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archive: Making Genocide a Non Event

Making Genocide a Non Event

Posted by Ashok Chowgule (ashokvc@giasbm01.vsnl.net.in)
Kashmir Sentinel
June 16 - 31 July, 1999


    Title: Making Genocide a Non Event
    Author: 
    Publication: Kashmir Sentinel
    Date: June 16 - 31 July, 1999
    
    "It is the greatest service done by an institution created to uphold
    human rights towards the cause of Political Terrorism.  The judgement
    has imparted a secular legitimacy to a militant movement which the
    entire world now recognises as Pan-Islamic terrorism", these were the
    initial reactions of the Chairman of Political Affairs of Panun
    Kashmir when asked to comment on the judgement of National Human
    Rights Commission on the Case No: 938/94-95/NHRC of Panun Kashmir
    Movement.  This organisation had stated in its plea to NHRC that the
    acts of violence, perpetrated against Kashmiri Pandits resulting in
    their almost total exodus from the Valley, amounted to genocide under
    the terms of the 1948 genocide convention.
    
    The judgement has been received by the entire displaced community with
    a sense of shock.  "It is basically a non-judgement.  What has
    happened to us has been termed as genocide-like and not genocide.  The
    entire hypocrisy of the commission is revealed by this one word," said
    Sh B.L. Fotedar a retired Professor.  The debate which the judgement
    has generated within the displaced community has not as yet reflected
    openly.  A group of prominent Pandit experts met immediately after the
    judgement and cautioned the Pandit leadership to postpone their public
    reaction as it might jeopardise National effort in fighting the
    terrorist intrusion backed by Pakistan Army in Kargil.
    
    In the meanwhile, this judgement has drawn little appreciation from
    the cross section of media in terms of its import vis-a-vis correcting
    the distortions in the Human Rights situation in Kashmir valley. 
    Experts on Human Rights situation, terrorism and international law
    have started expressing sense of bewilderment on the judgement.  One
    of the leading columnist of a national daily Tribune commented, "Acts
    akin to genocide and a genocide-type design, but no genocide!  That is
    like saying that we have a war like situations in Kargil but not a
    war.  A description that conceals more than it reveals."
    
    Dr. M.K. Teng, himself an internationally reputed expert on Kashmir
    described the judgement of the National Human Rights Commission, "as
    an effort to steer clear of the pronouncements on the major
    catastrophy that Pan-Islamic fundamentalism has brought to Jammu and
    Kashmir.  Dr Teng further commented on the judgement as, "Human Rights
    have a single dimension and that dimension is universal in content. 
    They are not restricted by civil law and civil procedure of any
    country including India.  International imperatives which have been
    laid down by Nuremberg Tribunal, Tokyo Tribunal and the United Nations
    Human Rights Commission cannot be inverted to suit the purpose of any
    Nation State.  NHRC has reversed all these imperatives with regard to
    the petition of Kashmiri Pandits,".  Dr M.K. Teng incidentally had led
    one of the first delegation of Kashmiri Pandits which approached the
    National Human Rights Commission when it was constituted in 1993.
    
    Prof.  K.N. Pandita another expert on Central Asia and Islamic
    fundamentalism who has been regularly representing on Human Rights
    situation in the region at the United Nations Human Rights Commission
    at Geneva describes the judgement as a very clever act to 'play safe'
    and avoid-telling the 'bitter truth'.  He comments, that, "the
    judgement is a clear attempt to 'please everybody and every pare.
    involved in the tragedy that overtook-the Pandits,".
    
    US Congressman Frank Pallone taking note of the inadequacy of the
    judgement commented very recently that so far National Human Rights
    Commission of India has not gone beyond acknowledging that Pandits
    have been victims of ethnic cleaning as a part of militant campaigns
    to get Kashmir seceed from India.  Prof ML Koul who has written many
    books on Kashmir made a more penetrating observation.  "Hiding the
    acts of Genocide has always 6een an inseparable part of the processes
    which cause Genocide.  International experts term it as making a 'non
    event' of a genocidal act.  NHRC willy nilly has done this particular
    role for the perpetrators of genocide in the Valley".
    
    While as the debate on the implications of 11th June, 1999 judgement
    of NHRC has just picked up the total attitude of National Human Rights
    Com-mission cannot be judged only on the basis of its the various
    pleas of the displaced Hindus from the Valley.  Feelings as ex-pressed
    by Dr. M.K. Teng that, "NHRC is typically functioning as a statutory
    instrument of Indian state conscious of its origin and its status,"
    convey more than actually appears to a naked eye.  During many
    hearings at Human Rights court constituted by NHRC no less a person
    than its Chairman started showing more interest in the political
    demands of displaced Kashmiri Pandits than various Human Rights issues
    for which the commission had been approached by the displaced victims
    from the Valley.  Panun Kashmir representatives were baffled when the
    Commission started asking more questions on their 'Homeland demand'
    than, on the issue of 'internal displacement' for which they had
    approached the Commission.
    
