'Oh mischief! Though art swift to enter in the thoughts of desperate men ' Shakespeare
The great difference between the real statesman and the pretender is, that the one sees into the future, while the other regards only the present; the pretender lives by the day, and acts on expediency; the statesman acts on enduring principles and for immortality. What morality requires, true statesmanship should accept. The three great ends for a statesman are: security to possessors, facility to acquirers and liberty and hope to the people. True statesmanship is the art of changing a nation from what it is into what it ought to be. Mark Twain said: 'In statesmanship get formalities right, never mind about the moralities'.
Viewed from the angles of both formalities and moralities, I am rather skeptical as to whether A.R. Antulay, Union Minister for Minority Affairs, is politically right in going full steam ahead to notify Hindus in Jammu & Kashmir, the North East and Punjab as a 'minority' from the larger angle of preservation of national integrity and security. He is reported to have stated: 'This is my own idea given to me by God'. He has already scheduled consultations with Kashmiri Pundits on April 15 and again on April 22 to finalize the proposal, prior to the approval of the Union Cabinet. It is expected that these meetings will be attended by representatives of the State Government as well as those of the Union Home Ministry.
Mahatma Gandhi had hoped that Kashmir would be a shining symbol of secularism after independence. His dreams have been turned into ashes because of the terror unleashed by Pakistan-backed militants and communal elements in Kashmir during the last 20 years, who have resorted to selective victimization and killing of hundreds of Hindus. Thus in the late 1980s was set in motion the sad and cruel process of an exodus of practically the entire Hindu community (Kashmiri Pundits) from the place of their origin and birth for more than two thousand years, a fact which has not found adequate media coverage either in India or abroad. Pro-Pakistan militant organizations, such as the Hizb-Ul-Mujahideen, Harkat-Ul-Ansar and Lashkar-E-Toiba have played havoc in the valley by letting loose a reign of terror. This has resulted in the killing of hundreds of innocent people, rape and molestation of woman folk, ransacking of houses and looting of people's property by these fanatic militants.
Kashmiri Pundits and their sympathizers bore the brunt of this organized genocide. Ruthless killing of innocent people accelerated the migration process till almost the entire population of Kashmiri pundits was forced to migrate to safer areas in Jammu and other parts of the country. Undergoing a Diaspora, this small, well educated, peaceful and talented community has got scattered through out the country and are living presently under pitiable conditions in make shift refugee camps. To give some relevant statistics in this context, out of a total Kashmiri Pundit population of about 4,25,000 in Jammu & Kashmir in 1989, only 15,000 Pundits are presently living in the Kashmir Valley. 1800 Kashmiri Pundits have been killed by the Pakistan-sponsored militants. About 2.2 lakhs have moved to Jammu Region as migrants, while another 1.44 lakhs are reported to be living in Delhi as refugees. About 50,000 Kashmiri Pundits are reported to be living in different cities in India as migrants.
A large number of these helpless people, having been deprived of their ancestral homes in Kashmir, are now confined in unhygienic shanties and slums. There exist only a few parallels in world history, when the entire population of a particular religious minority community had been forced to leave their place of origin in such a brutal manner, leaving behind all their movable and immovable assets. The psychological trauma undergone by the Kashmiri Pundits is a dark chapter in the long and troubled history of India. Thanks to the Congress policy of pseudo-secularism founded on the bed-rock of minority appeasement at the expense of Hindu majority, all the peace loving Muslims of India are more concerned about the rights of Muslims in Palestine than about the rights of Kashmiri Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists in Kashmir.
Moderate Kashmiris say that what has been destroyed is something calledKashmiriat, an invisible but palpable understanding that Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and others would live together peaceably. Today, almost 55 years after the partition, the culture of secularism has been eroded and replaced by a culture of fundamentalism. And Antulay is trying to confirm this position by declaring the Hindus in Jammu & Kashmir as an Ethnic Minority.
