bounteous soil which has nourished us all; we love every drop of its cool and clear water, every blade of its greenest grass. For us, bidding farewell to the soil we have sprung from is too traumatic an experience to be conveyed in words. Will you believe the symbol of wedlock of Kashmiri Pandit womenfolk ‘DEJIHORU’ (a kind of mangalsutra generally made of gold) changed hands, enabling our loved ones to get a lift in goods-laden trucks bound for Jammu? Many village folk from Southern Kashmir, men, women, and children, old and young, sick and infirm, trudged on foot the long stretch of the hazardous, snow-bound mountain terrain from Verinag to Jawahar Tunnel only to come out of the range of fire of the terrorists’ deadly Kalashnikovs.”
The Kashmir Migrant Forum, in its statement issued on May 1, 1990, expressed similar views on the Committee’s report:
“What can be more cruel, more insulting to the people who have been made to flee their ancestral land through tactics of terror and subversion, killings and kidnappings, bomb blasts and arson, and forced to live a miserable life in some rotten refugee camps in tropical heat. Do these self-styled champions of human rights consider the highly intelligent and educated Kashmiri Pandits to be so naive as to abandon their homes, property and jobs all for the sake of rumour? Or do they think that they are away on a collective picnic in Jammu, Delhi and other places of the country?
V.M. Tarkunde and his friends had gone to Srinagar with a pre-set mind, eager to buy the militants’ line lock, stock and barrel, pick up fault with the Jagmohan administration and blame the security forces for all sorts of excesses.” What the Kashmiri Pandits stated in their ”Appeal to the ‘people of India”, is equally incontestable:
“We migrants were forced to abandon our homes and hearths, our jobs and business enterprises, our fields and orchards, because the armed militants killed many of our loved ones brutally, in broad daylight, without any reason, without our having ever given them the slightest provocation now or in the past. History is witness and the majority community will acknowledge that we have stood by them at all times of trials and tribulations and contributed our mite to the peace and well-being of our homeland.
The militants warned us, our families, our children through posters, that no one was going to protect our lives and property. They stoned our houses especially during dark nights, day in and day out, breaking window panes, hurling abuses and invectives; they forced many of us at gun point to join anti-national demonstrations which they used as cover for firing at security personnel inviting counter-fire, thus endangering our very lives; they yelled at us through loud-speakers fitted in each mosque: ‘Death to infidels; Kashmir shall become an Islamic State; those who do not accept it will be pronounced traitors; death to minorities – the agents of India.’
Tragic, very tragic, is the story of our forced migration. But far more tragic is the story of how the armed militants came to impose their Nazi-like dominance over entire Kashmir, over every sector of its life. How could those openly dubbed ‘agents of India’ continue living in violence-torn Kashmir when the State administration, until the arrival of Jagmohan on the scene as the new Governor, had melted away completely, so much so that the militants forced, in the fundamentalist style, closure of all cinema halls, video and beauty parlours, wine shops, bars; held an armed parade on Pakistan’s national day in Srinagar stadium and defiantly unfurled a Pakistan flag; bombed branches of Indian banks, post offices, Central Government offices; coerced them to have the word ‘Indian’ erased fram their front entrances; received salutes from senior Kashmir police officers, imposed at gun-point what came to be called ‘civil curfew’, total bandh, violation of which by some led to bombing of their establishments and also brutal killing of the owners; flew atop public and private buildings, even State and Central offices, secessionists’ flags; ordered on pain of death switching off of electricity at times of important national telecasts.”
Acute scare had gripped the Kashmiri Pandits from September 1989 onwards. At that time, the community had started feeling what it felt when it was hounded out by the Afghans in the second half of the eighteenth century:
“O heart, there is fear
And dread in the city
Prepare for journey
Disorder is dominant in this city.”*
In a memorandum dated January 16, 1990, submitted to my predecessor General K.V. Krishna Rao (Retd.)! the Kashmiri Pandit Sabha, Jammu, and other organisations, said:“The ineffectiveness of the State Government has not been able to check loot, arson and killing of innocent people. Instead of the Government, it is the militants who are the de facto rulers in the Valley today. The ruling political forces are solely concerned with their own survival avoiding the wrath of the secessionists. Happenings in Anantnag, Sopore,
*Quoted from Anand Kaul, Kashmiri Pandits. Calcutta. 1926.
Baramulla, Tral, Murran, Pulwama, Ishber, Vicharnag, Shopian and other places in the Valley are indicative of the fundamentalists’ designs regarding their planned targets of attack on the minorities. On 15th December 1989, in Shopian, men, children and old women of the minority community were mercilessly attacked and women-folk molested. The murder of Mahant Keshav Nath, Tikka Lal Taploo, N.K. Ganjoo, Prem Nath Bhat, Ajay Kapoor and others, was to create scare and awe among the minority community to force them to leave the Valley. The pace of exodus has further accelerated now.
It is a sad commentary on the present administration that not even a single assailant of the minority leaders and others has either been identified or apprehended by the Police till now. The fully Pakistan-trained underground elements who are armed with modern weaponry openly engage in battles with the Security Forces, which unmistakably speaks of the inefficiency of the State Government and alleged involvemement of some of the high-ups in the State Government itself. The statement made by Ali Mohammad Sagar, Minister of State, as appeared in the Press on 13.1.1990, suggesting setting back the clock to 1953 position is indicative of the working of the minds of the National Conference political bossess.”
