#HumanRightsDay: Meet the real victims of grave Human Rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir
Whenever Human Rights violations in India are discussed on national and international platforms, our media and pseudo-intellectuals project stone pelters and terrorists as victims, sweeping the burning issues concerning grave Human Rights violations under the carptet. Today, December 10 is observed as Human Rights Day, which marks the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. India is also observing this day with due importance, urging its people to uphold, protect and promote human rights.
On this occasion, a pertinent question which needs introspection is: Who are the real victims who fell prey to gross Human Rights violation and persecution, being a minority in the region? Owing to multiple reasons, whether it is insertion of unconstitutional provision (i.e. 35A) or the willful ignorance of successive regimes, the national and international media and human rights organisations, the real victims have always been kept out of the public eye. Their plight has been neglected to such an extent that neither academic discourses nor the champions of Human Rights bothered to mention about them.
The native people, who having been fighting in vain for their basic Human Rights for the last many decades, are the real victims in the Jammu and Kashmir. They have either been persecuted by Pakistani mercenaries or terrorists or successive regimes. They can be categorised into three viz. Victims of Article 35A, Victims displaced from PoJK and Victims of Terrorism:
1. Victims of Article 35A
Article 35A was inserted in the constitution of India, through a presidential order in 1954, without the recognition of the Parliament. By adding this provision in the Constitution, the president violated Article 368 of the Constitution that gives power only to the parliament to add or delete any provision from the Constitution. He also violated Article 60 of the Constitution that binds the president of the country to protect, preserve and defend the Constitution of the country. This unconstitutional provision has sanctioned the practice of institutionalised discrimination against the spirit of the Constitution of India. There are four major categories of victims of this provision and these victims are:
Women: They constitute 47% of the entire population of the state. The state of J&K used to issue the Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) to them that was valid upto marriage to ensure that they marry the permanent resident of J&K otherwise their PRC would be repealed automatically and consequently she loses the rights and privileges of a PRC. But in 2002 the Jammu and Kashmir High Court annulled this provision and now women can retain their PRC even after marrying a non-state PRC holder. Now, only the female can remain a PRC holder even if she marries a non-permanent resident of the state but her children and spouse could not get the PRC. Thereby, the children of such married couple are considered illegitimate. On the other hand the males could have all these rights and their marriage to a non-state PRC holder is acceptable and their spouse and children will automatically get the PRC. Clearly, this provision is against the notion of gender justice and violates the basic structure of the constitution of India.
Valmikis (Dalits): They are the people, who were brought from Punjab in 1957, when the state was going through a tough time, as the Safai Karamcharis (sweepers) of the state went on indefinite strike. The then state government assured these people that the PRC would be relaxed for them. But it was a hollow promise, as the PRC clause relaxed for them to the extent that they and their later generation can remain eligible only to the post of Safai Karamchari irrespective of their education and qualification. They cannot get admission in government schools and higher education institution, avail scholarships and any other facilities of the government, vote in state, district and village level elections, government job and social welfare benefits. The caste based discrimination was institutionalized in J&K in clear contravention of the provisions of constitution of India.
Gorkhas: They are approximately 1 lakh in number and settled in J&K some 200 years ago. The Gorkhas of Jammu and Kashmir served in the rank of the army of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh and then Maharaja Gulab Singh. They have played vital role in securing the borders of the state. They made supreme sacrifices for securing the state but they are not given the PRC, as a result they are not entitled for admission in government schools and higher education institution, avail scholarships and any other facilities of the government, vote in state, district and village level elections, government job and social welfare benefits. Now, they are left with only option to either sell momos or to resort to illegal activities.
West Pakistan Refugees: They migrated from West Pakistan into the state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1947 but still they are forced to live in camps and carry the tag of ‘Refugee’. Around 5,764 families consisting of 47,215 persons migrated from West Pakistan to different areas of Jammu Division. Till date, PRC is not given to them and their condition is worst than their counterparts, who have migrated to other states of India. The title of the land is not given to them and they can become tillers, labourers, tenants but not land-owners. They cannot cast their votes in state and local level elections, get jobs in any of the State run department and without education the future of their children is also not secure. A major chuck of these people belongs to OBC and SC categories.