There is an informed section of Muslim opinion which feels that the exodus of Kashmiri Pundits has adversely affected the standards of teaching and education in the Kashmir Valley. Qudsia Shah, former president of the women's college in Srinagar has stated: 'The exodus of Hindus is not good for Kashmir. Kashmir Pundits being liberal and broad-minded are good teachers. We Muslims are the losers...Academic standards have dropped, to say the least.' The new ethos is that of Islamic fundamentalist education, with veiled little schoolgirls, and women in purdah, in a land that was once a happy haven of peace. A new gun-culture has replaced the culture of harmony that once epitomized 'the rich, artistic, syncretic culture' of the valley. Amitabh Matoo, a Professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi also expresses the same view when he says: 'The real tragedy is that the ancient traditions of music, dance and literature forming the rich syncretic culture of Kashmir have been destroyed or forgotten.'
As Minister for Minorities, A.R. Antulay should take immediate action to restore normalcy in Kashmir and pave the way for the Kashmiri Pundits living as refugees in different parts of India to get back to their original home under conditions of safety, security and peace. Instead of doing that, Antulay is trying to bandy words such as 'minority status' to the Hindus of Jammu and Kashmir without caring for the long-term consequences of his flippant semantic approach to the tough and substantive issue of established rights of a race going back to the dawn of history. Or is he doing it only after fully realizing the consequences as a pseudo-secularist politician committed only to the sole cause of appeasement of real Muslim/Christian minorities in the country under the newly created artificial umbrella of Hindu minority in Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab and the North Eastern States?
At any rate all pseudo-secular politicians in India 'I mean the grisly gang of anti-Hindus ' would be delighted by Antulay's announcement that Hindus who are in majority in the country as a whole are going to be completely relegated to the status of officially declared 'minorities' in certain specific pockets of India like Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and the North East. It is feared that in these pockets by his newly announced policy, Antulay would make all the Hindus a minority both in the de jure and de facto sense. In the rest of the country, the Hindus though in de jure majority have already been reduced to the status of ade facto minority by all the unscrupulous pseudo-secular politicians like Antulay, and others of his tribe. In other words, Antulay's declaration is that Hindus in Jammu & Kashmir are voiceless minorities in a minority while the Hindus in the rest of India are 'voiceless minorities' in a majority.
The UPA Government seems to have run out of ideas and therefore it is not surprising that Antulay is ruminating over the past, endeavoring to go back to the pre-partition days of Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan who were all the time concerned about ever shifting and ever shuffling Hindu-Muslim minorities in the swirling waters of ever-violent Islamic Communalism!
The last thing a political party gives up is its vocabulary. The Congress Party will never give up its game of political duplicity, playing with favorite words like majority and minority in regard to every issue affecting our national life. For Congress Party and Antulay, minority refers to the forces of secular good and majority to the forces of communal evil all the time. THIS IS THEIR ENTIRE LIFE-LINE. This is because, in Indian vote-bank politics, it is the minority crowd that dictates the language, and such a crowd often relinquishes the original core ideas it has been given more easily and more readily than the snappy catch words it has learned.
Antulay may have his political reasons to choose this semantic trap for the Hindus but he has no right to drag the Indian nation as a whole into this deadly trap. He cannot take the Hindus of India into the secularly conceived and politically planted quagmire of minority politics. Is Antulay trying to create another mini-Pakistan in Kashmir by promoting the 'communal' cause of Hindu 'minorityism'? Is he trying to create a mini-Christian State in the North East? Is he attempting to please Pakistan by declaring that the Hindus in Kashmir Valley are not only second class citizens stripped of all fundamental rights but also officially a minority community not fit to rule the State now and for ever? Antulay's proposal will only open the floodgates of public demands for different types of territorial divisions and demarcations based on every ground other than public interest or permanent national interest. Great caution should be exercised by our Prime Minister to restrain the wild enthusiasms of a run away politician like Antulay with a poor track record of probity in public life, in the larger interest of preservation of our nation's territorial integrity and survival of India as a nation.