In fact, for quite some time, Kashmiri Pandits had been feeling extremely insecure. I vividly remember their fear-stricken faces when I visited various villages and towns of Anantnag District after the riots of February 1986. In this regard, I can do no better than reproduce the letter which I wrote on March 5 to the Home Minister, S.B. Chavan, with a copy to the Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi:
“I have toured almost all the affected areas of the four districts – Anantnag, Srinagar, Baramulla and Doda. I have visited practically every damaged building, religious or private, in villages, towns of Wanpoh, – Lukbhavan, Fatehpur, Gautamnag, Salair, Akoora, Sopore and Doda.
The damage done to individual property – houses and shops – and temples of Kashmiri Pandits is substantial. But much greater damage has been done to the psyche of the Kashmiri Pandits. They are now living like frightened pigeons. In some villages like Wanpoh or Bonigund, Akoora and Salair, their terror-stricken faces reminded me of the picture of the war-time German Jews slated for the gas chambers. On seeing me, they started weeping and bewailing loudly, and demanded immediate evacuation from the Kashmir Valley. They did not want monetary or any other kind of relief. They argued that, since their property, honour and lives were not safe, relief was meaningless for them. To the best of my ability, I assuaged their injured feelings. But it would take a long time for their wounds to heal, if they heal at all.
It is unfortunate that inaccurate reports were sent by the State Government and District and Divisional Administration to me and the Central Government. What I saw al the site was vastly different from what was reported to me. For instance, the damage done in village Bonigund, which suffered the most grievous attack on February 20, 1986, has not been indicated in the report of the State Government sent to the Central Government as late as March 4, 1986. Here, 7 houses were totally burnt, 8 partially damaged and looted, 3 temples and cne shop demolished burnt. This village is not even 3/4 km away irom the District Headquarters. This fact alone demonstrates the many-sided infirmities of the present set-up in regard to which in depth analysis has been done in my montnly reports from time to time.”
Kashmiri Pandits and the Quirks of their History
Ever since I saw the plight of the Kashmiri Pandit community from close quarters in February 1986, I have been pondering over its curious fate. It is a community whose history generates envy at their achievements as well as sorrow at their plight. In one way, its members have played a dominant role in ruling India after August 1947. In another way, it has been hounded by a deep sense of insecurity in the Valley. In one way, again, it has been a well-knit community, and in another way hopelessly divided and leaderless. Its long history* has been one of triumphs and tragedies – steady and silent triumphs and tumultuous and terrible tragedies. Like Kashmir’s weather, its bright, sunny, cool and crisp days have been punctuated by those of floods and famines and of grey and depressing clouds.
The antiquity of the Kashmiri Pandit community and its Aryan origin are well established. As noted in Chapter II, except during Harsa’s time, when the Kashmiri ‘purohits’ were persecuted, they constituted a powerful elite group during the reigns of Hindu kings. Their material needs were mostly met by the royal families and establishments. Such was their influence on society that, by resorting to collective fasting, they could virtually force the monarch to concede their demands, reasonable or unreasonable.
After the establishment of the Muslim Sultanate, the community underwent its most tragic phase during the regime of Sultan Sikander (1389-1413) and his fanatic Chief Minister, Suha Bhatta who, ironically, was himself a Kashmiri Brahmin before his conversion. Persecution and forcible conversions knew no limits. As Ferishta recorded, “Many Brahmins, rather than abandon their religion or their country” poisoned themselves; some emigrated from their native homes, while a few escaped the evil of banishment by becoming Mohammedans.” Rajtarangini of Jonaraja portrayed the same tragic reality in these words: “The Brahmins fled to foreign countries, the son left the father and the father the son. The difficult terrains through which they passed, the scanty food they ate, the painful illness and the torments they suffered during their lifetime removed the fear of hell from their minds. Only eleven Pandit families were left.”*
* Anand Kaul, Kashmiri Pandits, Calcutta, 1926; Cambridge History of India, Vol. III, and Walter Lawrence, Valley of Kashmir.
Maybe the number of eleven is only symoblically true; but the fact remains that at the end of Sultan Sikander’s rule, the Kashmiri Brahmins were reduced to a microscopic minority largely through conversion, persecution and consequent migration. As narrated in Chapter II, Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin (1420-1471) reversed the policy of religious persecution and allowed the migrants to return and the local converts to reconvert. In the end of the fifteenth century, however, under the influence of Shams-ud-Din Iraqi, the Kashmiri Brahmins were once again persecuted.
The fifteenth century, thus, turned out to be one of the most fateful periods in the history of Kashmiri Pandits. Before this century, the community was intact and divided into 199 exogamous ‘gotras’,* the members of which claimed descent from the ‘rishi’ whose name the ‘gotra’ bore. To these ‘gotras’ were now added the distinction between the Kashmiri Pandits who withstood the persecution and stayed in the Valley and those who migrated and later on returned. The former were known as ‘Malmasis’ and the latter ‘Bhanamasis’. In popular parlance, those who stuck to their faith were known as ‘suchi-haddi’ (pure bone) and those who reconverted as ‘jhuti-haddi’ (already tasted bone).
By the time the Mughal rule commenced in Kashmir, the Pandits had regained their poise and position. They identified themselves with Mughal manners and modes of administration. Their proficiency in Persian, the court language, proved a great asset. The Pandits became the backbone of the structure of governance at the middle level. Their prestige in society was also enhanced by Emperor Akbar’s visit to the Martand Temple and offering a cow, with garlands of gold and jewels, as a gift. From the insignificant figure of 11, their number also increased. Their number was estimated by Abul Fazal, during Akbar’s regime, at 2,000. (Abul Fazal, Ain-e-Akbari)
With the decline of the Mughal Empire, misfortune once again visited the Kashmiri Pandits. Some of the Mughal Governors were fanatics and resorted to forcible conversion. The story of Kashmiri Pandits approaching Guru Tegh Bahadur, which has already been recounted in Chapter II, is revealing in this regard. The Afghan rule occasioned another period of terror for them, as it was for other Kashmiris.
