The hills and valleys of Kashmir remained mute spectators to the violence perpetrated for many centuries in the land of Kashmir. Hopes that 1947 would bring peace turned hollow, finally resulting in a mass exodus of Hindus in 1990. The promise of Indian constitution that all religions are equal did not protect the rights of Kashmiri Hindus to live in their place of birth, even though that is what Article 370 promised. Many were killed, while many more were forced to abandon the valley under duress due to threats of extreme violence. Merely following Hinduism, their ancestral faith, brought deadly violence upon them from their wrathful Muslim neighbors. It was the case in Kashmir, since the 14th century as Islamic raiders, took over Kashmir valley and increased their power over the valley gradually. The incessant violence continued to increase even after the independence of India sometimes pushed from across the borders, which threatened the security of the newly founded nation of India.
The Exodus of Kashmiri Hindus
A blatant act of ethnic cleansing was perpetrated to rid Kashmir valley of Hindus in 1990. Hindu men, women, and children were maimed, killed, and raped. Their houses were ransacked and burnt. Many were terrorized through blaring calls for killing Hindus from Mosques of Kashmir. More than 6000 Kashmiri Hindus were massacred and about 5 million were forced to leave Kashmir valley overnight on November 9th, 1990, making the Muslim majority state of Kashmir into an absolute Muslim state and the only state in India where non-Muslims could not survive. Even though the constitution of India provided equal rights and protection for life and liberty of all Indians regardless of religion and region, Kashmir remained outside the purview of this constitutional provision. Not only were non-Muslims forced out of Kashmir with impunity, but also no other Indian, even those belonging to Muslim faith, were allowed to enter to settle in Kashmir.
The Kashmir valley became the exclusive domain of a few influential Muslims, where the poor lower-caste Muslims such as Bakarvals suffered innumerable injustices, since the state did not implement Government of India’s reservation policy or educational reforms brought forward by the Government of India for the welfare of lower castes and those living in economically poor conditions. For a nation to progress, it is important that all states and regions progress in tandem and implement national welfare schemes equally. Therefore, abrogation of article 370 is a boon for the region of Kashmir as it would benefit the poor and unorganized sector tremendously by allowing the flow of people and investments along with the implementation of welfare schemes.
New Hope for Minorities and Weaker Sections of Kashmir
Now that the removal of this unwieldy Article 370 is accomplished, it hopefully brings the much needed peace and prosperity to the Kashmir valley. All Kashmiris are free to avail all the facilities and benefits the government of India provides to all its citizens as well as all Indians regardless of religion and region are free to settle in Kashmir. Today it brings the momentous occasion of accomplishing the national integration of India, which brought true unity and equality to all states of India, the historic victory for all Indians. Minorities and weaker sections of Kashmir will now become eligible to avail reservations and other welfare schemes.
Reparations and Repatriation of Kashmiri Hindus
While celebrating national integration merrily on this happy occasion it is also important to remember and recognize the travails of the 5 million Kashmiri Hindus forced to leave the valley for no fault of theirs other than for merely being born Hindus in Kashmir. Leaders of all major political parties of India must come together to condemn and apologize to the Kashmiri Hindus. Many Kashmiri Hindus might be elated and planning to return, but must be provided adequate security cover, hence such targeted violence aimed to achieve ethnic cleansing is never repeated again. The security cover from Kashmir should not be withdrawn under any circumstances, since the threat of violence and cross-border terror threats continue to loom large in the Kashmir valley.
The tears and travails of Kashmiri Hindus perpetrated until that the fateful night of November 9 in 1990 went unnoticed until today, and unless the Indian government commits its support to these families, the dissolution of the Article 370 comes as an empty statement. Prime Minister Modi has accomplished the long-overdue task neglected by previous Prime Ministers of India. Abrogation of Article 370 would continue to support the vision of India as a democratic nation for ages to come. However, the vision of progress must include justice to displaced Kashmiri Hindus and strict implementation of Government of India’s welfare schemes in Kashmir.
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