Homeland Security

Kishtwar Riots: The Beginning of Ethnic Cleansing?
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 26 Sep , 2013

In just three weeks the Kishtwar riots have entered the penumbra of media attention. Before they fade from memory, certain points need to be made.  These riots are a vivid reminder of expulsion of nearly four lac Pandits from the Valley. Resemblance is uncanny.  The same Hurriyat leaders who had engineered the expulsion of Pandits from the Valley have been behind inciting the Kishtwar riots.

The Hurriyat has cleverly kept a few Hindus and Sikhs for window dressing to give their ‘freedom struggle’ a façade of secularism. These minorities are intended to be kept safe only till the ‘freedom’ is attained…

There were two prominent players involved in cleansing out Pandits from the Kashmir Valley. Syed Ali Shah Geelani was the Amir of Jamait-e-Islami which controlled the network of mosques in Srinagar. It was these mosques that broadcast the message 24 hours a day to terrorize the Pandits. The message as translated from Kashmiri was: “We do not want Pandits in Kashmir. We just want their women.”  Its ominous import was unmistakable. Little wonder that Pandit families with young women were the first ones to run away.  The other leader was Muhammad Yasin Malik who led his then underground group JKLF in carrying out selective target killing of prominent Pandits. This added to the terrorization and accelerated the exodus. The Hurriyat has cleverly kept a few Hindus and Sikhs for window dressing to give their ‘freedom struggle’ a façade of secularism. These minorities are intended to be kept safe only till the ‘freedom’ is attained and then they along with the Shia Muslims will meet the same fate as the Pandits.  Kashmir Valley is envisaged to become a 100% Sunni fundamentalist State, another North Waziristan, whenever it suits Pakistan or its acolyte, the Hurriyat leaders.

The fact that the Hindus of erstwhile Doda District which includes Kishtwar did not meet the same fate is thanks only to one factor, the Village Defence Committees (VDC) that the threatened hamlets and villages formed.   These were then armed and played a major role in preventing the exodus of Hinds from that district as also in keeping the Jammu province safe. No security force can provide protection to every family in isolated villages.  VDCs did a commendable job in that role. They not only secured their villages, but also kept the ‘freedom struggle’ away from the Jammu province. That essentially kept the insurgency confined to the Kashmir Valley, despite Pakistan’s best efforts.  Consequently, the VDC were the favourite target of the terrorists and their overground supporters and they lost many lives. Under pressure from what India calls separatists but essentially Pakistani agents, the politicians of the Valley have never been very sympathetic to the VDCs. Mufti Muhammad Saeed of PDP had in fact tried to disband them when he became the Chief Minister. .

Now the Hurriyat which had no presence south of the Valley, has made disbandment of VDCs a major issue in order, as it says, to remove the sense of insecurity among the Muslims of the area. That demand is obviously inspired by Pakistan whose every action since the beginning of this year points towards the revival of the ‘freedom Straggle’. The recent riots in Kishtwar have provided them a pretext to rake up the issue though no VDC had taken part in them. Being located in villages, VDCs were not even present in Kishtwar town. There was only one death by gunfire and the victim was one Arvind Kumar. Yet, the finger pointing at VDCs continues.

Once a terrorized population abandons their homes, their return is impossible, just as it happened in the case of Pandits.

Though the VDCs are the responsibility of the State Govt, the Army has a vital stake in them. No Army can provide protection to every house and hamlet in the sparsely populated mountainous region. Nor can the Army block all the routes of ingress through Pir Panjal into Jammu province and that province will become vulnerable. Pir Panjal range also has major infiltration routes from Pakistan.

If the VDCs are disarmed or their capabilities degraded in way,  the entire mountain population of Jammu province will be at grave risk. They may have no choice but to escape to the suburbs of Jammu like Pandits did. That would add to the problem, that Pakistan deliberately tries to create by targeting the civil population along the LoC and even the international border. Once a terrorized population abandons their homes, their return is impossible, just as it happened in the case of Pandits. All the talk of rehabilitating them back in their ancestral homes in the Valley is either naïve or dishonest.  The facts on the ground once created can seldom be changed. No debates in Parliament and long speeches in New Delhi will be able to undo the migration. Saving Kishtwar means saving Jammu province and saving Jammu province means saving India. And the VDCs are the key to doing so.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Lt Gen Raj Kadyan

Lt Gen Raj Kadyan (Retd), former Deputy Chief of Army Staff

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10 thoughts on “Kishtwar Riots: The Beginning of Ethnic Cleansing?