Over the years, Kashmiri Pandits migrated to different parts of northern India. This was largely due to the combined effect of occasional persecution at home and opportunities available in the Mughal Court at Delhi, the Sikh Darbar at Lahore, the
*Brahmanical gotra may be defined as exogamous patrilineal sibship, whose members trace their descent back to a common ancestor’ (Dictionary of Hinduism, Margaret & James Stutley).
kingdom of the Nawab of Avadh, and the native States of central India and Rajputana. Destitution consequent upon the famine of 1831, (Walter Lawrence, The Valley of Kashmir (Srinagar, 1895) which resulted in reduction of the population from 800,000 to 200,000 in the Valley and the famine of 1878, in which three-fifths of the population perished, played not an insignificant part in their migration. The tradition of going on pilgrimage was another factor, though the pilgrims moved from the Mandir to the Darbar at the first available opportunity. Pandit Kishen Das, the great-great grandfather of Raja Narendra Nath, for example, “went from the temple along the Ganges to the fort along the Jamuna and ended at the Mughal Court”.
In respect of Kashmiri migration, Dhanavanthi Rama Rau, in her memoirs, An Inheritance, observes:
“They (Pandits) arrived and learned to live in what was almost a different country to them. They were obliged to alter their dress from the loose robes and distinctive headcovering of Kashmiris to the Hindu saris for women and pajamas and long coats for men, or to the trousers and tunics dictated by the Muslim Mughal Court. They had to learn a new language, adopt a new cuisine and get used to the flat, dry landscape of the North Indian plains. However, they continued to cling to their names and the customs, rites, and ceremonies that belonged particularly to their community.”
The Kashmiri Pandits who migrated had little in common with the Brahmins of northern India. While the latter were highly conservative, strictly vegetarian, and, with a few exceptions, deficient in learning and true knowledge of religion, the Kashmiri Pandits were meat-eaters, scholarly, well versed in Persian, and both adaptive and traditional. They were also liberal in their thoughts and beliefs. While the menfolk took to social norms of the rulers, composed Persian and Urdu poems, and participated in and attended Court ‘Mushairas’, poetry symposia, the womentolk strictly observed all the rituals of religion and sang ‘bhaj ans’ (devotional songs) at home. The migrants also developed a tendency to be somewhat self-centred. They kept few contacts with friends and relations at home. They developed a hybrid culture which had some invisible roots in the Valley and some fresh ones in the new soil of their settlement.
Forsaken by All on a Rough Sea
Whatever be the vicissitudes of their history and whatever unkind quirks their fate might have brought to them in the past, these all pale into insignificance when we reflect on what is happening to them at present.
When viewed in all its dimensions, the current phase of Kashmiri Pandits’ misfortune is the most calamitous. The grim tragedy is compounded by the equally grim irony that one of the most intelligent, subtle, versatile, and proud community of the country is being virtually reduced to extinction in free India. It is suffering not under the fanatic zeal of mediaeval Sultahs like Sikandar or under the tyrannical regime of the Afghan Governors, but under the supposedly secular rule of Rajiv Gandhi, V.P. Singh and the like whose unabashed search for personal and political power is symbolised by the callous and calculated disregard of the Kashmiri migrants’ current miserable plight and the terrible future that stares them in the face. And to fill their cup of sorrow, there are bodies like the ‘Committee for Initiative on Kashmir’ which are over-anxious and over-active to rub salt into their wounds.
In a soft, superficial, permissive and, in many ways, cruel India which has the tragic distinction of creating over one lakh refugees from its own flesh and blood and then casting them aside like masterless cattle to fend for themselves on the busy and heartless avenues of soulless cities, the chances for Kashmiri Pandits to survive as a distinct community are next to nothing. Split, scattered, and deserted practically by all, though for different reasons, they stand today all alone, looking hopelessly at a leaking, rudderless boat at their feet and an extremely rough and tumultuous sea to face before they can reach a safe shore across to plant their feet firmly on an assured future.
Tragically the migrants’ own kith and kin, their own high-placed stalwarts, too, have forsaken them. Where are those influential Kauls, Sukhdars, Nehrus and Dhars? Why have they not come forward and provided solace and meaningful leadership to the indigent and resourceless migrants? I have seen tears flowing from the eyes of these hapless migrants and also perceived the imprints of terror permanently etched on their minds. I have no doubt that had these great sons of the Valley taken the trouble of flying even for a few hours to Jammu and seen the true face of Kashmir in the camps, they would not have remained mute spectators of the tragedy or contented themselves with sterile discussions at seminars sponsored by the interested parties. If nothing else, they could have helped in countering the disinformation spread by them. And if, during the course of this endeavour, they could assuage the sufferings of these unfortunate people, they would have earned something for the life to come.
