Kashmiri Pandits

Civil War in India: Are we condemned to such a fate?

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

A tweet video is trending in which a Muslim is caught having just broken an idol of Hanuman and uttering that he did it in the name of the Allah.

We do not where and when it happened. We don’t know the name of the offender. We don’t know what happened to him thereafter.

Five years ago, when Modi had just ensconced himself in Centre, there was a recorded event of a Hanuman idol being attacked in Andheri (W) in Mumbai. As the news spread and devotees began to mass around the temple agitated, the possibility of an ugly turn to events was real.  However police was able to persuade the seething crowd to cool off.

Last year a temple in Howrah in West Bengal was ransacked with portraits of Hindu gods and goddesses thrown in mud. If you click on this link, you would find various attacks on Hindu idols in temples in Pakistan, Bangladesh and even United States.

I am not writing this to contrast the outrage which Lutyens Media had shown three weeks ago when a skullcap of a Muslim was thrown on the ground and police had later contested that the victim might have actually kept the skullcap in his pocket. I am also not trying to whip up an outrage among Hindu majority. And I am certainly not trying to paint millions of Indian Muslims in a corner who I believe are largely peaceful.

My point is larger and the instance I quote is of Lebanon to show how stray incidents, if not checked, snowball into something monstrous.

On April 13, 1975, a few gunmen of a PLO (Palestine Liberation Organiztion) faction barged into the Church of Notre Dame de la Deliverance in East Beirut and opened fire on the VIPs present, killing four people.

It was a religious transgression and it began the civil war in Lebanon which lasted for 15 years (1975-1990).  Around 120,000 people were killed. By 2012, approximately 76,000 people had been displaced within the country. There was also an exodus of over one million people.

It was a flashpoint and sure the genesis of it was building up over the years. At the turn of the century, Lebanon was a Christian-majority country. It was a model nation of liberal values. By 1950s, Lebanon had entered into its golden age. Politically stable, economy booking, excellent tourism, exemplary banks, envied even in Western world and termed as the Swiss of the Middle East.  After Israel, it was the most prosperous country in the Middle East and this too without oil as its backbone.

It began to change when Lebanon opened its border to accept hundreds and thousands of Palestinians during 1948-1967 period, a stretch when Israel became a nation and fought wars with Arab nations. The Muslims’ demography in Lebanon was already booming: Having 10 children in family was a norm. With the influx from across the border, the demographic equation changed, religious battles for turfs became common and Civil War loomed. A flash point was all it needed to wreak havoc.

I am not getting into the debate about the role of demography, about Islam’s ideology of propagation of faith or its resort to violence to achieve its goal. My point is still larger and its’ something which liberal world could either choose to dismiss it as Islamophobia or gird up its lions to deal with it.

We all know that the adherents of Islam are 1.20 billion in the world. That majority of them are peaceful. That only 10-15 percent, or a few millions it is, who cause horror. But this number is enough to bring the liberal world to a staggering halt.

Weren’t Germans by and large peaceful before Adolf Hitler and his ethnic cleansing program dragged them into World War II and caused millions to die? Wasn’t Joseph Stalin a role model of a “reformed” Communism who caused tens of millions to die of starvation and hunger in Soviet Union? Do we need to tell what Mao Zedong did to millions of his men? Do we need a reminder what 19 wood-cutters did to our world by bringing down the towers of World Trade Center?

Would peaceful majority of muslims deny that there are hundreds of Sharia courts in England which were unthinkable a few decades ago and which run parallel to the laws of the land? Would they disagree that there are dozens of areas in France which have been declared “no-go zones” even by the police?

Closer home, weren’t Indian muslims largely peaceful yet the Partition occurred in 1947? In view of historical and present facts, would they revisit their empathy for Rohingya Muslims? Or, to rethink if the so-called state aggression on “innocent” Muslims in Jammu & Kashmir could have a contrary viewpoint? How now do they view the “tukde-tukde” gang? How do they view the growing presence of Islamic State (IS) in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Bengal? Do they have an opinion on Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute?

