Friday, September 4, 2020

Pandits under Article 370 regime

Extract from "Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War" (2004) By Arun Joshi.
the charges


Extract from "Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War" (2004) By Arun Joshi. It nicely lists outs how KPs were shaped as the perfect enemy by politicians of Kashmir. How KPs were seen as Nehru agents (today they are called Modi agents), how it was whispered that it was KPs who brought down Sheikh Abdullah, that they were Indira's little soldiers, privileged powerful community that was eating into the KM privilege pie, subverting their politics, how they were also "presstitutes" selling wrong narrative about Kashmir, how they were enemies of Kashmir since forever.  

The targeted killing  of Kashmiri Pandits in 89-90 was natural outcome of these whispers. They serve the ideological bases and justification for the cultural genocide unleashed upon the  community.

We are never told how the community was living under such charges and what purpose the charges served. We are not told why Kashmiri Pandits may resent the article. While a lot is written on how Article 370 was gradually eroding the "autonomy"and how KM majority politics perceived these changes to the status of conflict, nothing is mentioned about what was happening in Kashmir under the so called "autonomy" for decades and how KP community time and again was saved by Indian Constitutional ingress, the interpretation of constitution by Supreme Court, the so-called weakening of the Article 370.


To get a brief idea, we go back to 1960s when under so called communist leaning Indian Nationalist Sadiq , the state was continuing with its efforts in finishing off the KPs economically. In 50s, most KPs were working as teachers, State needed more teachers, and this was the only job available to them. Something they could still aspire for. They became the backbone of education but only to be chewed and spit out later. In mid 60s, when the time for these teachers to Gazetted posts came, the state government made an arbitrary rule from promotion. Out of every 100 gazetted posts, 50 went to Muslims of the entire State of Jammu & Kashmir, 30 went to Hindus from the Province of Jammu, and the remaining 20 went to Kashmiri Pandits, out of which one or two went to Sikhs. The reason: Muslim majority state considered ALL Muslims of the state (irrespective of their economic or social status ) as backward, and strangely (perhaps for cutting into Jan Sangh/ Praja Parisha support base) the Hindus of Hindu majority also as Backward. Pandits and still more invisible Sikhs were pushed to the bottom of the stack.

Thus, in many cases KP teachers now had a KM boss who was earning more salary but had originally been a student that the KP had taught. (And due to land reforms, that KM student may well have been having agricultural and Orchid land for additional income).

While all this was happening. Parmeshwari Handoo agitation started. An underage KP girl married an older KM man. The girl's mother alleged it was a case of forced marriage. Whatever may have been the truth, even Premnath Bazaz write that it was strange that even after claim was made by mother, no one had the power to restore the girl to the mother till the claim could be verified, as would have been the procedure for case. Kashmiri Pandits launched a massive agitation in which Jan Sangh leaders also took part and at least few KPs lost life in police action. However, interestingly the prolonged agitation towards the end shifted from communal issue to economic matters as KPs sought some "favors" for jobs.

To get KPs in line, Sadiq is famously claimed to have said (Premnath Bazaz also attests to it), KPs were still overrepresented in jobs and if KPs don't behave proper, the jobs will actually be based on the proportion of their miniscule population of 6% [prior to 1954, before Indian Constitution extended to the State, the recruitment was made to the services in proportion to the population of the major communities in the State. ]. The agitation broke, some KPs knew this was the end, they started looking for place out side the state and never ever did KPs later launch an agitation that could bring the state to halt and have themselves heard forcefully. 

It must be remembered that at the time Kashmir was not independent, was certainly not part of Pakistan, it was supposedly under left leaning Nationalists, all under article 370, yet KPs were dealing with this obvious communal state. The state was so blinded by its bias it didn't even realize what it was doing wrong.