The deep crisis through which the Kashmiri migrant, or for that matter the entire Kashmir, is passing is really the crisis of Indian values – the perversion, in practice, af its constitulional, political, social and moral norms. If you visit the camps of the refugees and try to extend the hand of justice to a community in distress, if you instruct that, instead of cash doles, the migrant Government servants should be given leave salary, and if you concede the demand of the widow of a person brutally killed by the terrorists for allotment of a house on payment, you become communal, a ‘known anti-Muslim’, about whom concocted stories would be published in the press, and who would, even when an opportunity comes to expose the blatant falsehood in Parliament, not be allowed to speak, and would be obstructed by members from different corners of the House. If, on the other hand, you falsely accuse the Indian Army and Governor’s administration of inventing stories as in the case of the school bus incident narrated above, if you assail the Administration and ‘Jagmohan in particular’ for giving inducements through provision of plots and trucks, without giving particulars either of the plots or of the trucks, your accusations get published in the press, your reporls are flaunted in national and international forums and are copiously quoted in Parliament, and you are labelled as secular and progressive and a champion of human rights and what not.
A few other basic questions in regard to the plight of Kashmiri Pandits have often cropped up in my mind. How are these unfortunate victims of avoidable tragedy connected with the commissions and omissions pointed out by me in the chapters titled ‘Roots, ‘Nature and Pattern of Subversion and Terrorism’, and ‘Warning Signals’? Why do they have to suffer the conse- quences of the treacherous sabotage of my Operation Rescue as detailed in the chapters titled ‘Approach, Attack and Counter- attack’ and ‘Acquiring an Upper Hand’? The only answer that I can find to these questions is that, perhaps, it is another quirk of the Kashmiri Pandits’ destiny that they have to suffer for the sins committed by others.
Another Web of Distortion
Let me now turn briefly to another web of distortion – “Kashmir Imprisoned” – the second report of the Committee for Initiative on Kashmir. For want of space, I would lay bare, as illustrations, only a few thick threads of this foggy jumble.
At page 38 of the report, one Ghulam Hassan Mohju, 65, narrates his tale of torture by the Central Reserve Police. In the concluding portion of his narrative,* he says:
*Except for correction of ‘he’ and ‘I’ jumble, this narration is a reproduction from page 38 of the cyclostyled report.
“The doctor came and some medication was provided. When I was asked about the weapons, I said that I had lied to save my life. Again the beatings started. Again I said, ‘Yes I have weapons’ and fell unconscious. A three-star officer came in and I told him, ‘If I tell you lies you stop and at the truth you beat me.’ Then, they made me wear a uniform. I was put in a jeep and was brought back to Baramulla around 5 a.m. They dug the grounds and searched my house, and took me back. Again the beatings started. Then they handcuffed me and threw me in a rubbish heap, thinking that I was dead. Two days later, finding me still alive, they took me to Sopore police station and left me there.”
This concoction is writ large on the face of the story. Just imagine a man being ‘considered’ dead by the CRP, instead of having it ascertained from the doctor who was available. Just imagine the CRP being so foolish as to throw the ‘dead’ man on the rubbish heap of Baramulla – the man whom they are supposed to have picked up from his house in the presence of his people. Just also imagine a 65-year-old man severely beaten and handcuffed lying on the rubbish heap in Baramulla for two days and nights, without being noticed by anyone in a town where even a fly cannot buzz in your ears without the whole town coming to know about it. Just imagine further, the CRP team coming again after two days to the same spot, and, without being noticed by anyone, picking up the ‘dead’ man and taking him, of all places, to Sopore police station.
“He lies like an eye-witness.” Does this Russian proverb not fit perfectly to the above narrative of Mohju? And what can one say about the perception and bona fides of a Committee which accepts this narrative and records it in its report without asking obvious questions? The Committee does not stop at mere recording. It assumes the posture of a High Court and observes: “What was very disturbing was the casualness with which the Security Forces could perpetrate violence.”
At page 33 the report records, and obviously accepts as true, the following allegation of a group of women lawyers:
“Women BSF tell us to say ‘Jai Mata Ki’ and threaten to take the girls to Delhi and make them prostitutes or to take them to ‘mandirs’ (temples) and put tilak on them. Is this secularism?”
To any knowledgeable person, the fabrication is too glaring to be missed. The BSF has no women’s wing. The mala fide of those making the allegation as well as those accepting them are evident. The sinister design also betrays itself. Expressions like ‘Jai Mata Ki’ are coined to convey a particular kind of impression. The allegations are made not by ordinary folks, but by lawyers who are well versed in law and are otherwise active in public affairs. It also becomes clear that the Committee is ignorant even with regard to elementary matters and yet it has the audacity to speak with an air of great authority on the subject.
On page 62, the Committee refers to the allegation made by Abdul Ahmed Safi of Kanthbagh, Baramulla. He says, “On the night of April 24-25, the Army picked me up at random along with 49 others, and we were made to eat faeces and drink urine in public.” Stray references to Baramulla searches are also made in other portions of the report
When a complaint containing the above and similar other allegations, signed by a number of lawyers of Baramulla, arrived at my desk, I had it immediately sent to Baramulla’s Special Commissioner, C. Phonsog, and Corps Commander Lt.-General M.A. Zaki. This is what Phonsog said in his report:
“On request of the security forces, the District Administration placed at disposal of the former four magistrates and four police parties by 6.00 a.m. Searches were commenced simultaneously between 6 and 8 a.m. and carried out in broad daylight and were concluded by 6 p.m. A large number of people, both men and women from different areas affected by the search, met me during the following days. None of them made any mention of molestation of women, stealing of valuables, outrage to religious shrines or scriptures, damage to property, extortion or confession under pressure, tying of people to trees, forcing them to drink dirty water or smearing of face with human night-soil. All those whose houses we.e searched mentioned, without exception, that there was not a single instance of even as much as a needle having been lifted from any of their homes. They found the officers supervising the searches generally kind and understanding.”
General Zaki’s report corroborated the facts stated by Phonsog, a senior IAS officer hailing from Ladakh.
