REPORT ON THE STUDY TOUR OF BEERSMANS PAUL, PRESIDENT OF THE BELGIAN ASSOCIATION FOR SOLIDARITY WITH J&K TO INDIA AND THE INDIAN J&K STATE FROM 02 TO 30 AUGUST 2008
Syed Ali Shah Geelani started agitation against the land transfer to the Amarnath Shrine Board because he feared Hindus would settle permanently and thus change the demographic composition of the population. This fear is completely without ground as it is impossible to settle permanently in that area: more than six months of the year this area is covered with snow, there are blizzards and it is so cold that nobody can survive there. On the other hand, it is surprising that the same concern regarding the demographic composition of the population was not there in 1990. In that year, the Kashmiri Pandits were hounded out of the Valley by militancy in 1990. The Kashmiri Pandits are the original Kashmiri speaking inhabitants of the Valley. Some 500.000 of them fled from the Valley to safer places. This exodus changed drastically the demographic composition of the population in the Valley. At that time, nobody cared about this: no agitation, no demonstrations, no harthals, no bandhs, no strikes, nothing. After more than eighteen years, the return of the Kashmiri Pandits is more and more blurred. Nevertheless, they have their emotional attachment with their birth ground, their roots. They only can return when peace is there and when the rule of law, not the rule of majority is re-installed.
Pakistan has no stand in J&K. Pakistan invaded J&K and is at the origin of the de facto partitioning of the State. As early as 13 August 1948 the UN Commission for India and Pakistan requested Pakistan to withdraw its troops from the State as a pre-condition for organising the plebiscite. The same Commission in its resolution of 5 January 1949 repeated this request. Until this date, Pakistan has not withdrawn its armed forces and consequently the plebiscite has not been held.
This conclusion is confirmed by the ‘Report on Kashmir: present situation and future prospects’ of Rapporteur Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, Vice Chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Union, and almost unanimously adopted by the Committee on Foreign Affairs (March 2007) and by the European Parliament.