  1. i read all comments about Kashmir in all websites , i know this is defense review website , before years ago i am belonging Hindu religious now after converting to Islam , every time my father said ” my birth date 1985 , jab mein 7 saal ka hova mera baap hamesha se yahi kehta hain ke apny hamsaya (neighbours) ke respect kar , auratoun ke respect, jab kabi kisi aurat ka sar pe dupata nehi hoga tu apny nazar nichy karna , aur jab kabi kisy ko parashanye (difcult) hogye tu usky madad karna farza hain jahye ( wo muslim ho ya Non Muslim ho).

    Aur jab 2008 hova hamar alqa gojwara mein curfew 6 month tak continue raha , aur mera baap hamesha muje yahe kehta tha beta agar outside state ka hoga tu usko bolna ke kisijeez ke kami hogy tu bolana. Aur Mein har din Gar se Jawal , Ata liyta tha Aur Barbarshah jata tha wanha Par kuch Non-Muslim Kaam karney kye lye kashmir atye theh unko Hum ney 3 month tak Sab Kuch diya aur kihlaya.

    aur yehi nehi kashmir mein jab 2008 and 2010 howa to yatries ko hum ney kahna deya yehi nehi jis ko jo zaroorat hoti hain usko dytey they . We are kashmiri that protect tourist in srinagar when flood 2013 i zaffer raina and my friends from nowhatta and gojwara , we are continue in rescue near 20 days , i pick lot of tourist and place at islamia school downtown / various place in downtown people’s of downtown has importnat role that provide the food and shelter for tourist continue till normal position

    Magar Jab Tak meri jaan mein Jaan hain tab tak logye ky madad kareingye :

    Aur aaj tak ye hamara record raha ki hamery yanha kisi tourist takleef nahi hova
    ye aap be janty hain aur india key loog jo wanha par aye aur realtity dehkye

  2. It is high time that the people of India demand of their leaders in Delhi to put an end to the cancer of terrorism in Kashmir. Pakistan is the instigator and vast population of Kashmiri muslims haven fallen for the propaganda. India can no longer tolerate insurgency within its borders to benefit its enemy. Kashmir is a national security matter with threats growing everyday. Article 370 is a cover for the terrorist in Kashmir to operate freely while aiding the enemy. The first priority for the nation is to vote out of office the entire UPA Congress in the next general election. This party is singularly responsible for weakening India’s hand in dealing with the anti-nationals, Pakistani sympathizers, and opportunists who wish to overthrow democratically elected government. The government must reinforce the Northern borders with military and defense preparedness. If necessary to declare Kashmir as a garrison state in a state of war and curb the fifth columnists with a martial law. Article 370 must be declared unconstitutional by the parliament so that the state can be fully integrated into the Union. If separatist wish to join Pakistan they are to be given one way ticket same as when the partition took place people were allowed on both sides to leave. In any case, India needs new leadership that has the courage and backbone to stand up to the rising threats from Pakistan and China.

  3. What people fathom to be a ‘Sunni Fundamentalist’ state when Islam was conceived as statehood, and practiced, was a state, where people lived. Apparently, because the Muslim feels threatened, he can see differences of opinion, but the non-Muslim had the option, a very unusual option not to be a member of the armed defense of the state, and to not be the enemy of the enemy, in a war, in a Muslim state. The great thing is, in Pakistan, there is a Sikh soldier in the army, and this was seen by the subcontinent.

  4. 1. CONSIDER : EGYPTIANS, Assyrians, Sumerians, Mesopotamian; PERSIANS were Powerful & GREAT Nations

    in HISTORY- BEFORE allah was invented, not delusions- BUT FACTS. .

    2. Are these NATIONS great or powerful NOW, AFTER allah’s arrival ? ? OR do they STILL, hold on to the

    APRON STRINGS of equally STUPID mentors.

    You ALL have to DECIDE.


    *****PARADISE LOST*****


  5. Very aptly analyzed. However, the GOI lacks determination in solving the Kashmir issue for political considerations irrespective of which party is in power at Delhi. We are always defensive as far as Pakistan is concerned as the only issue is getting the POK back. We silently bear the brunt of soldiers’ killings. To solve all these problems, the first thing is to abolish Article 370, silence the separatists with determination and offer free land to ex-service men in J&K for settlement specially border areas.

  6. Dear Sir, I hope you would not be labelled as a Communal, or IDR is banned for publishing this article. It really can happen only in India. Yet we are not discussing Article 370.In POK apart from Pakis, Chinese are also settling and in J&K we can not imagine settling of mainland Muslims there! We need one land one law.I m thankful to German Ambassador for Zubin Mehta concert at Sri Nagar. I hope Pakis will get the message. All the best Zubin, long live Germany.

  7. For Government of India rehabilitation of Pandits to their ancestral home in the valley or taking steps to curb ethnic cleansing from Doda will be non-secular. That is how Syed Ali Shah Gilani and his acolytes are facilitated.
    Is’nt the time really running out?

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