The crux is peaceful Indian Muslims need to stand up and be counted. At least those who are well-off and not struggling to meet their ends meet. They need to be angry on lynchings and be equally outraged on loses in the Hindu quarters.  They need to find a leadership within which speaks for say, Kashmiri Pandits and condemn terrorism.  The narrative of violent Islam needs a course correction and it must come from within the community. Or they would hand over the future of their own coming generations in the hands of a dreaded few.

As for Hindus, they need be aware of the danger of demography, the limits of secularism and the pitfalls of bookish “liberal” values.  Not for nothing it’s said: Those who refuse to learn from history, are condemned to repeat it.

 

Delimitation: Amit Shah set to make early moves in Kashmir Valley

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Delhi has little control in Kashmir Valley. Out of 87 seats in assembly, 46 are reserved for Kashmir region and 37 for Jammu (Ladakh has the other four seats). No wonder Abdullahs and Muftis, due to their clout in the Valley, control the levers of power in the troublesome state of Jammu & Kashmir.

This of course is historical injustice. Dogras (Jammu) have dominated the region historically. Dogra ruler Maharaja Gulab Singh amassed a state bigger than left behind by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, a Sikh ruler in the 19th century. Till 1941, Hindus in Jammu numbered more than Muslims in Kashmir Valley.

However, Kashmir changed forever once Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah rose to power simultaneously in Delhi and Srinagar. Nehru afforded Abdullah a free run. Abdullah arbitrarily allocated 75 assembly seats in the 1951 state assembly between Kashmir Valley (43), Jammu (30) and Ladakh (2). There was no population data but just his whim to guide Abdullah.

Jammu and Kashmir had changed forever.

Abdullah’s son, Farooq, made it worse. His father had constituted the Delimitation Commission which had further increased Kashmir’s representation to 46 seats, as against 37 to Jammu. Farooq amended the Section 47 of the Jammu & Kashmir constitution in 2002 under which no addition or alteration of constituencies could take place up to 2026.

Game, set and match over.

Fast forward to present times. Modi 2.0 is in place. His party BJP rose to power, among others, on the promise of abrogation of Article 370 and 35A in its manifesto. Nationalism and his tough stance on separatist forces in Jammu & Kashmir, and their masters in Pakistan, reflected in Balakot surgical strike, helped him win the 2019 mandate with a staggering majority.

In people’s mind, Modi’s success or failure in his second tenure would be judged by what he does with Kashmir. The appointment of hard-nosed Amit Shah as home minister is an early signal. If Kashmir is settled, Modi would’ve earned the nation’s gratitude for centuries to come. He would be the favourite child of India’s history.

Modi has made his first move within hours into his second term. Amit Shah is positioned as home minister. Shah too has lost little time: He already has held a detailed closed-door discussion with Satya Pal Malik, governor of Jammu and Kashmir. The state is presently in its second year under the President’s rule. (Legally, President’s rule is tenable for three years at the most).

The rumour is abuzz that delimitation in Jammu & Kashmir could happen soon. Petitions are being written to the President of India. Now that the power of J & K assembly is vested with the President, it’s within his powers to order such a move. A Delimitation Commission could be set up which could redraw the constituencies—and take away the stranglehold which Kashmir Valley has enjoyed over the rest of the state. The freeze till 2026 would go in a jiffy.

This has the separatist forces in the Valley in a flutter. Everyday, Omar Abdullah (NC) and Mehbooba Mufti (PDP) are warning of the consequences if this comes to a pass. Once the freeze is lifted, the ascendency of Jammu is inevitable. It already has more area than Kashmir Valley. It has more people in some constituencies than Valley has in two. (For instance, two constituencies in Srinagar City has nearly 50,000 less electorates than in single constituency of Gandhi Nagar in Jammu region. Same would be the case with Jammu City East seat).