From the above-quoted reports and other inquiries made by me, it became clear that no allegations were really made by the residents affected by the searches on April 25, 1990. The allegations were subsequently concocted by a group of lawyers of Baramulla who were Jama’at-i-Islami’s activists and included in the memorandum sent three days after the incident to the authorities and the press. The Committee goes by these concocted allegations. Even otherwise, could anyone, aware of the outlook and disposition of our civil and military officers, believe that such misbehaviour, as alleged, would be permitted by them?
Methodology of Suppression and Omission
A characteristic feature of both the reports under discussion in this chapter is their methodology of suppression and omission of material facts. Let me cite a few examples.*
At page 26, the report titled ‘Kashmir Imprisoned’ says:
“Governor Jagmohan amended this section by deleting the words ‘in the State’. As a result of this amendment anyone detained under the Act in Jammu and Kashmir can be transferred to any part of the country.”
Significantly, the Committee omits to indicate the ratianale of my decision. It also suppresses a vital fact. The Supreme Court of India accepted the rationale of the amendment and upheld it.
The laws of all other States as well as the Central laws provide for detention in States outside the State to which the detenu might belong. What is valid and justified in regard to other States should be equally valid and justified for the State of Jammu & Kashmir, particularly when it is in the savage grip of subversion and terrorism.
The Committee alleges that, except in the case of Kashmiri Pandits, no cornpensation was offered to the dependents af those killed in the State. Here again, the Committee suppressed material facts. Compensation was offered to all innocent victims of terrorist violence. The widows of Mushir-ul-Haq and Abdul Ghani were paid Rupees two lakh each – one lakh from State Government and one lakh from the University. The son of the latter was also given a job in the University as a lecturer. The family of the young Muslim government servant; who was killed in the Jammu disturbances, was also paid Rupees one lakh. His brother was given a job in the State Government. Compensation was also offered to the Muslim families whose two relations were klled in the firing by the security guards when a UN jeep was attacked. But they were afraid of accepting the amount, as the terrorists had held out a threat that anyone accepting compensation from the Government would be suitably dealt with. Of course, no compensation could be offered in cases
*These examples are in addition to the school bus incident and other matters pertaining to the migration of Kashmiri Pandils, cited earlier in this chapter.
where a person died while indulging in terrorist activity and challenging lawful authority by violent means.
For the innocent victims of cross-firing, compensation was never refused. I had, in fact, reiterated my decision on a number of occasions, and the State Administration even issued a press note which is reproduced below:
“Governor Jagmohan has constituted a high level committee to recommend suitable ex-gratia relief in cases where persons might have died or suffered injury accidentally in cross-firing, or where there was no involvement in militant and violent activity but injury was suffered. The Committee would be headed by Hamidullah Khan, Chief Secretary (Law and Order), and its two other members would be Mehmood-ur-Rehman, Additional Chief Secretary (Home), and Jalil Ahmed Khan, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir. The Committee could recommend an amount up to Rupees one lakh in each case, and would have to submit its recommendations to the Governor within two months and cover all the incidents for the last one year. The cases in which relief has already been sanctioned could also be considered by the Committee for upward revision.”
In its obsession to condemn the Governor’s Administration and to paint it as devil incarnate, the Committee suppressed all the humanistic elements upon which my approach was really built. It intentionally ignored my policy statement of January 19, 1990, in which I had declared:
“Constitutionally, I would be a Governor. But, for all practical purposes, I would function like an orderly – a nursing orderly – to help the patient with love, compassion and service to regain his health.”
The Committee did not refer to such published letters as I had written to Dr. Khan, on February 8, after the death of his son, Shabir, in which I said:
”Let us create a situation in which no policeman is seen on the streets and they remain full of tourists and thriving people. Let us impress once again on our young brothers to see the futility of the cult of the gun and understand the magnitude of all-round misery that it has caused. Let us assure them that if they abandon the path of violence we would treat them with care and compassion. Let no more Shabir die. Let no one feel the permanent loss of our near and dear ones.”
The Committee, again took no notice of my communication of May 7, 1990, to officers in which I exhorted them in no uncertain terms:
“While the beastliness and malignancy of terrorism have to be rooted out with unfaltering hand of a surgeon, we must not forget that our real fight is against the forces of poverty, backwardness and economic and administrative injustices. Please remember that we are not scoring any point against anyone in the entire State, we have only one family. Some of our brothers, who have gone astray, have to be brought back to the fold of this family.”
The Committee also made no mention of my radio and television broadcasts in which I fervently reminded the Kashmiri youth that our country’s destiny lay not in barbarism, but in compassion, not in fractured cultural fabric, but in unity amidst diversity.
The Committee’s compulsive bias also led it to make contradictory observations in regard to the registration of complaints of alleged excesses. The police were given instructions to register all complaints against the security forces even if such complaints appeared to be motivated, doctored or false. During the period January 19 to Mar 26, 1990, twenty-four complaints were registered as listed in Appendix XVII. In regard to the inci- dents of firing by the BSF on February 7, 1990 I even ordered an inquiry by the Srinagar District Magistrate, Ghulam Abbass. But the Committee suppressed these hard facts. Instead, it took a queer stand. If a case was registered, it was taken as an admis- sion of guilt. If there was no registration, the administration was accused of being so callous as not to even register complaints. The Committee’s dictum appeared to be: “heads I win; tails you lose”.
This Committee also took no notice of absence of killing in ‘police encounters’, the allegation in respect of which were so common in Punjab.
