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Friday, September 24, 2021

Remembering the modern-day genocide of Kashmiri Hindus

The Holocaust Remembrance Day highlights the efforts of the national community to respond to, said the Reconciliation, Return & Rehabilitation, a body of the Kashmiri Pandit Migrants, on Tuesday.

Observed each year on January 19, the Kashmiri Pandits body paid tributes in the memory of victims and reaffirmed their commitment to counter the violence, racism, and other forms of intolerance.

Satish Mahaldar, Chairman of the Reconciliation, Return & Rehabilitation said,”The day matters to the Kashmiri Pandits because it is one of the most extensively documented instances of atrocities, hatred, dehumanisation, and apathy in the present day world history. The Holocaust Day matters to the community because when ethnic cleansing of the minorities was happening, the world just watched silently.”

The day should make all in and outside India to ponder and investigate what went wrong so horrifically in a place of high culture, high modernity and supposedly ‘civilised’ Kashmiri way of life, he said.

The day is particularly important as it is realised that, unfortunately, it was not an isolated event. The 20th century saw acts of horrific violence ranging from the murder of over a lakh innocent Kashmiris to the ethnic cleansing of the Kashmiri Pandits.

“Ethnic cleansing of the minorities in Kashmir demonstrated the fragility of all societies and of the institutions that were supposed to protect the security and rights of all. It showed how institutions turned against a segment of the society” said Mahaldar.

This act highlighted the aspects of human behaviour that affected all societies, such act of susceptibility to scapegoating and the desire for simple answers to complex problems; the potential for extreme violence and the abuse of power; and the roles that fear, peer pressure, indifference, greed and resentment that have played out in social and political relations in Kashmir.

Ethnic cleansing of the minorities in Kashmir demonstrated the dangers of prejudice, discrimination and dehumanisation and other forms of racism and intolerance. It deepened the reflection about contemporary issues that affected societies around the world, such power of extremist ideologies, propaganda, the abuse of official power, and group-targeted hate and violence.

This Holocaust Day teaches us all about the possibilities in extreme actions of perpetrators. This developed an awareness not only of how hate and violence takes hold but also of the power of resistance, resilience and solidarity in local, national, and in global contexts.

The day and ethnic cleansing of the minorities in Kashmir draws attention to the state institutions and norms developed in reaction to the genocide and ethnic cleansing of minorities within the erstwhile state of J&K. This includes national and constitutional laws for promoting and encouraging respect for human rights; promoting individual rights and equal treatment under the law; protecting civilians in any form of armed conflict; and protecting individuals who have fled to other states because of a fear of persecution. This can help build a culture of respect for these institutions and norms, as well as national constitutional laws/norms that are drawn from them.

Ethnic cleansing of minorities in Kashmir highlights the efforts of the national community to respond to the modern-day genocide. Unfortunately, till date the Government of India has not established the convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide.

The former J&K governments have forced the original aborigines in an involuntary process of cultural assimilation due to which the ethnic minority is left with no choice but to adopt the language, identity, norms, customs, traditions, perceptions, way of life and often religion and ideology of the established and generally larger community belonging to the dominant culture.

Besides the ethnic and cultural genocide, the mainstream political parties, both the national and the regional ones, are equally responsible for the ‘Policide’ of the Kashmiri Pandits.

Since 1965 the political empowerment has been intentionally denied to the original aborigines and the ethic minority of the state. Since 1990 more than four lakh people are unable to exercise their democratic rights. They are unable to cast their votes, which is the basic foundation of a democracy.

Mahaldar said, “In the light of all this, it is important for the J&K government and the Union of India to rise up to the responsibility towards the Constitution of India. The safeguarding of the aborigines is enshrined in the Constitution of our country. Hence, the government must protect the Kashmiri Pandit community by allocating a certain budget towards this.”

He demanded, “Recognition that five lakh Kashmiri Pandits Return & Rehabilitation expenditure should be part and parcel of the annual J&K Budget. Furthermore, we demand that at least 2.5/10 of 2.5 per cent (meaning 0.25 per cent) of the annual J&K Budget should be on a recurring basis, devoted to the return and rehabilitation of the Kashmir Pandits in the valley. This Budget should be over and above the current welfare of the migrant Budget.

“We believe that the return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandit’s be treated as a matter of priority.

“While exercising the delimitation process, the names of the Kashmiri Pandit migrants should be incorporated in order to restore the democratic rights.”

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline)


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