2 .Victims displaced from PoJK
Displaced in 1947: Lakhs of Hindus and Sikhs were killed in the Pakistan Army attack in 1947. People in Muzaffarabad, Kotli, Bhimber, Deva Batala, Gilgit, Baltistan, Mirpur, Poonch and Rajouri ran to save their lives. Around 20 thousand people were killed in one night and many got displaced during the bloodbath. They were approximately 12 lakh in numbers out of which some 10 lakh came to Jammu alone and the rest were spread across India. Surprisingly, some strange conditions like the migration of the head of the family along with the families, earning of less than Rs 300/- and taking refuge in the camp etc. were imposed on them to be eligible for government aid. Rs 3500/- each family was allocated for them but the state government did not pass the entire money, and in most of the cases around Rs 1000/- was distributed to each of the families. There were certain cases where no compensation was given at all. Out of the total number of 31,619 families registered with the J&K Govt., 5,300 thousand migrated to other states of India, therefore, they are not compensated for their loses and they are not even PRC holders now because they could not get their documents along with them when Pakistan Army was functioning like a killing machine and they had to run to save their life. They are now not eligible to purchase land in Jammu and Kashmir because they could not carry their State Subject Certificate while fleeing for life in November 1947 from areas now under the illegal occupation of Pakistan. Adding to their agony, POJK displaced have not been compensated fully for their loses because the Government of India is giving assurance to them that they would be send back to their homes once the GoI got the areas vacated from Pakistan. The GoI said that their demands for compensation cannot be accommodated because the GoI will lose its claim on POJK but for the last 70 seventy years nothing has been done for them. As no economic and social support, regular relief, subsidies on loans/investments, tax concessions etc. extended to them, uncertainty remained about their future. In present circumstances their returning back to POJK is bleak. Jammu and Kashmir has a total number of 111 assembly seats out which 24 seats are in the POJK and the election are contested only on the remaining 87 seats. Around 1/3 of POJK displaced person are living in Jammu alone, therefore, it was suggested to the government that 8 seats must be reserved for these people but the government is indifferent to their demands. The Wadhwa Committee Report 2007, Interlocutors Report 2009 and Parliament Standing Report 2014 are not implemented in their case. The Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act, 1954 and the Administration of Evacuee Property Act, 1950 are not applicable to the State of Jammu and Kashmir and on the POJK 1947 DPs.
Chhamb Displaced: Chhamb clearly depicted the intention of the GoI with regard to taking back the areas from Pakistan because this area was returned by Indian Government to Pakistan. GoI gave 39000 acres of land back to Pakistan by displacing 4600 families, comprising of 18000 persons, which are yet to be rehabilitated. PoJK (Chhamb) Refugees were displaced three times, i.e. in 1947, 1965 and 1971 as Chhamb was attacked three times because Chhamb was the first post on the way from Pakistan’s border. The persons who were displaced three times were not given any special package, and as a result, they are compelled to dwell on the border areas of LoC. Their children are illiterate because of the absence of access to town and cities and avenues to get the education.
3. Victims of Terrorism:
Kashmiri Pandits: During the 1990s the genocide of the Kashmiri Pandit happened. Hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits lost their lives. Before killing KP, they were subjected to brutality. Their body dismembered and incidents, like gouging out eyes, multiple fractures, skinning of KP took place. Even before and after the 1990s the killings of Kashmiri Pandits continued in different parts of the state. Till today, the KPs are not welcomed in the valley.
Others: The terrorists killed Army personnel, police personnel and the innocent Kashmiri and even Muslims are not spared. A Business Standard report stated that more than 70,000 terror incidents have been reported in Jammu Kashmir in the last 28 years ending 2017, in which 22,143 terrorists were killed and 13,976 civilians and 5,123 soldiers lost their lives.
It is essential that these victims must be recognised and their human rights must be restored. The political parties must take a leaf from the Human Right Day and endeavour to take concrete steps to restore the Fundamental Rights of the native Jammu and Kashmir population.