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  • Writer's pictureMohinder Gulati

Snowflakes on Shankaracharya Mandir, and a Citizen Commission on Kashmiri Hindu Genocide


Thirty-three years ago this January, as snowflakes swirled in Kashmir Valley, Islamic terrorists drove out the entire native Kashmiri Hindu community from there. The ominous slogan, “Ralliv, Challiv, ya Galliv (Convert to Islam, Flee, or Perish,)” which their ancestors heard centuries ago when Islam claimed the Valley, had resurfaced. It became the Islamic terrorists’ full-throated cry.


Many Kashmiri Muslims prioritized their religion over their duties as citizens of India. They aligned with the Islamic terrorists who considered the Kashmiri Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists as agents of India. The latter became the soft targets. Their fear snowballed into panic and compelled them to flee to Jammu and other parts of India.


The State and Central government’s initial response to the evolving crisis was driven by cynical political calculations. The Kashmiri Hindus, a miniscule minority, were of no political relevance. So, they were abandoned to their fate in shoddy refugee camps. Many died prematurely, suffering from depression, or disease, while pining for home. This was nothing but a genocide. India’s dysfunctional political and social organs remained silent at best and complicit at worst. The denouement of secular and democratic India seemed at hand.


The decades rolled by. The Kashmiri Hindus were labeled as ‘Migrants’ to obscure the reasons for their forced exodus, trivialize the enormity of their loss, and underplay the government’s culpability. They, however, willingly bore the burden of their faith and citizenship, and adapted to their new reality.


The Supreme Court recently dismissed again the Kashmiri Hindus’ plea for justice as being too old. Ironically, they admitted a plea for the terribly tragic but much older 1984 riots in Delhi. This is an alarming assault on the rule of law and equality before justice. The self-acknowledged killers of innocent civilians continue to enjoy government hospitality at the taxpayer’s expense. This decision weakens a law-abiding citizen’s faith in Lady Justice. She is supposed to be blind, but political considerations and expediency seem to have again seeped through her blinds.


The challenge in Kashmir is to address the aspirations of the majority while ensuring the safety and dignity of all groups other than the majority. This challenge reflects several paradoxes. The Kashmiri Muslims, the overwhelming majority in the Valley, have controlled all levers of power for decades, but project themselves as an oppressed minority of India. Secondly, the Kashmiri Muslim politicians pull for India when they are at the helm but change their tune when out of power. Recurrent rhetoric about self-determination, even secession, which no sovereign country ignores, is tolerated. This ‘tolerance’ has spawned a cottage-industry of disruptive protests which are incited, largely, by the powerful Islamist elements in the Valley. These elements exact a human toll and add to India’s challenges.


These challenges cannot be set aside from the Government of India’s ‘to-do’ task list. Instead, they call for objective retrospection and implementation of pragmatic actions to mitigate policy and governance failures in Kashmir. The Government of India must at the very least:

1. Bring to justice, within 1 year, the main person(s) accused of murder, or rape of Kashmiri Hindus, and the destruction of Hindu temples in Kashmir Valley.

2. Ensure the physical security of those Kashmiri Hindus who choose to return to Kashmir Valley and live there.

3.

Financially compensate family members of Kashmiri Hindus who lost their lives because of Islamic terrorism in Kashmir.

4. Restore properties, temples and lands that were usurped, encroached on, or sold under duress, to the rightful owners or legally recognized bodies.

5. Appoint a Judicial Commission of Inquiry headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, with adequate powers and resources, to investigate the exodus of the Kashmiri Hindus and the complicity of including those who facilitated this exodus, and publish its findings within 1 year.


If the Government of India declines to take notice of these requests, then the only option for law-abiding Indians is to form a “Citizen Commission” to create greater public awareness about this issue and highlight obvious flaws in our democracy. Fully-funded by the citizens, this Commission will comprise of eminent retired jurists, administrators, journalists, and police officers. The scope and processes of the Commission would be similar to any Commission appointed by the Government or the Supreme Court.


Although such a Commission will lack the legal authority to call for records and witnesses, it will be imbued with moral authority that would be higher than what the unwilling judiciary and inept government will bestow on an institutional Commission. The Citizen Commission will appeal to the conscience of our society and invite volunteer witnesses to testify about their lived experiences and bring forth relevant evidence available with them.

Holding its hearings in public, the Commission shall live-stream its proceedings (except when witnesses may want to protect their privacy and safety). The Commission will aim to finish its hearings and submit a report within one year. The hearings and the Commission’s report shall, hopefully, awaken the dying conscience of the Supreme Court and the insensitive Governments. Failing all else, these records shall become the archives for future generations to learn from and stand up to defend their homes and faith when the institutions of governance betray their solemn pledge to protect them.


Snowflakes will swirl again in Kashmir Valley next January, and the almond trees on the slopes by Shankaracharya Temple will prepare to bloom. Perhaps, the Kashmiri Hindus’ decades-long wait will also bear fruit; not because of the government’s actions but because of the Indian citizens’ desire to correct their flawed democracy. The challenges are daunting but for our civilization, failure is no longer an option.


Contributed by GHTN Volunteers Sidarth Ambardar and Mohinder Gulati

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1 Comment


Unknown member
Jan 16, 2023

The judiciary is politicised though they may say otherwise. The judges are humans and have their biases. A Citizen Commission will do justice but only to an extent. The Hindu consciousness will have to rise so that politicians and the entire polity acts to give justice to the oppressed Kashmiris. Jai Hind.

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