Demanding justice, members of the Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora and the All India Kashmiri Samaj staged a protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on Saturday. The Kashmir genocide denial issue again gained momentum after the release of the Vivek Agnihotri directed film ‘The Kashmir Files’.
Joining the protest, Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP and senior Lutyens’ lawyer Vivek Tankha, a Kashmiri himself, said: “There will be protests if justice is not served for 32 years. Lakhs of people fled the Valley, many were killed, women were raped, and houses were burnt to ashes. But was anyone punished? Would anyone dare to go back? We cannot go to Kashmir if it is not safe, even though we are Indians.
“The government had a responsibility, both yesterday and today. We travel all over the world thinking that one day we will go back to Kashmir. Therefore, we are here asking for justice.”
Incidentally, Tankha had defended stand-up ‘comic’ Munawar Faruqui, who has disrespected Hindu deities and committed sacrilege against Hindu Dharma during his routines and also mocked the victims of the Godhra train massacre, in court. The senior Supreme Court advocate also did not say anything about the Supreme Court dismissing appeals by the Kashmir Pandit community to probe and prosecute various persons, including terrorist leader Yasin Malik, for offences including murder of over 700 Kashmiri Pandits during the height of terrorism in the valley in 1989-90.
In 2017, a bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud said that “almost 27 years have passed and it will be very difficult to gather evidences in cases of murder, arson and looting which had led to mass exodus”.
Shockingly, a few days after declining to probe the Kashmiri Pandit massacre, the Supreme Court ordered scrutiny of SIT’s decision to close 241 cases related to anti-Sikh riots in 1984.
Kashmiri Pandits contested these clear double standards. “If the court can scrutinise each case of anti-Sikh riots which happened 33 years ago and order re-opening of the closed ones, why can they not order a probe into the killings of Kashmiri Pandits which took place 27 years ago?” asked Vikas Padora, the counsel for Roots in Kashmir.
When Padora had argued before the bench that not a single FIR out of 215 registered cases was investigated by the State of Jammu & Kashmir, and the Union government too failed to take any measures to ensure justice to the families of victims or punish terrorists like Yasin Malik, the counsel was brusquely snubbed by the CJI for ‘making a political speech’.
Talking about the reluctance of the policymakers to discuss the Kashmir issue in the Parliament, Kashi, the coordinator of ‘Global Kashmiri Pandit Pravasi’ in the NCR, said: “We are holding the protest at Jantar Mantar so that our voices reach the government. For 32 years, no one has discussed our displacement in the Parliament. Till date, no legal action has been taken against the criminals and murderers. They have all gone scot-free.
“The government has not taken cognizance of the displacement of Kashmiri Hindus till date. The state governments have also ignored our issues. We, the Hindus from Kashmir, deserve to have a voice and be settled in the Valley safely.”
In 1989, Kashmiri Hindu leader and vice president of BJP’s J&K unit Pandit Tika Lal Taploo was assassinated in Srinagar, and there were scores of other targeted killings and rapes. Other prominent Hindus who were murdered included Justice Neel Kanth Ganjoo, Kashmiri poet and writer Sarwanand Koul “Premi” (along with his son), advocate Prem Nath Bhat, Lassa Koul (Director, Doordarshan Kendra Srinagar). Sarla Bhat, a nurse, was tortured, gang-raped and then murdered by Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) terrorists. Girija Tickoo, resident of Bandipora, was gang-raped and then cut into pieces by a mechanical saw.
In 1990, members of the Hizbul Mujahideen terror outfit warned Hindus to leave the Valley, which was also carried by Srinagar-based Urdu newspapers. Things came to a chilling flashpoint on 19 Jan 1990 when thousands of Kashmiri Muslims, whipped into a frenzy by anti-Hindu sloganeering from mosques, poured into the streets chanting “raliv galiv ya chaliv” (convert to Islam, leave or die), “Kashir banawon Pakistan, Bataw varaie, Batneiw saan” (We will turn Kashmir into Pakistan alongwith Kashmiri Pandit women, but without their men folk) and other incendiary slogans.
With no help forthcoming from either the state or central govt., or Army, fearing for their lives, lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits decided to flee. But their suffering did not end – many perished in inhuman conditions of the refugee camps in Jammu, and mass killing of those who stayed behind or tried to return continued for the next decade and more, such as the chilling 2003 Nadimarg masscre where 24 Kashmiri Hindus (11 men, 11 women and 2 small boys) were murdered in cold blood and their bodies disfigured.
However, even after 30 years, Kashmiri Hindus are still awaiting justice. As per data, there were 75,343 families in Kashmir in January 1990, of which more than 70,000 migrated from the Valley between 1990 and 1992.
(With IANS inputs)