Monday, December 10, 2018

Jagannath Sathu on Plight of Pandits, 1952

KP farmer women.
1895

Jagannath Sathu was a radical humanist inspired by thoughts of M.N. Roy. He organized Kissan Mazdoor Conference and later was vice-president of KDU (Kashmir Democratic Union), the first Pro-Pakistan political party of the state. Along with Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz he was one of the few Pandits who challenged Sheikh Abdullah reign by backing Pakistan. In 1950s, he was exiled to Delhi along with Bazaz by Sheikh. He was also one of the first Kashmiri to be rounded by police on terror charges in Delhi. He was devotedly anti-communist (his piece on "Red-Menace" is rather famous in academic circles) since communists kept changing the horse they were backing in the conflict. 

Here's an extract from 1952 pamphlet published by Sathu on "Plight of Minorities" in Kashmir, about the pandits he writes:
Pandits Suppressed Everywhere

Kashmiri Pandits are as a community an intellectual class in the State. For centuries, may be thousands of years, they have led the Kashmiri masses in education and culture. By dint of their efficiency, faithfullness and diligence they have manned the administrative machinery of the State under the successive rules of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Mughals, Pathans, Sikhs and Dogras. But now for the first time under the secularism of the Kashmir nationalists, they were told that these qualities were of no use or value and it was the brute majority of the numbers that counted. Therefore not only were State Services refused to Kashmiri Pandits even when they were better qualified for these than the Muslims related to or acquainted with the nationalist leaders who were appointed; the Pandits already in Service were also superseded by their subordinates far junior to them in class and grade and inferior to them in academic qualifications. It becomes very poignant for a Pandit official to wok under an inefficient, less qualified, uninformed and inexperienced subordinate who promoted to a responsible job inly because he is muslim favoured by the nationalists. In many cases employees twenty or thirty steps junior have been pushed to the top.
Thus jobbery and favouritism is not confined to the sphere of Government services. It is applied everywhere. Government contracts in P.W.D., Forest, Panchayat, Revenue and other departments are also given to their own men by the nationalists. Relatives and friends of Ministers get the lion's share. The dealers appointed by the Government to sell rationed goods are the favourites of the ruling clique. This also adversely affected the economic condition of the Kashmiri Pandits.
The agrarian reforms and the way they have been implemented by the Abdullah Government have hit the Kashmiri Pandits hard. We shall have to say a lot about these reforms at its proper place but here we would like to discuss their repercussions on the social life of the Pandits. More than thirty percent of the lands in the valley belonged to this community. A very insignificant fraction of the lands was bestowed upon the few members of the community as jagirs by the past rulers for some loyal services rendered. Most of the land in their possession was secured by Pandits either at the time of the first settlement of the land seven decades ago when not many people were coming forward to take the responsibility. of developing the barren regions of the valley. Land was then considered a great liability and only industrious people with some capital to invest could have land as a business proposition. A large slice of this land was also purchased by the Pandits after 1934 when propriety rights were granted to Kashmiris. Before that year the Maharaja was recognised, in law, as the sole proprietor of land in the valley. Pandits purchased agricultural land with their hard earned money in hope that it would yield good return to maintain them. When the agrarian reforms were introduced thousands of Kashmiri Pandits whose only source of income was land were thrown on the streets.
According to the Big Estates Abolition Act every landlord has the right to keep 182 Kanals of his land. But the nationalist leaders and workers have been touring far and wide in the valley advising Muslim peasants not to give any share of the produce to the Pandit landlords. When the guardians of Law and Order are themselves interested in preaching the defiance of law what redressal can be available to the poor Pandit. Thus the Act has practically taken away the whole land without compensation from the Pandits irrespective of their economic condition.
No remedy but exodus
With doors of Government services virtually closed on them; with government contracts almost totally denied to them; with trade and commerce in a chaotic condition in the State; with land snatched away from them; and above all, with insecurity and uncertainty all round in their home land, if Kashmiri Pandits found the demons of starvation, death and disrespect staring them in their face there in no wonder in it. Time and time again they approached the eminent Kashmiri Pandits such as Sapru, Kunzru, Katju in India, they even waited upon Sardar Patel, with their bucketful of woes. But evidently no body could help them so long as the Kashmiri Pandit Prime Minister of India was adamant on his policy about Kashmir. Having felt convinced that they could expect no sympathy from high political quarters at New Delhi and the unlimited power of the Kashmiri nationalists was in no way to be curtailed, having also realized that there could be no end to the abnormal conditions so long as the dispute over the accession issue between Indian and Pakistan continued Kashmiri Pandits decided to leave their motherland for good. What a wrench it must be to a Pandit to bid goodbye to his country of birth it is not difficult to imagine. Already about 20,000 Pandits, men, women, and children have come out and settled in different parts of India. If the present conditions continue for some time more there should be no doubt that the remaining members of the community will also leave their hearths and homes and they valley will be completely denuded of the Hindus.
From their bitter experience of the nationalist politics during the last two decades particularly since October 1947, the Kashmiri Pandits consider it quite risky and dangerous to remain in the valley; they are afraid of a flare up which might develop into a big conflagration, envelop the small microscopic minority, and reduce it to ashes. 
It is interesting that even such a partisan person, a pro-Pak person could back in 50s, could ( and indeed did) articulate Pandit concerns, their plight so clearly. Something the younger generation of Pro-Pak KPs, are now incapable of expressing publicly. The piece also makes it clear how Pandits came to acquire land post 1934. 

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5 comments:

  1. "Something the younger generation of Pro-Pak KPs, are now incapable of expressing publicly". Can you please give examples of who are these Pro-Pak KPs? As a KP myself, I've never heard of these people that are alive today who are pro-pak.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. there are a handful working under various international universities...these folks continue to hold the belief that all will be fine once Kashmir becomes Pakistan. We have Mona Bhan...who is grand-daighter of Rughonath Vaishnavi...who was another "Pro-Pak" KP from the 50s. [more on him later] We have Nitasha Kaul...Suvir Kaul...Sanjay Kak (family ties to R.C. Kak)...all serving the same purpose...through their ethinic identity...portray murderous Tahreek as real peaceniks and Pandits talking about their own rights as Sanghi stooges.

      Delete
  2. How very sad that we have these people in our community who support the destruction of their own creed. It's like a Jewish person in the 1930's supporting the Nazis who wanted to destroy them. I would not be surprised if these KP's you listed are getting paid by Pakistan's ISI. I am so fortunate that I don't know these people personally. It would not bother me if they had came out gays or lesbians, but sympathizing their own destruction of the Kashmiri Pandit community by jihadi followers is sickening. If I had been their family brother or sister, I would disown them immediately.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Also Vinayak, I forgot to mention this in the other reply, that you should write about these KP traitors who are alive. List them and explain in this blog, what they're trying to do.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm from J&K and I'd love to learn more about the history of the Kashmir issue. How were these pro-Pakistan Kashmiri Pandits viewed within the Kahsmiri Pandit community then? How strong was the pro-Azadi and pro-Pakistan sentiment among Kahsmiri Pandits? You mentioned few names in one of your replies and I looked them up online. The fact that these people are not even bothered by how their kith and kin were driven out of their homeland by 'peace loving Muslim Kashmiris' is telling.

    Also, please suggest some good books to read on this subject or any other online resource which you think might be useful.

    ReplyDelete

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