A refugee is someone who fled his or her home and country owing to “a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion”, according to the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention. Many refugees are in exile to escape the effects of natural or human-made disasters.
Kashmiri Pandits in exile have been observing 20 June – World Refugee Day over years are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) people who have not crossed an international border but have moved to a different region than the one they call home within their own country attributing to similar reason as those of refugees.
It has been three decades that this forgotten community has been living in exile in various parts of India and abroad owing to lack of any concrete step by the Government of India to relocate the community in its natural habitat. It was in year 1991, Kashmiri Pandit community and its major political organization Panun Kashmir adopted Margdarshan Resolution seeking a geo political dispensation in valley to the East and North of river Jehlum. The Resolution demanded:
- a) The establishment of a separate homeland for Kashmiri Hindus in the Kashmir Valley, comprising the regions of the valley to the East and North of river Jehlum;
b) That the constitution of India be made applicable in letter and spirit in this homeland in order to ensure right to life, liberty, freedom of expression, faith, equality and rule of law;
c) That their homeland be placed under central administration with a Union Territory Status till it evolves its own economic and political infrastructure;
d) That all the seven lakh Kashmiri Hindus, which includes those who have been driven out of Kashmir in the past and yearn to return to their homeland and those who were forced to leave on account of the terrorist violence in Kashmir, be settled in the homeland on equitable basis with dignity and honour.
Though Panun Kashmir was the first organization to propose and adopt this resolution, but various other organizations like Kashmiri Samiti Delhi (Regd) followed and adopted it. Needless to say that the community connects to the ideal of this resolution because majority of exiled Kashmiri Pandits believe that demands expressed through the resolution is the only way for a respectful and dignified return of the community.
Over last 30 years there have been multiple attempts by various agencies and vested interests to break the resolve of Kashmiri Pandits of staying away from Kashmir till a separate Geo Political dispensation is allotted to the community, Panun Kashmir a premier KP organization holding the baton of resilience against all those forces has time and again defeated the nefarious designs through its various programs and activities.
This year on World Refugee Day today, Panun Kashmir and Kashmiri Samiti Delhi ( Regd) in continuity of its resolve held a protest demonstration at Jantar Mantar, Connaught Place, New Delhi. In a statement issued to the press its leaders Dr Agnishekhar and Dr Ajay Chrungoo said, “There is a cosmetic attempt to address our rehabilitation. Governments of the day have only indulged in rhetoric on return, without acknowledging what actually lead to our forced extirpation from Kashmir.” Adding that the Kashmiri Hindus have entered 4th decade of exile our genocide remains unacknowledged, unpunished and unreversed.
Coming down heavily upon those forces involved in breaking the righteous resolve of the community both the leaders said, “Efforts are on to reduce issue of reversal of genocide of Hindus of Kashmir to an issue of reconciliation between Muslims of Kashmir and Hindus of Kashmir. This attempt seeks to establish false moral equivalency between victims of genocide and the perpetrators/collaborators of genocide. This situation is unacceptable. We fear that forces having a vested interest in Denial of Genocide may collaborate to create conditions for our refoulment in future in the name of rehabilitation. Victims of ethnic cleansing cannot be subjected to genocide twice.”
Tearing through few recent attempts by quislings and vested interests acting without any mandate from the community both the leaders in a joint statement said, “Such attempts will only serve to bail out the forces of Jihad as well as deflect attention of political class in country from its basic responsibility to create conditions for durable return of exiled Kashmiri community with fully restored rights.
On the occasion of ‘World Refugee Day’ we as victims of ethnic cleansing at the hands of jihadi entrepreneurs in Kashmir fervently appeal to international community to take notice of Denial of Genocide of Hindus of Kashmir and impress upon GOI to ensure our return in a framework that is consistent with provisions of preempting future refoulment.
Appealing the Government of India they said, “We appeal to Government of India to shun the policy of Denial of Genocide of Hindus of Kashmir and forthwith abandon all such measures on return which will only lead to further refoulment.” Adding the nation must stand by Hindus of Kashmir and raise their voice powerfully against policy of Denial of our genocide which carries in it seeds of refoulment.
“Denying a genocide is worse than the act of genocide itself,” both the leaders appealed Government of India, which is a signatory to the United Nations Covenants on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide to deliver justice to the victims and survivors, should punish the guilty by setting up special genocide tribunals to try perpetrators of religious cleansing of Hindus of Kashmir.
In a tweet addressed to PM Modi, another community stalwart activist Pawan Durrani posted, “Agencies involved in re settlement of Kashmiri Hindus appear to be either clueless , or drive a decision and force it ,or actually have no idea at all …The meeting of interlocutor with people who have been handpicked by agencies is a setback and I must tell that credibility of Modi ji is at stake.”
While speaking on the occasion Sushil Pandit a noted community activist appealed the community to be vigilant to the nefarious designs of vested interests. Efforts are always on to dilute this resolve and over look the cardinal principles as enshrined in various covenants and guidelines internationally.
This World Refugee Day, many community activists took to social media appealing the Government of India to declare the displaced community as Internally Displaced Community (IDP) in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.
The fate of this exiled community languishing away from their Homeland seems to be the last thing in mind in the perpetual governments ruling in Lutyens. Though the current government has offered lip service treatment to the pertiment issues of community and even went to the extent of claiming that Genocide of Kashmiri Pandit community has happened in valley, however nothing tangible has been done to reverse and mitigate the state of Homelessness of this exiled community. Indian state must know any cosmetic approach will lead the community into further peril. The cardinals of safe and dignified return ensuring non refoulement must be adhered to rehabilitate the community in its Homeland.