The IST News Service
14th Sep is commemorated as Martyr’s day or Balidan Divas
As a mark of respect and commemoration for all the martyrs of religious extermination and genocide in our homeland of Kashmir, Kashmiri Pandits Australia – in Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra – all came together and submitted the same memorandum to Consulate offices – High Commissioner of India, HE Mr. A.M. Gondane (in Canberra) and consular officers in different cities, says a media release by Ash Raina, Executive Member – Global KP Diaspora (GKPD) , and based in Brisbane.
This was an extension of what has been done by the community representatives of team GKPD, across the world – USA, Finland, Germany, UK, Singapore, New Zealand, Africa and India. There was a high decibel – moral, emotional and verbal – support from all the major cities of the world and this was showcased by the support which our petition got Petition of Kashmiri Pandits to Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. In a span of 10 days, the petition managed to collect close to 14,000 signatures, from 50 plus countries.
To put it into perspective, the “aboriginals” of Kashmir, Kashmiri Pandits (Kashmiri Hindus or locally known as Battas), 14th September is observed as Martyrs’ Day since 1990, in memory of Mr. Tikka Lal Taploo, one of the community’s icons, who was assassinated by terrorists in Kashmir (in the state of Jammu And Kashmir, India) in 1989. This was followed by large-scale and selective killings, rape and torture of the community. Nearly 1,500 men, women and children were tortured and killed by inhuman ways, and was used to scare the minority community (which was Battas) and because they represented the idea of India in Kashmir and were the emblems of nationhood. The terrorists and radicals, with support from most of the local majority population, tried violence and scare tactics to frighten the community and create an environment to push them to the wall and throw them out of Kashmir. Kashmiri Pandits have a history and connection with their homeland and they had to leave all of that – ancestral properties, land, religious places, spiritual, cultural and social relics, and their way of life, and have since been living as refugees in their own country.
Some of the slogans which Kashmiri Pandits had to hear through were:
- “Ralive, Tschalivie ya Galive” (Convert, Leave or Perish)
- “Yahan kya chalega, Nizam-e- Mustafa” (We want to be ruled under Shari’ah)
- And the WORST of them all
“Kashir banawon Pakistan, Battaw varaie, Battaneiw saan” (We will turn Kashmir into Pakistan alongwith Kashmiri Pandit women, but without their men folk).
And these slogans were communicated using various methods – by shouting in the mass protests on streets, through loud speakers of mosques, private talks within the neighbours, newspaper advertisements, notices on Pandit homes and selective killings. With that happening in the backdrop, on the fateful morning of 19th Jan 1990, nearly 700000 Kashmiri Pandits left their homeland in the dead of the night, to safer places like Jammu, Udhampur, New Delhi and other Indian cities, with the assumption that they will return after some weeks when the situation has been got under control by the government. But alas, it has been 28 years and counting, and our homeland has gone from bad to worse, with radicalism penetrating through the society.
On 14th Sep, this year, Kashmiri Pandits Australia (KPA) representatives came together and paid homage to the martyrs. They submitted a memorandum to High Commissioner of India, HE Mr. A.M. Gondane, in Canberra, as well as to Honorary Consul in Brisbane, Mrs. Archana Singh and in the consular office in Melbourne, and were given a patient hearing and assurance to pass on our memorandum to higher offices of Prime Minister of India.
New Delhi and adjoining cities, which has the highest concentration of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits, saw the community offering their homage to soldiers and civilians, who sacrificed their lives in Kashmir while fighting the terrorism. Hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits came together at Shaheed BK Ganjoo Park at Kalibari Marg and offered floral tributes to the brave souls. Bhajans were recited and tributes were paid to the martyrs.
In New Delhi, a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits also submitted the same memorandum to Mr. Hansraj Ahir, Union Minister of Home (MoS), and addressed to the Prime Minister of India, requesting him for justice to victims of terrorism.
Our memorandum focused on the fact that Kashmiri Pandits must be recognized as a bonafide, stand-alone party in the Kashmir conflict based on our indigenous heritage and the Genocide perpetrated. Government of India was requested to formally engage with the community representatives so that confidence building steps can be initiated which could lead to:
- Recognition of the exodus and ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits as Genocide
- Making available to the Displaced Kashmiri Pandits all benefits, relief and socio economic, civil and political rights as laid down in the international covenants of internally displaced persons uprooted from their Homeland due to religious and sectarian violence. Upgradation of the proposed State Temple and Shrine bill based on community guidance would be a good step in this direction
- Accord recognition to the displaced Kashmiri Pandit community as a legitimate stakeholder in the final solution to the current imbroglio
Kashmiri Pandits sought an institutional, inter-ministerial mechanism to coordinate with the Kashmiri Pandit representatives for the effective implementation of the above-mentioned demands and to deal with any other exigencies or contingent situations. Consideration for setting up of:
- Constitutional arrangements for the return and rehabilitation of all seven hundred thousand Displaced Kashmiri Pandits in a separate, single, concentrated Homeland carved out in the Valley of Kashmir.
- The Constitution of India along with all associated laws and provisions be allowed to flow freely in the newly created geo-political territory without the shackles of Article 370 or Article 35A.
- A high-power Tribunal with constitutional authority to establish which causal factors were responsible for the Genocide of Kashmiri Pandits and bring the perpetrators to justice
- An immediate appropriate authority, vested with powers flowing directly from the Centre, to urgently implement suitable measures for protecting the millennia-old social, cultural and religious legacy of Kashmiri Pandits, which otherwise is fast facing obliteration at the hands of a radicalised mindset.