The rights of Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir.
Maharaja Hari Singh was the last king of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), when it got annexed by India within certain limitations which was enshrined in the article 370 of Indian constitution. The article 370 (3)explicitly mentions that the president can declare the article inoperative by public notification. But the article comes with a clause that the president can only act through the recommendation of the constituent assembly.
Since J&K didn’t have any constituent assembly and it was not plausible as of right now, the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) had to retreat for the article (368) which mentions about the amendment of the constitution by two third majority in both the house. BJP had no problems for the 2/3 majority in the lower house but in the upper house, it did have a problem but nonetheless, they received the two third majority because of absence of members from the opposite party.
Why did India especially the BJP led government had to scrap the art. 370 from Indian constitution? Primarily, the whole motive can boil down to “Mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits” and others. Jammu and Kashmir last king was Hari Singh therefore it is not debatable that Hindu had been ruling the land from time immemorial. It is also the home of “Kashmiri Pandits.”
In the early nineties, the terrorist group operating in Kashmir performed a mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. They were ordered to leave their house and flee. Based on the statistics as per wikipedia, there were almost 3lakhs to 6 lakhs Hindus in Kashmir and now in 2006, only 2000-3000 remains. Furthermore, as per Indian government, 62,000 families are registered as “Kashmiri Pandits” along with “Sikh” community as refugee in their own country.
The mass exodus of “Kashmiri Pandit” was a clear cut plan of the terrorist acting in Kashmir to make it a muslim majority area so that through force they could self determine politically upon the future of Kashmir. The mass exodus of “Kashmiri Pandit” in itself is infringement of Right to Life that is guaranteed to human by the virtue of being a human. No state can provide you life, it is the will of god that provides life and no body has the right to take it away except through lord or in some cases, through law.
The mass killings of “Kashmiri Pandits” defied many Human Rights. It was the curtailment of all natural rights. The natural rights as per John Locke are “Life, liberty and Property.” When the terrorist group ordered the Kashmiri Pandits to flee the land, they threatened the natural rights of Kashmiri Pandit and later brutally took it away from them. They burnt down the houses, shot people, raped women. It is the infringement of all the natural rights that a sane men can ever comprehend.
But, recently when BJP led government scrapped 370, the people were busy crying about the inherent rights of Kashmiri people for “self determination”. Well, the only paradox to the situation is that, “does the kashmiri people have the self determination for racial cleansing?” Can the act of mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir legitimize the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandit at first place. If no, why people aren’t talking for the rights of the “Kashmiri Pandits”?
The BJP abrogation of art. 370 and art. 35A now opens the door for the Indian government for the resettlement of “Kashmiri Pandits” in Kashmir. Would it not be a good decision for the BJP led government to uphold the natural rights of “Kashmiri Pandits” by reinstating them to their original home. Will it not be a a utilitarian concept of “maximizing happiness for maximum amount of people for maximum amount of time” like Jeremy Benthem suggest because the whole Indian people or lets says maximum Indians will rejoice it. There are always some voices of dissents and let the dissents not over shadow the natural rights of Kashmiri Pundits to pursue their happiness in their own land.
It is high time for us to show solidarity with the Kashmiri Pundits and also raise voice for their quick settlement in the Kashmir area along with the special protection of their natural rights. The government should undertake a mission to provide special measures so that they do not face hard time in transition phase.
India should be united to uphold the rights of “Kashmiri Pundits” or the Human Rights in Kashmir instead of succumbing to the segregation ideology or as John Stuart Mill suggests “tyranny of the majority”. India should not let the fate of Kashmiri Pundits be decided on the tyranny of the majority but should be protected as minority status.
(Bishnu Pokhrel is a Human Rights and Gender Justice student from Nepal. email: firstname.lastname@example.org)