Between the largest Democracy and Terrorist state: An anecdote of the displaced persons of POJK and violation of their human rights

09 Dec 2017 14:13:17


PANKAJ GUPTA

What is more ironic than being uprooted from one’s roots and finding no place in one’s own country? More than ironic, it is the blatant form of despotism keeping some away from one’s home not by choice but force. All the more painful is that the established government seems helpless when its hapless citizens are looking upon it with one hope that it would save them from the onslaught of diabolic victimisers. This must have been the state of people from Pakistan Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (POJK) when they were forced to run away from their place of abode, in the year 1947, to save their lives. These are now identified as the Displaced Persons (DPs) of POJK, who numbers are yet to be ascertained completely. The affected areas of J&K were Bhimber, Mir Pur, Kotli, Muzaffarabad, Deva Batala, Gilgit, Baltistan, and parts of Poonch fell to Pakistan and they are now collectively called the POJK. The people dwelling in these areas had to run away from their homes for their lives. It was the gruesome murder of those innocent people, who could not run away. Thousands of men and children were killed whereas females were raped in this onslaught. As per the eyewitness, in Mirpur itself, out of the total population of 25,000, 18,000 people were brutally killed and 3500 were seriously injured in the carnage of three days i.e. 25, 26 and 27 November, 1947. According to some estimates 70-80% of population was brutally murdered by the Pakistani assassinators in uniform. The brutal killings was planned by the Pakistani Army Headquarters and the operation was named “Operation Gulmarg”. It was matter of concern that Indian Government did not take the stock of the situation though repeated information in this regard was supplied to it by the Government of J&K. The economic blockade was imposed on the state of J&K, preceded to the brutal onslaught on the innocent people of this part of the state, to put pressure on the Government of the state to accede to Pakistan but it never happened. Though the J&K Government made every effort to persuade Pakistan to honour the standstill agreement but it failed to dissuade the prowling demons in the form of Pakistan army and the raiders supported by it. The matter was taken with the government of UK but it also did not do anything to save these hapless people. The entire preparation was made in Abbattabad with Pakistani army men alongwith 5000 tribals waged the war against the people of  J&K led by Maj Gen Akbar Khan of the Pakistan Army who was given the name of “Gen Tariq”. Though the Pakistani forces were on the move of occupying Srinagar as well yet this plan was foiled due to the timely stationing of air borne Indian soldiers. But the bloodbath continued in collusion with the local Muslim population, who sided with the Pakistani invaders, in POJK. The Maharaja of J&K gave the full account of his helplessness as he was unable to do much to save his people from the clutches of the bloodthirsty invaders of Pakistani army, who were in plain clothes. The state was attacked by the Pakistan in October/November 1947. Now, these DPs are settled across India in places like Dehradun, Bajpur, Patiyala, Indore, Haldwani, Delhi etc. The onslaught on these people was perpetuated by the Pakistani army, who infiltrated in J&K and managed to usurped the major portion of it. Unfortunately, the lethargy of the then government of India  made it easy for these victimisers to do that. Sheikh Abdullah, the then Prime Minister of the state of J&K, was concerned for the people of  POJK. He wanted that the illegal occupation on the portion of the land of J&K shall be removed yet nothing substantial was done by the then Indian government. Government of India (GoI) failed  to ensure the safety and security of the life of the people residing in this portion of J&K. The people became helpless against the armed aggressors, as they were left to save themselves on their own. So, they were left with only option to run for their lives. Those who could manage to flee, they camp off and, those who could not, they became the prey of bloodthirsty demons. Adding to the misery of these people, they are yet to be compensated for what they have lost because the Government of India (GoI) given assurance to them that one day it will regain the lost areas of J&K. On flimsy technical ground it was mentioned that India will lose its claim on POJK if the compensation is given to these people at par with the refugees. Since, most of these hapless people are Hindus and Sikhs so our central government easily left them to fend for themselves because Indian democracy is all about minority and majority is not supposed to claim their rights though it is different thing that Sikhs are also in minority in India.

Genesis of the Problem

The genesis of the trouble can be traced back to the standstill agreement that was sent to India and Pakistan by the Maharaja of J&K at the time of India’s independence. It is a well-known fact that the identical standstill agreements were sent to both India and Pakistan, which was accepted by later whereas the former asked the Maharaja to send his representative to discuss about it. The standstill agreement was the instrument that was used by the independent states, immediately after independence, for maintaining the status-quo for sometime. But this offer sent shock waves to Pakistan who broke standstill agreement and invaded J&K. Following which the Maharaja offered the instrument of accession in favour of India and sought its help in saving the people of his Kingdom. Though help was extended to J&K but few areas of the state were already fell to the Pakistani invaders. Also, the central leadership of India did not make much efforts to regain the areas which fell to Pakistan before J&K acceded to India. On the contrary some more, areas were occupied by Pakistan illegally because the Indian side did not do much to save them after accession. The majority of the affected people in this genocide were Hindus and Sikhs. These people requested the then PM of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, in November, 1947, for help but nothing concrete was done for them. It is important to mention here that unlike the people migrated from Pakistan to India and vice-versa, who came because of two nation theory, these people were forced to leave their place of abode because of the bloodbath perpetuated by Pakistani raiders.

