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The truth about human rights in Kashmir

             The truth about human  rights  in  Kashmir
                        by  Francois  Gautier
                    National Herald, Feb. 17, 1994

  When Ms. Benazir Bhutto thunders in Geneva on the Human  Rights  abuses  in
  Kashmir,  comparing  the  plight of the Kashmiris with "the genocide of the
  Jews by the Nazis", when Amnesty International lambasts India for "its iron
  hand  in  the  Valley,"  when the United States, courtesy Ms. Robin Raphel,
  compares the situation in Kashmir "to the one in Afghanistan," they all are
  doing a grave injustice to a great country.

  For not only have Indians never been Nazis in their entire history, India's
  record  in Human Rights, even if not unblemished, is infinitely better than
  some of its neighbours, such as Afghanistan or Pakistan. As far as  Kashmir
  is  concerned,  Kashmiri  Hindus  have  suffered far more from human rights
  abuses than their Muslim brothers.

  Indeed, everybody seems to forget that not so long ago, the whole of  Kash-
  mir  was  Hindu  and  Buddhist.  The Kashmiri Pandits have records of 5,000
  years of existence in Kashmir. That  many  of  Kashmir's  inhabitants  were
  later  forcibly  or  otherwise converted by Muslim invaders is a historical
  fact; so be it, one cannot rewrite history. But what of the remaining Kash-
  miri Hindus?

  In 1941, according to census figures, there were 15 per cent Hindus in  the
  Kashmir valley; in 1981, 5 per cent; in 1991, 0.1 per cent. And today? 99.9
  per cent of the Hindu population has fled the Valley under terror and pres-
  sure  tactics.  There  are today 350,000 Kashmiri Pandits living in abysmal
  conditions in refugee camps in Delhi and Jammu?  How  many  people  abroad,
  even  in India know of the horrors they lived through: the midnight knocks,
  the stories of the men shot, strangled, kidnapped? 1,200 of them have  been
  brutally  assassinated  in  the past five years; 1,600 of their houses des-
  troyed. Does any one mention that these people are refugees  in  their  own
  homelands,  living  on government dole of Rs. 1,500 a month, that they have
  left everything behind them: property, houses, land?

  Yet, Ms. Bhutto's intense media campaign on human rights in the  Valley  is
  successfully taking root. Why is it that a people who have throughout their
  history shown unparalleled tolerance in accepting other's creeds  in  their
  fold,  whether  Christianity,  Islam  or  Buddhism,  even recognizing their
  divinity, who have never tried to convert anybody to  their  religion,  are
  seen today as communalist, intolerant, Nazi even? Why this great injustice,
  this unbeleivable scam, which Pakistan and the Kashmiri militants are using
  to the hilt?

  The first culprits are sections of the Indian intelligentsia,  journalists,
  writers,  artists, bureaucrats. They shape the minds of foreign journalists
  and western diplomats, who from day one of their posting, turn towards them
  for their information and the making of their opinion about India. In turn,
  these journalists write harsh articles on the  Indian  scene  and  the  di-
  plomats send adverse reports to their governments.

  But do these sections of the Indian elite realise that they are part  of  a
  colonial  legacy  left  by  the  British,  who trained a subserviant Indian
  westernised minority to serve their purposes? That they are only expressing
  an  immense  inferiority  complex  vis-a-vis  the  West,  always judging by
  western standards, which are totally unsuited to the Indian conditions  and
  psyche, forgetting that their forefathers had devised more than 4,000 years
  ago a great culture- social, artistic and political-  when  Europeans  were
  still living in their caves?

  The sad truth is that India is on the defensive in the  propaganda  war  in
  Kashmir.  But  Indians  are a highly intellegent race. Why don't they point
  out that the United States, the greatest proponent of human rights  in  the
  world,  the  one  who  is accusing India of unleashing a reign of terror in
  Kashmir, is the highest investor in China, conveniently forgetting that the
  Chinese  suppressed  Tibetans in Tibet. The United States also conveniently
  forgets that China has been for the past 40 years- and is  still  today-  a
  communist dictatorship, whatever the economic liberalisations.

  Now, compare Tibet and China with Kashmir and India: in Kashmir, since  in-
  dependence,  the  Indian government forbade non-Kashmiri Indians to acquire
  property in the Valley, so that the Kashmiris would not feel threatened. It
  pumped  crores  of  rupees  in  the Valley, making it the most sought after
  tourist gateway; indeed many Kashmiris turned rich on tourism.

  If to retain the Falkland islands, thousands of miles away from Great  Bri-
  tain, the English fought a war and killed innocent Argentinians in the pro-
  cess, if the United States can invade Panama because it feels its inteersts
  are threatened there, if France battles to keep Corsica in its fold, an is-
  land which could as well belong to Italy, why should not India retain  what
  has been hers for 5,000 years?

  The Indian Army is fighting a war in Kashmir, not a tea  party:  casualties
  are  bound  to  happen and the jawans, after having been shot at a thousand
  times wil retaliate once,  sooner  or  later,  in  a  fit  of  uncontrolled
  violence.  So  what? The world did not shed a single tear when the FBI went
  with armoured cars and flame throwers against innocent women, children  and
  men armed with a few pistols in Waco, Texas, killing twenty people.

  Let India stand up and take no nonsenses from the world. Theirs is  one  of
  the  oldest  and proudest civilizations of this earth and they have nothing
  to be ashamed of. Let Kashmir be reunited again, whether by force or  by  a
  peaceful  agreement  between  India and Pakistan, so that the Kashmiri Pan-
  dits, whose homeland it has been for  5,000  years,  can  return  to  their
  beloved Valley in peace.

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