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-
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.