 

Sheikh Abdullah’s Role

Understanding the plight of POJK Displaced Persons (DPs), Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, the then Prime Minister of J&K, in its order vide No. 1476-C of 1950 dated 16.12.1950 issued under his own signatures called them Displaced Persons from Pakistan Occupied Areas of J&K ( POJK DPs). The people who went to Pakistan (West Punjab) on their own were termed as migrants in the same order. These people who left POJK because of the onslaught committed on them by Pakistani army are the Permanent Residents of J&K as per Section-6 of J&K Constitution. But unfortunately, these people were not given compensation for their loss of property and life at par with the refugees of 1947.

The Central Government stand on it

It was opined by the then central government that admitting their compensation like refugees would result in losing the claim of GoI on the POJK. Therefore, all these years the central government was assuring these people that one day the POJK will be liberated from Pakistan. But nothing of that sort has happened till date and the fate of these people is hanging in limbo.

Present Status

Since 1950s many of the DPs and the individuals and the organisations working for them have been requesting the Government to register the particulars of their properties but nothing has been done in this regard. No formal regular registration of DPs has been done so far. Since their displacement, these people are running from pillar to post and from one minister to another yet nothing has been done for them.

Efforts made so far

A petition was moved by Bachan Singh Panchi, President Jammu Kashmir Sharnarthi Action Committee and six others on 26 December 1978, in Rajya Sabha, requesting to resolve the problems of POJK displaced persons. Based on this request sixty second report of the Committee on Petition of Rajya Sabha was prepared on 11.04.1980. The Committee was headed by Bipinpal Das (MP), who presented the report in Rajya Sabha on 13.06.1980. Consequently, Rajya Sabha acknowledge the unjust treatment to the POJK DPs but their material claims were not discussed at all. The Bachan Singh Panchi also met PM Smt. Indira Gandhi in 1975 but nothing was done. On 22nd February 1994 GoI passed a resolution in Parliament of India for liberation of  PoJK  Pakistan. Further, the representative of these people met to the then PM Dr. Manmohan Singh in August 2005 in Parliament House Complex, Delhi yet nothing is done. They have been demanding to constitute an Apex Committee to look into the plight of these people but nothing has been done. A charter of demands was also given by these people so that some concrete decisions are taken for them but nothing has happened so far. The property of theirs should have been freed from the clutches of Pakistan but till date nothing has been done that would help these people to return back to their homes. On the contrary, they are left to live their lives in the hope of justice, which seems difficult to be delivered.  J&K Sharnarthi Action Committee mentioned that the plight of the J&K DPs is incomparable with any other victim of two nation theory, as technically they are the residents of J&K yet actually they are unable to abode in their homes. The central government was not very much active to clear off the land from intruders. So, these people are forced to live the life of refugees in their own country yet they are not given the benefits equivalent to any other refugees. The GoI wanted to find a middle way so that the country does not lose its claims on POJK and also the DPs are benefitted but neither the POJK was liberated nor any strong midway was found to ameliorate the sufferings of these hapless people. The chances of these people to get back to their homes are bleak, as nothing substantial has been done by the Indian government. It is important to mention here that the GoI fought the war with Pakistan to create another country called Bangladesh but nothing of that sort has been done for the its own people of POJK. Though I am not comparing the two situations, as the problem of POJK DPs is more grave than the problem of Bangladesh because these (DPs) are the people who have been living the life of a refugee in their own country. The 1980 report of  Bipin Sen mentioned that the J&K state government said the number of such person were 31696, which was arrived at on the basis of the number of applications received by J&K government. But surprisingly no official registration was done either by the state government or central government that raises a doubt on these figures. Ironically, the land regained by India in two wars, 1965 and 1971, was again given back to Pakistan, which creates a serious doubt on the intention of the then government.

 

Conclusion

Human rights in the rest of India has been mostly discussed in the context of caste, gender and religion, wherein the so called upper caste is not covered. But the context of J&K is quite different, wherein only religion has dominant manifestation in the context of human rights. As a result, the mainstream media and political class busy raising the issues of Kashmir limited to a few pockets, where separatist leaders active, though the really affected people have not been mentioned by them. The problem of POJK is unique as more than regional issue, it is a humanitarian issue that requires different sort of approach, even if their grievances are not dealt at par with any other refugees in this country. People are considerate for Rohingya Muslims but not for POJK DPs because of our obvious understanding or teaching that does not find mention of these people. Religious lines are made so strong in our country that even speaking on humanitarian issues of Hindus would definitely attract the label of “Sangi”. Though general category people are not considered vulnerable or victims but here SCs, OBCs, women and children are also victims yet nothing has been spoken about their plight. Their human rights were easily violated but nothing has been done by national and international organisations in this regard. The perpetrators committed the crime with impunity. I don’t understand whether it is a crime to follow one’s religion though Indian constitution does not favour any religion theoretically, and perhaps practically as well. Speaking for one religion makes you communal and for other secular. It is disheartening to see that humanity has become immaterial and our society remains selective in its approach to secularism. I really feel regretful to live in a country wherein the humanity has been looked through the spectacles of religion or caste or gender or political ideology. The politics of territory snatched everything from them and nothing has come to their rescue and respite in the largest democracy called India and terrorist across boarder had the last laugh. I hope that our country will not turn into a terrorist state like Pakistan and the justice will be delivered to the POJK DPs.  I also wish that instead of making a bleak hope, it is better that the government shall do something concrete for them because

They are the citizens of this country! They are the human beings! They do have human rights! They do have the right to live a dignified life!

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