Yesterday was 14th September. If you are a Hindu from Kashmir, like, me, your social media, personal messages must have been flooded by messages of pain, gore, blood with a hashtag #BalidanDiwas #Justice4KashmiriPandits or some such. People receive these messages and are reminded that today is the Martyrdom Day of Kashmiri Pandits.
There are ofcourse associated messages inviting you to a commemoration event by community organisations and you hear people speaking passionately about the sacrifices made by the Hindus in Kashmir; having paid the price of being a Hindu and a patriotic Indian.
On 14 September 1989, Tika Lal Taploo, who was a lawyer and a BJP member, was cremated after being murdered by the JKLF in his home in Srinagar. Soon after Taploo’s death, Nilkanth Ganjoo, a Srinagar District Sessions Judge was shot dead. Ganjoo had sentenced Maqbul Bhat, a Kashmiri separatist and founder of the separatist organisation National Liberation Front. Maqbul Bhat was hanged on 11 February 1984 in Tihar Jail in New Delhi.
The daughter of then Union Minister, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed was kidnapped in December 1989; her return reliant on the release of five terrorists – that was ultimately fulfilled. Subsequently, in January 1990, a Srinagar (Kashmir) based gazette Aftab published a message demanding that all Hindus left the valley. Not only Aftab, there were others too and eventually walls in the valley of Kashmir were plastered with diktats commanding everyone to follow Islamic rules or else face severe consequences. At the behest of slogans shouted from mosques, Hindus or Kafirs were asked to ‘die, convert or leave’
A community stalwart, a politician from the present day ruling party in India was murdered for being a Hindu and a series of targeted revenge killings began that led to the forced exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits from their homes in Kashmir valley. The date therefore has a very poignant significance for anyone who says they feel the pain of a persecuted minority community particularly those claiming to highlight this pain.
The loss of a political activist like Tika Lal Taploo, whose farewell saw stalwarts of the political party, community and members of public in the thousands must be such a tragedy that each year would make his peers and party members remember him, with messages of tribute flooding social media?
Far away from Srinagar or Delhi, thousands of miles away in a small London constituency, a Member of Parliament, Bob Blackman tabled an Early Day Motion in the UK Parliament commemorating the Balidan Diwas and urging the Government of India to legislate Genocide Crime Punishment law, in adherence of India’s international obligation to punish genocidal crimes committed on its own citizens.
Gratefully, I shared the text of the Early Day Motion on social media with a few and very soon, saw the entire social media flooded with messages of gratitude and recognition of ‘Greatest Friend of India’, Bob Bhai and Bobe ji (in Kashmiri). Anything that happens in UK Parliament particularly in reference to Kashmir immediately tends to make headlines in India. Supported and co-signed by two other Members of Parliament, Virendra Sharma and Jim Shannon, the EDM No 881 is a message of reassurance to the Kashmiri Pandits that someone somewhere has cared to notice!
For those wondering what the EDM 881 has achieved, it is useful to tell them that firstly, it makes available the acknowledgement of the Hindu Genocide in Kashmir on Parliament website and registers it formally to stay in Hansard official records. Secondly, it gives people the ability, a reference note, to write to their local Members of Parliament to sign and support this motion, demonstrating their concern for their constituents and human rights issues that matter to their constituents.
I wondered if something like this were done in Indian Parliament, where one would assume the Motion should have been passed naturally? Afterall it was a BJP politician whose tragic death anniversary it was and something that unfolded a bigger tragedy, that the current government’s senior politicians including the Home Minister have acknowledged. Previous governments remained quiet and to this date have barely even mentioned the tragedy that befell Kashmiri Pandits.
None but one senior member of the BJP, NItin Gadkari spoke about it in what seemed a private message sent to the Kashmiri Pandits.
The Indian Parliamentary session began on 14 September so all Members of Parliament were in the House on this momentous day. Not even one statement was made or Motion tabled in Parliament.
On 11th September 2014, was the historic moral victory of Kashmiri Pandits in UK Parliament. This was owing to the strong rebuttals and arguments delivered by MPs opposing propagandist narrative in the UK Parliament on Kashmir. This was perhaps the first and the only time such a strong rebuttal was offered and the debate won in support of the Kashmiri Pandits. I had a small role to play in this victory, having briefed bipartisan Members of Parliament including the proposer of this debate. This became headline news in India.
Earlier today, I noticed that there was news of India beating China in winning what is deemed a ‘crucial’ election to UN Commission on Women. Earlier this year, I had noted India’s re-election to the Non Permanent Seat of the UN Security Council (not the first time!) was big headline news. One of the most important commitments that India is duty bound to fulfill is the creation of a Genocidal Crime Punishment Law in its obligation to international convention to which India was an early proposer and signatory. To this date there is no Genocide Crime Punishment law in the country.
As a British citizen, I am pleased to place on record that UK too was a signatory and has in place a Genocide Crime Punishment law. As an ethnic Indian, I find it odd when Britain tries to interfere in internal matters of India but on this occasion a ‘White’ man, named, Blackman had to pass a Parliamentary motion to remind the Indian legislators of their own international legal commitment?
I do hope some of the legislators reading this, take it upon themselves and table the Genocide Crime Punishment and Atrocities Prevention Bill on the floor of Parliament in India. Genocide Crime Punishment and Atrocities Prevention Bill drafted by the Panun Kashmir team.
They don’t even need to wait for Parliament to be in session; it already is in business and I am sure there are Members of Parliament, sympathetic and concerned over the safety of persecuted minorities who will make sure this is tabled to be passed as law. And this isn’t even outside the scope of their Legislative duties.
Private video messages and statements at rallies are great but they don’t deliver governance. The first and foremost duty of a Government is Governance and Law Making, to protect its citizens. For 70 years, the victims of the tragic partition and then for 30 years, Kashmiri Pandits have been waiting for a mechanism that recognises the genocide inflicted on them. In absence of such a law, each death is treated as a murder and not viewed as a planned persecution.
My legal friends do tell me that there are lacuna and grey areas but this is just a deep dark black hole! I hope someone is listening? The sacrifice of their own party member can not be a fading memory.
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