The Committee was equally unfair to our valiant para-military forces. It did not appreciate the fact that our jawans, hailing from such hot regions as Bihar and West Bengal, had to stand for hours together in chilly winds, with heaps of snow around, and suffering surprise and swift attacks from Pakistan-trained guerrillas who showed no compunctions of conscience to use the non-combatant population as their shield and camouflage.
The Committee does not condemn the terrorists for intentionally exposing the innocent people to risks of death. Instead, it finds fault with para-military forces who have to choose between dying as sitting ducks and resorting to defensive firing and pursuing the offenders to apprehend them. Nothing could be more demoralising to our forces than being subjected to totally one-sided, and mostly concocted, versions of the agents of terrorists. The Committee listens to highly coloured and grossly exaggerated versions of an Assistant Engineer but does not find time to hear the anguished cries of the kith and kin of a young BSF doctor who was gunned down while going to the succour of the injured persons from both sides.
Inder Mohan and his Unclean Hands
Inder Mohan’s role in weaving the webs of distortion needs to be specially mentioned. It would, apart from making known how the affairs of organisations like PUCL are being run, reveal why ‘Governor Jagmohan in particular’ was being blamed and associated, without any evidence whatsoever, with alleged lapses and excesses of security forces.
The cat came partly out of the bag when the Indian Express published a letter jointly written by Inder Mohan and George Mathew. Ironically, this letter got published in the same issue of the paper in which the two letters of S.N. Drabu and Thakur Dass, exposing the perjuries of the Committee in regard to the Army school bus incident appeared. The letter, inter alia, stated:
“Several citizen groups and organisations have visited Kashmir to gauge the situation and the feelings of Kashmiris. Some of us have had occasion to relate personally to their suffering. In fact, Jagmohan has come to be identified in popular perception as a symbol of repression with shades of an anti-Muslim bias. We are not surprised. The Governor’s recall is in our opinion a precondition to build the confidence of Kashmir in its common destiny with India.”
It should be evident to a discerning mind that the real objective of Inder Mohan and the likes of him was to manoeuvre my recall. Their methodology was to carry out false propaganda at a high pitch, making use of the resources and the forum of the PUCL, and then ask for my recall on that false propaganda.
The unclean hands of Inder Mohan, are seen in another letter of his published in The Hindustan Times of May 16, 1990. This letter was in response to a report which appeared in The Hindustan Times of April 30 under the caption ‘PUCL Report Flayed’. After questioning the validity of the observations made in the report about the encouraging results achieved by the Governor and after claiming that the PUCL report was based on “first-hand direct knowledge acquired by the team members”, Inder Mohan wrote in the aforesaid letter:
“Why was Jagmohan so keen to oblige his Home Minister by releasing five hardliners in exchange for his daughter?”
Inder Mohan knew perfectly well from his first-hand knowledge that I was not the Governor of the State at the time of Rubaiya Sayeed’s kidnapping (December 8, 1989) and her release (December 13), and that one of the reasons for my being sent to the State again on January 19, 1990, was the total collapse of the Kashmir Administration and its virtual take-over by the subversives. But Inder Mohan’s expertise in the art of disinformation impelled him to make the accusation, believing that a large segment of the Indian populace would not be remembering, in mid-May 1990, the true position of the case. his game plan, obviously, was to level false allegations after spicing them with seemingly acceptable slants of “first-hand knowledge” and hope that a sizeable section of the people would take it.
As Trotsky once observed, the modern tragedy, in essence, lies in the wider conflict between man’s ‘awakened mind and his constricting environment’. The more motivated a person is to do something creative, the worse he is likely to be treated by his compatriots. This, unfortunately, has been the experience, in post-Independence India, of practically all those who have tried to set the moorings of public affairs right by way of deeds and solid work, instead of harpmg on mere words and empty rhetorics.
During my fairly long innings in the Delhi Development Authority, I had to undergo a similar experience, when I attempted to bring some order in the chaotic conditions and ensure planned development of the metropolis. I came into conflict with a number of vested interests. A part of my experience has been narrated in my books – Rebuilding Shajahanabad: The Walled City of Delhi; Island of Truth; and The Challenge of Our Cities.
In Jama Masjid-Red Fort complex,* in the improvement of which I was specially interested, I came into conflict with Inder Mohan who, supposedly, was doing some social work in the area. After the lifting of Emergency in March 1977, Inder Mohan spread a number of incorrect stories about me, intentionally and knowingly and with a design. Some of these stories found place in some post-emergency books – ‘instant histories’ written in haste by journalist-writers with whatever ‘material’ they could lay their hands on, as everyone was keen to beat the other in the race for early publication. Persons like Inder Mohan got ample opportunities to pass on their motivated stories to these journalists. Consequently, a number of glaring inaccuracies crept in, particularly with regard to the city’s clearance programme.
So far as the Emergency, its imposition in June 1975 and its operation till March 1977 was concerned, I had nothing whatsoever to do with it, being the Vice-Chairman of Delhi Development Authority at that time. But the post-Emergency period, in its early phase, was swayed by a persecution mania. I was unjustly pilloried, primarily because I refused to step out of my Island of Truth and shift the alleged blame on Mrs. Indira Gandhi or Sanjay Gandhi. All the schemes executed by me
*For my blueprint of the complex, see Chapter VI of my book Rebuilding ShahJahanabad
during the Emergency were part of the Delhi Master Plan and the subsidiary projects envisaged under it. These were approved by the Union Cabinet and Parliament or other competent authorities much before the imposition of Emergency. Undoubtedly, the work pertaining to the ‘planned development of Delhi’ attained tremendous acceleration during the period; but this was largely due to the hasty retreat of vested interests who earlier caused some obstruction or the other.