Once this happens, everything would flow from the ballot and not from the bullet. Just imagine the scenarios below:

  • A state under its political control could make BJP do wonders in not just protecting the integrity of the state but also of its soldiers who have died in tens of thousands over the last few decades;
  • Lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits, driven out of Valley by militants, could regain their paradise lost;
  • Lakhs of Gujjars, Bakerwals, Gaddies–around 11 per cent of the state’s population—don’t have any reserve seat in the Valley even though they were given Scheduled Tribe (ST) status way back in 1991. The seven reserved seats for ST—Chamb, Domana, Ranbir Singh Pura, Samba, Hiranagar, Chenani and Ramban in Jammu, Kathua and Udhampur district–are all in Jammu region and have stayed stationery since 1996, never ever rotated to Kashmir Valley).
  • Legislative control in the J & K assembly would make the abrogation of 370 and 35A a child’s play;
  • A secure Kashmir would be such a powerful bulwark against Pakistan and its’ ISI, not to say a leverage which would come handy against China;
  • If terrorists are throttled, Jihadi organizations such as Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda, not to say Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed—and its leaders such as Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar—would be neutralized.
  • Safer borders means lesser martyred soldiers. A buoyant and not a demoralized force. It would also free up India’s security apparatus. Men and money both could be saved.

Modi has the mandate. Shah is in the hot chair of home minister. Millions of Indians are looking for askance: Settle Kashmir once for all. This dispensation has a historic opportunity to undo the damage of appeasement to the Valley which India has practised since the accession of Jammu & Kashmir to the Union of India in 1947.

Why you must question mainstream media

If we were to be asked whether (a) mass media doesn’t speak for common citizens; (c) is not neutral; (c) is corrupt; (d) is caste divisive; (e) is politically controlled; (f) it’s independence is a myth; most of us would say yes.

If we were to be asked if journalists such as Rajdeep Sardesai, Shekhar Gupta, Sagarika Ghose, Barkha Dutt etc are “stars” (a) because of their prose; (b) intellect; (c) knowledge or; (d) impartiality, most of us would say no.

Yet, we follow media and the “star” hacks like the lemmings which jump off the cliff. We don’t question (a) why our daily public issues are not important to English media; (b) why a clinicially/morally/intellectually “dead” Congress is being kept alive by bigger and still bigger coverage on front pages; (c) Why Communists with just 11 MPs have a bigger discourse on edit pages; (d) why a Hindu life or an issue concerning Hindu majority never makes it to front pages; (e) why animal rights issue of Jallikattu doesn’t extend to Bakrid; (f) Why an apparent “feminist” Swara Bhaskar would keep mum on Triple Talaq; (g) who foreign refugees Rohingyas are important and refugees-in-own-land Kashmiri Pandits are not; (h) why political killings in Bengal and Kerala are never front-page news; (i) why the Kashmir narrative is always against Indian state and its army despite the unspeakable loss of lives of its brave men and women.

We don’t seem to question why anti-BJP voices such as a Ramachandra Guha or Pavan Varma or Christophe Jaffrelot have edit pages reserved for them while right-wing intellectual giants such as Rajiv Malhotra and Dr. Koenraad Elst are always ignored. Why third-rate journalists such as Saba Naqvi and Kumar Ketkar are presences in our living rooms while a Madhu Kishwar or Makrand Paranjape are rarely sought.

We don’t seem to question why the mass media is like the way it is. (a) What could be its motive in being so overtly hostile to Hindu opinion and its causes; (b) is their funding legitimate or an enterprise of left-liberal mafia; (c) Or the “support” in form of funds and grants is a modus operandi of say, a CIA or a Ford Foundation.

We don’t seem to question what could be the unyielding goal of Left-Liberals and imperialist forces in trying to break-up India? Why there is such a ruthless agenda to ensure nothing good is mentioned of Hindu culture and heritage? Why there is a missionary zeal to ensure that Hindus only remember their past with a sense of guilt and inferiority complex?

Social media is bringing about a balance to this false narrative of mainstream media. OpIndia.com and Swarajya Mag have been phenomenal is presenting a counter viewpoint. My endeavour in NewsBred has an avowed aim of exposing media lies. Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have held mirror to mainstream media and its monstrous profile.

But more vigour—and certainly more vigilance—is required from all of India’s citizens. We need more counter-narratives than just a handful. We need mass dissemination of this antidote to mainstream media. Only when most grow wise to presstitutes, would they be aware of dangers imbedded within our socio-polity fabric. And our children could expect a better, safer future.

So never drop guard; never be lazy on what’s good for you, your children and your country. Question the prevalent narrative and you would be closer to truth.

And you would’ve passed on a better India to your next generation.