The case of teachers went to Supreme Court [Triloki Nath Tiku & Anr vs State Of Jammu & Kashmir & Ors on 15 December, 1966]. The court found the rule to be contravention of Article 16 of Indian constitution:

(1) There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State

(2) No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect or, any employment or office under the State

In was in 1954, Part III of the Indian Constitution with some modifications was made applicable to the State. What today is sold as "erosion" of the Independence of Kashmir. It put J&K in a tough position as it couldn't continue with its "jobs in proportion to population" formula. Thus the State promulgated the Jammu & Kashmir Civil Services Rules in 1956, under the "Nationalist" Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed. It is obvious all these were just deals, carrots for trying to ride the mule of Muslim majoritarianism. Center looked the other way as long as some leader would say they have no issue with India, and it could be sold internationally as some sort of approval that all was okay in Kashmir. Center could look away, why not, it just impacted 4% of the population of the valley, and India gets to keep the muslim majority state as its crown jewel. In such an atmosphere, only loyalist KPs found life easy. Thus a generation of KP leaders were born who could not win a single election but were part of NC as "Yes Men", or at times "Yes Men" of centre. No KP could win election because delimitation was done in such a way that KP majority areas were partitioned. [Interestingly, something similar happened with marginalized Hanji community also. Delimitation meant they could not vote in their own people]. 

That the issue of teachers impacted KPs immensely from the fact that even Poet Dina Nath Nadim protested and was victimized. After State lost the case, it was asked by SC to actually define who is backward in J&K. Meanwhile the arbitrary communal rules for hirings, promotions still continued.

The state came up with Jammu & Kashmir Scheduled Castes & Backward Classes (Reservation of appointment by Promotion) Rules 1970.

Yet, on ground, in practice, the appointments were made on communal basis with KMs at the top of the stack despite their economic or social standing.

The matter again went to court [Makhanlal Waza & Ors vs State Of Jammu & Kashmir & Ors on 23 February, 1971]. KPs were still superseded based purely on religion.

KPs started boycotting the process. Around 400 KPs refused to sit for the interview for job promotion as protest.

The matter again went to court [Janki Prasad Parimoo & Ors. Etc. ... vs State Of Jammu & Kashmir & Ors on 10 January, 1973].

Court held that "Selection means that the man selected for promotion must be of merit. "

SC asked to State to explain how merit was decided.

It was told, candidate with more than 30% marks from the Committee and more than 20% marks from the expert were declared eligible for selection.

It was told how experts had asked that 50% score be the passing criteria, it was told how the committee went with 30%. And then when the people it wanted to select couldn't even score that, the score was dropped to 20%. Thus a candidate with more than 30% marks from the Committee and more than 20% marks from the expert were declared eligible for selection.

The Court went into the list of Backward classed that the state had prepared.

It asked the State the logic by which it called cultivators backward just on the basis of how much land they hold.

Court noted:

"In some areas as in Kashmir valley the ceiling for a cultivator is 10 Kanals of irrigated land. If a cultivator holds 10 Kanals of land or less he is to be regarded as backward i.e. to say socially and educationally backward. But if his own brother living in the same village owns half a Kanal more than the ceiling he is not to be considered backward. This completely distorts the picture. It will be very difficult to say that if a person owns just 10 Kanals of land he should be considered socially and educationally backward while his brother owning half a Kanal more should not be so considered. "

It is obvious that the State tried to practically again claim all Muslims as backward and again follow the communal policy to starve off KPs economically, forcing them to look outside, forcing them into counter communal politics. In this atmosphere the slogans of "Raliv, Tchaliv, Galiv" (Mix, Runoff, or Die) was first heard from the mouth of Sheikh Abdullah.  

Meanwhile, in Center, as a favor to KPs for putting up with this nonsesne, as a reward for loyalty and communal silence/peace, Centre under Indira, started hiring KPs in central jobs. The KPs were now getting placed in Central Banks, Communication depts. and offices like AG. But, in long run even that worked out against the KPs. In valley, they were now even all the more seen as "Center", the organ of all evil center.  There were whispers, not much killings yet. It was seen as peace. This peace dealing decade gave us the keyword political term "Kashmiriyat" [Toru Tak, EPW, 20 Apr, 2013. shows how the term was first deployed in mid 70s. The term has to be understood in context of Indira-Shiekh accord.]. The imaginary thing that supposedly according to experts died in 90s. Meanwhile in 89-90 KPs were again told that they were the eternal blood sucking privileged class and this time there was going to be another purge. 

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1 comment:

  1. Informative content nd an eye opener as a lot of people are unaware of what actually happed with the KPs.

    ReplyDelete

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