In my book, Island of Truth, published in early 1978, I pointed out all the inaccuracies in the post-Emergency books and also referred to the vicious atmosphere in which contributions of persons like me, instead of being appreciated, were condemned. The truth of my assertions was so unassailable that I swore the whole of the book as affidavit and filed it in the special Court of Justice M.L. Jain in which Mrs. Indira Gandhi was being prosecuted on the basis of the Shah Commission’s findings.* The then Government, or anyone else, did not muster, enough courage to file counter-affidavit to challenge any of the facts recorded in the book.
In the Preface and in the opening lines of Chapter I, I indicated my motivation for writing the book in the following words:
“Mine is an island of truth – truth in its essence, truth in its basic framework. I intend to take you to this island. But for reaching this island, we have to pass through a turbulent sea of falsehood. The island, too, is desolate and deserted. Of late, it has been visited by marauders and systematically pillaged and shorn of its greenery. The sentinels themselves have been terrorized.
Notwithstanding the silence and sullenness that has gripped this once buoyant and thriving island, I hope to show you a few spots from which the reality may emerge, and you may be able to see true reflections even in a cracked mirror. You may realize that what was done in Delhi during the emergency was development and not ‘demolition’. It was a dawn, not a doom.
*The findings of the Shah Commission were subsequently declared null and void by the Delhi High Court.
How many of us have been told that before the operation ‘resettlement’ the squatters were scattered on road berms, slushy and stinking beds of the river dnd embankment of ‘nallahs’ etc. in 1,400 haphazard clusters. 72 per cent of which had no water taps, 69 per cent no lavatories, 68 per cent no storm water drains and 63 per cent no street lighting? How many of us have been told that in one year about 2,000 acres of developed land, the market value of which exceeds, Rs.200 crore, has been distributed amongst the urban poor, and that this is the biggest socialist measure ever taken in the city of any developing country in the world?
And what about the much-maligned Turkman Gate incident? Is it not shocking that none of the writers of the Turkman Gate story makes it clear that the area had been declareld unfit for human habitation, that the houses in question had been acquired, that, as was tragically demonstrated by eight subsequent deaths due to collapse of houses, the inmates lived under constant risk of death, and that, against 120 houses cleared, about 1,000 alternative allotments had been made, including 200 flats in the most attractive colony of Ranjit Nagar/Patel Nagar and 20 commercial plots? Why no one speaks of the compensation, of beautiful flats, or of liberal terms of allotment of plots and commercial sites, the market value of which would run into several lakhs? Why everyone speaks ol bulldozers knowing that they were used, as in the last decade or so, for clearing the debris?
When the autumn is gone, the storm blown over, and the dust and haze of ignorance and prejudice settled down, the true faces of those guilty of falsifying history will stand exposed. Today, by their own queer logic of slant and slander, they may paint a false picture. But what will be the verdict of history? How will they- escape the terrible consequences of their falsehood? Will not their murky soul stifle and destroy them? Truth can be hid, but not for all times.
The book has been written from a roadside shelter in which I have taken temporary refuge during the current torrential rain. I seek forgiveness if a drop or two has leaked from my shelter and drenched a few of my papers. Truth, moreover, by its very nature is not tactful and has no tactics.”
In Chapter VI titled ‘Lies, Half-Truth and Convenient Conscience’ and Chapter VII titled ‘Untold Story of Turkman Gate’, I laid bare the true position and also briefly referred to the role of lnder Mohan. The Sunday magazine published excerpts from the former chapter in its two issues of July 30 and August 6, 1978. Inder Mohan was stung. Truth annoyed him. Instead of appreciating my motivation, he resorted to aggressive and browbeating tactics. He virtually came to calling me names and labelled me ‘liar’ in the rejoinder which was published in the same magazine in its issue of August 20, 1978.
To vindicate my position, I filed a defamation suit (Suit No. 828 of 1979) against him in the Delhi High Court on July 23, 1979. In addition to the submission that Inder Mohan’s accusations were false and defamatory, I cited fifteen concrete examples to show how grievously I had been wronged. The portion of the suit which incorporates these examples has been reproduced in Appendix XVIII. A perusal of this appendix would show to the public, including Inder Mohan’s friends and mentors in the PUCL, the extent to which he could go.
Had there been any truth in the so-called facts of Inder Mohan, he would have contested them in a straightfolward manner. Instead, he resorted to all sorts of means to delay the proceedings. The suit dated July 73, 1979, was against the publication dated August 20, 1978, and was clearly within the limitation period. But Inder Mohan brought in the date of Mainstream. The Judge rightly rejected his diversionary tactics and ruled that the case should proceed. But by some course of events, the direction of which I have not been able to ccmprehend, the case got fixed before the Court, presided over by Justice Rajinder Sachar, which gave stay order.
The case is still pending at a preliminary stage after twelve years of its institution. I have mentioned the details not only to demonstrate the infirmities of our legal system and to stress the urgent necessity of introducing judicial audit* but also to raise a
* I had the opportunity to attend almost all the Governors’ Conferences held from February 1980 to 1990. In these conferences, I have been stressing the importance of effecting institutional reforms, including introduction of judicial audit. For no system, perhaps, has deteriorated in the post-Independence India as much as the legal system.
basic question with regard to the attitude of Inder Mohan. Why is he afraid of getting the truth of his or my assertions ascertained by the High Court? If he is hoping that I would get tired on account of his delaying tactics, he is mistaken. For I have not taken the issue on a personal plane only; I also want to show, maybe in a limited way, how public opinion in this country is being misled and how someone trying to put in solid and sound work, can be harassed or intimidated.
