Being known as Paradise on Earth, Kashmir is truly a heaven for travelers for its usher beauty. The same may not be true to its inhabitants. The valley has been worst-hit places about terrorist attacks in India and still a battle zone. The constant struggle for survival has worn out the lives of the inhabitants of Kashmir especially the minorities. The rate of attacks on civilians by terror outfits in J&K has been on the up nowadays ever since the BJP came into power.
According to PTI, on the 7th of October, 2021 the subsequent murders of a young schoolteacher Deepak Chand and principal Supinder Kour have had a ripple effect, because they were singled out and shot dead after being identified as non-Muslims by the terrorists Thursday at the Government Boys Higher Secondary school in Eidgah. On October 5, gunmen shot: Makhan Lal Bindroo, a pharmacist from the Kashmiri Pandit minority; Virender Paswan, a Hindu street-food vendor from Bihar state; and Mohammad Shafi Lone, a Muslim taxi driver. On October 2, gunmen killed Majid Ahmad Gojri and Mohammad Shafi Dar, both Muslims.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and vice president of National Conference, Omar Abdullah, on Friday, appealed to Kashmiri pandits not to leave their homes and allow a repeat of the 90s. “I believe these attacks are aimed to drive a wedge between the communities and to push them out of Kashmir. We can’t let that happen,” he said and added that the attackers are trying to force another exodus.
A majority of the minority families who have moved out due to the increase in the rate of targeted killings on minorities are those who came back to Kashmir under the Prime Minister’s Rehabilitation Package for Pandits, as detailed by Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai in the Rajya Sabha in July this year. Other Kashmiri Pandits also said there is a huge fear of the return of the 1990s’ scenario, although the union territory administration has asked the minorities not to panic.
Meanwhile, the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) also called Gupkar Alliance, after a meeting, in statement, said the situation prevailing in Jammu and Kashmir is the result of the failure of policies of the government that have brought Jammu and Kashmir to this point. “Removal of article 370 was sold to the country as a solution to the problem of Kashmir,” it said. PAGD said the recent decisions of Jammu and Kashmir only heightened the differences between communities that otherwise live peacefully together.
It said while it is true that the majority of the civilians killed in Kashmir have been Muslims, it doesn’t absolve anyone of the responsibility to help the minorities. “We appeal to those who may be considering fleeing valley to reconsider their decision,” it said.
At least 26 people have been ruthlessly murdered by terrorists in 2021 and that includes political party members of various minority parties but also the BJP is being targeted, according to police reports. In response the Indian security forces committed extrajudicial killings of people alleged to be militants in counterinsurgency operations in the state of J&K. “Kashmiris are caught in unending violence from attacks by militants and abuses by government authorities and security forces,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities should protect minorities in Kashmir and ensure justice for victims of security force abuses.”
“The Indian government’s failure to confront its rights abuses feeds Kashmir’s brutal cycle of violence,” Meenakshi Ganguly said. “This violence won’t end without justice for past and present abuses and respect for people’s rights and freedoms.”
The Resistance Front, an extremist militant group that Indian authorities say is affiliated with the Islamist armed group Lashkar-e-Taiba, claimed responsibility for several of the killings saying they were targeting people who worked for the government as they think they are anti-Kashmir.
During independence, this current small minority was quite a favored section of the society. After 1950, 20% of the population left the valley due to land reforms. As a consequence, by 1981, the population of the Kashmiri Pandits was reduced to 5% of the total population. The increase in militant activities and threats given by radical Islamists and extremist terror outfits forced them to migrate even more. On 19th January 1990, it was the doom day for this particular community. Mosques declared that Kashmiri Pandits were atheists and didn’t believe in Islam. For this reason, they would had to leave their homeland and migrate or else be killed by radical and extremists Muslims. Due to this, it was estimated that more than 100000 to 190000 out of near 140000 to 200000 Kashmiri Pandits left their homeland and migrated elsewhere and it still is a controversy that in this exodus the then Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Jagmohan Malhotra was highly involved. The situation hasn’t changed a bit from that day onwards. The bloodbath has been going till date.
The government has failed to bring about their safe return. The killings of people from minority communities who chose to remain or are working in Jammu and Kashmir will further slow these efforts. Only a few hundred displaced Kashmiri Pandit families have returned in response to government programs to create jobs and shelters. “Far from enabling their return, the fear now is that these killings could spread a fresh wave of panic and lead to a fresh migration of non-Muslims from Kashmir,” said an anonymous Kashmiri analyst.
Central Security forces have been implicated in numerous abuses in enforcing restrictions since August 2019 including routine harassment and ill-treatment at checkpoints, arbitrary detention, torture, and extrajudicial killings. For example, In July 2020, security forces killed three men in the Shopian district claiming they were militants and were killed in a gunfight during a search operation. Their families said that the men were laborers from Jammu who had gone in search of work. An investigation by the J&K police department found the army claims to be false, and in December 2020 the police filed charges against an army captain and two civilians for abduction and murder of the three workers.
A 2019 report from the UN high commissioner for human rights stated abuses by both armed groups and government security forces in Kashmir. It said that armed groups were responsible for human rights abuses in Kashmir including kidnappings, killings of civilians, sexual violence, recruitment of children for armed combat, and attacks on people affiliated or associated with political organizations in Jammu and Kashmir. India has long accused Pakistan of providing material support, arms, and training to the militant groups. Attacks in Kashmir have resulted in more than 50,000 deaths since 1989. The UN report also discussed the use of excessive force and arbitrary detention by security forces.
An activist from PoK and President of the Jammu and Kashmir Peace and Development Initiative Dr. Amjad Ayub Mirza recently expressed his concern about the rise of terror in Jammu and Kashmir, by writing a letter to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). According to Nazhat Shameem, President of the UNHRC, Mirza wrote in the letter that it is crucial to emphasize that the bulk of the victims of these targeted killings are members of the Hindu and Sikh minority communities. Terrorists from Pakistan have been infiltrating from across the Line of Control and causing havoc. Dr. Mirza also stated that after the fall of Kabul and the Taliban’s conquest of most of Afghanistan, thousands of ‘jihadi terrorists’ have arrived in Pakistani-occupied Kashmir, and new launch pads for infiltration into the Indian union region of Jammu and Kashmir have been formed. He believes that the training of these ‘jihadi’ commandos and suicide bombers are taking place at the National Counter-Terrorism Center in Pabbi, Punjab. He also urged the UNHRC to look at Pakistan’s part in funding terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. He said that immediate UN economic and military sanctions should be imposed on Pakistan.
After all this, it’s being said that now the BJP led central government has its Jagmohan Malhotra moment. Despite the intelligence inputs, it is once again proving difficult for the state in Kashmir to protect minorities. Now, as in 1990, it is easier to politically use the plight of minorities in Kashmir than to provide them security. The BJP government might want to break with the shackles of the past, but its hands are even more tied when it comes to solving real security dilemmas as it’s facing the heat from both east and west that is from China and Pakistan.