    The incident which took place during one of the penultimate hearings
    for the 'Genocide Case' for which judgement was pronounced on 11th
    June bears a better testimony of the total attitude of the National
    Human Rights Commission towards displaced Kashmiri Pandits.  Dr Shakti
    Bhan who had been representing on behalf of Panun Kashmir at the
    Commission moved an application when the Human Rights court was about
    to wind up its proceedings for the day.  The application which Dr
    Shakti moved had a dramatic impact when the chairman of NHRC started
    reading it.  No less a person than the chairman blurted out with anger
    on the reputed gynaecologist from the Valley, "What do you think you
    are? ... Do you want to become a leader?  Do you know what you have
    written?  Your case has already been dismissed?.. what is your locus
    standii? ... Do you represent all Kashmiri Pandits ... ? etc etc.."
    The shocked lady still mustered courage and pleaded "Sir if our case
    has been already disposed why have we not been communicated?.... Why
    is our case listed by NHRC itself for hearing today?  Where is the
    copy of the decision which you have given on our case?.. Sir you might
    have disliked what we have written in the application but this is how
    we and my community feels about the commission... We do not mean to
    dishonour the commission and to demonstrate that spirit I for the
    present withdraw this application" Dr Shakti Bhan left feeling
    harassed.
    
    The others who witnessed those proceedings were no less shocked. 
    "Even an individual can approach the Human Rights Commission.  Why
    should the chairman talk about the locus standii?... It is not a crime
    to be leader!
    
    .... If commission has taken decision why is the case still listed for
    discussion?" with such questions the displaced Pandits left the
    commission premises.  This correspondent who was present there was
    hurriedly able to note the contents of the application moved and
    subsequently withdrawn under the circumstances revealed here.  These
    contents revealed the reasons for the consternation of the Chairman of
    NHRC.  It read," The honourable members of National Human Rights
    Commission will appreciate our anxiety and concern over two
    fundamental problems we faced in the proceedings of the commission.
    First we have found to our consternation that the proceedings of the
    commission follow a quasi-judicial process and precept similar to
    Indian judicial system, leading invariably to delay of justice and in
    many cases denial of justice as well.
    
    .... Secondly honourable commission has followed other such procedures
    which have lead to procrastination of vital decisions on major issues
    of the violation of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir ... In our
    petition submitted to the honourable com-mission dated 20/11/97 we had
    prayed to the chairman of NHRC to, "institute a commission of enquiry
    on the Sangrampora and Gool massacres of Kashmiri Pandits in
    particular and to enquire the entire gamut of Govt's, handling of the
    issue of return in the light of the fresh destabilisation of the
    entire Kashmiri Pandit Community.. for reasons known to the commission
    only, such a prayer was ignored It took one more gruesome massacre of
    Kashmiri Pandits at Wandhama to shake the honourable commission out of
    a self imposed inertia to constitute a commission of enquiry headed by
    Sanker Sen. Even though the terms of reference of the commission as
    reported by the press were not comprehensive enough to understand the
    entire gamut of govt's handling of the issue of return of displaced
    Hindus of Kashmir, yet the re-port of the enquiry was not allowed to
    see the light of the day. Honourable commission has however chosen to
    embarrass us by responding with unusual haste to a plea of a foreign
    organisation, Indo Canadian Kashmir Forum (ICKF), which sought a
    phased return of a section of displaced Pandits to Valley,
    intriguingly overlooking the underlying message of the series of
    massacres of Hindus which followed Wandhama Carnage.. For more than
    four years National Human Rights Commission has avoided to give its
    opinion with regard to the settling of the definitional status of
    displaced Kashmiri Pandit population and only complimented the dilly
    dallying tactics of state as well as Central governments.
    
    .... We had also time and again pleaded and prayed to the commission
    to constitute an expert 'study group' to look into the issues relating
    to the ethenoreligious cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits.  No action has
    been taken on that account so far.
    
    .... We have enough reasons to suspect that the honourable commission
    has abnegated its rightful function avoided taking responsibility,
    more or less in consonance with the shifting attitudes of the State
    and Central governments which for obvious reasons have been seeking to
    camouflage the most severe violation of Human Rights of Hindus of
    Kashmir.
    
    .... The failure of National Human Rights Commission to intervene
    properly on the issues which our organisation has brought to its
    notice has undermined the faith of the displaced community in the
    honourable Commission.  The attitude of NHRC has also contributed
    wit-tingly or unwittingly towards generating a selective sensitivity
    on the Human Rights scenario in the country." Just after this hearing
    when people were coming out of the Human Rights Court a gentleman
    perhaps an employee of NHRC commented, "your have put the hand on the
    raw nerve of the Commission".
    
    The judgement on the genocide is bound to cause uproar in coming
    days.  The displaced community, as per reports, is gearing for a
    proper rebuttal.  "World has to know that NHRC is a sham.  We will
    expose and reveal its modus operandi," said one Pandit leader in
    Jammu.  Dr Shakti Bhan the OK leader, however, was more composed in
    her reaction, "W,- have succeeded in making Human Rights Groups like
    Amnesty International Asia Watch and others to appreciate our view. 
    NHRC has only undermined its own position by failing to see the truth
    which is getting wider international recognition with each day".
    



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