Should a person of Inder Mohan’s background or hostility to me have been allowed to use, directly or indirectly, the material and financial resources of tihe PUCL to carry out false propaganda against me and in the process undermine the national effort to free Kashmir from the clutches of savage terrorism? I would leave this question for consideration to the general public and well-meaning persons in the PUCL. Already, some discerning persons like M.V. Rama Murty, Vice-President, PUCL, Andhra Pradesh, have expressed their sorrow over what the ‘Committee for Initiative on Kashmir’ has done. This is what Rama Murty wrote in his letter of May 5 published in the Indian Express on May 1990:
“I read the report of the PUCL team published in your paper with anguish in my heart. It has departed from the accepted policies of PUCL.
The militants among the terrorists by their conduct infringed upon the civil liberties of the people. This point was not prominently brought out in the report. It should not be the concern of PUCL to canvass support for the militants indirectly on the ground that the demand of the people of Kashmir is for independence and not for joining Pakistan. It is not given to PUCL to assess the minds of the people of Kashmir when there is no known method of gauging public opinion.
It is beyond the purview of PUCL to suggest reconciliation. One wonders whom the team had in mind. Is it the section of militants that must be appeased or the leaders of public opinion in Kashmir who did not raise their little finger to condemn violence on the part of militants?
The PUCL team erred in not drawing a lesson from the fact that some Hindus have taken shelter in camps at Delhi also. The team should not have opined that setting up of camps was not necessary.
In sum, the report is highly subjective and not supported by facts.”
Dimensions of the Hall of Crooked Mirrors
These, then, are the dimensions of the hall of the distorted mirrors which the “Committee for Initiative on Kashmir” built on the foundation of deception, suppression, casualness, prejudices, personal vendetta, and arrogance. No one could have done greater injustice under the pretensions of justice. No one could have violated more craftily the fundamental human rights in the name of human rights. No one could have danced with greater ecstasy to the drum-beats of subversives and their agents. No one could have embraced more enthusiastically the sinners and slaughterers. No one could have overlooked the blood-thirsty jaws of terrorism that consumed innocent persons like the Ganjus, the Premis and the Tikoos. And no one could have resorted to a greater degree of suppression and intentionally turned a blind eye to hard facts and data, such as the occurrence of about 2,000 violent incidents, including 500 bamb blasts, in a year before the imposition of Governor’s Rule.
All crimes were ignored by the Committee if the cry was for ‘azadi’ and not for merger with Pakistan. All activities became non-communal if, along with Kashmiri Pandits, some Muslim ‘informers’ and ‘traitors’ were also killed, even if the decision to pronounce the persons informers and traitors were taken by the murderers themselves. The Committee did not see any of the propaganda and motivational literature, soaked in blood and dagger terminology and the battle cry of Quran in one hand and sword in another. Nor did it come across even a single case out of the scores of cases of connivance, collusions and conspiracies, including the well-publicised case of Srinagar Jail break in which twelve hard-core terrorists escaped after weaving deftly the chain of conspiracy in which practically every official concerned got involved.
The Committee intentionally glossec over the known written instructions* of the leaders of the subversives operating from Pakistan which said: ‘Continue your propaganda both inside and outside your houses and localities. Keep also in full swing the propaganda campaign against the security forces, and false and reckless allegations** should be made.”
The Committee wove a pattern which was similar to the one woven by Goebbels during the Second World War. No wonder, it succeeded for a while and played its part in seeing me out of the State. But history does not rest in the lap of such manipulators for long. Truth soon tears the veil of falsehood and the guilty either sink into oblivion or get buried under the debris of their own hall of crooked mirrors’.
A few journalists like Balraj Puri and Kuldip Nayar, who show an amazing capacity to sacrifice truth to propitiate their one-eyed goddess of ‘secularism’, have, taking advantage of their easy access to the press, been persisting with the untruth, initially spread by the aforesaid ‘Committee on Kashmir’, that I was responsible for the ‘migration’ of the Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley. They, too, stand thoroughly exposed. Exasperated by their false propaganda, H.N. Jattu, President, All India Kashmir Pandits Conference, sent a letter/’write-up’ to The Tribune, Chandigarh, The Excelsior, Jammu, and a few other magazines. This letter/’write-up’, citing documents and concrete evidence, effectively demolishes their castle of concoction. It is reproduced in Appendix XXVI.***
*There were written instructions contained in the booklet written by Raja Mohammad Muzaffar Khan of ‘J. & K. Liberation Front’.
**There are a number of cases in which false allegations were intentionally coined. A touch of authenticity was imparted by procuring helpful statements from local officials who were either part of the subversive network or too terror stricken to refuse. One such well-publicised case was of “rape of 23 women of Kunan in the Valley on February 23, 1991-. After a thorough enquiry and spot visits, the Press Council of India concluded: “The Kunan rape story on close examination turns out to be a massive hoax orchestrated by militant groups and their sympathisers and mentors in Kashmir and abroad, as a part of a cleverly contrived strategy of psychological warfare and as an entry point for reinscribing Kashmir on the international agenda as a human rights issue. The women of Kunan have been tutored or coerced into making statements derogating their own honour and dignity. This cruel exploitation of simple women through demeaning self-abuse is itself a deplorable human rights violation.”
***The letter was published in The Tribune of October 28, 1993 and the ‘write-up’ in The Excelsior of November, 1993.