Rekha Qazi Wangnoo
Owe Existence to my deities-cant betray them for survival Politics.
The microscopic ethnic minority of Kashmiri Pandits is in an utter shambles for the last 30 years due to internal and external disturbances and striving to preserve their inherited identity, ethos, cultural and heritage assets, and their religious assets .
The community is at verge of permanent extinction in terms of Rights on Land , immovable Property, employment, vanishing of cultural and heritage assets including religious assets, due to absence of necessary procedural protection and safeguards under provisions of law.
The absence of any riders or procedural safeguards for protection of these Rights of the community in our motherland ,especially when community is scattered and not physically present in their motherland to ensure such safeguards themselves , the free for all situation may destabilise our indigenous Rights with respect to our ethnic identity and create dilution of our 5000 years old ethnic history, at the time when the entire community for last 30 years of exile has been striving to return only to retrieve, re-establish and preserve its identity, language, ancestral religious places and their heritage assets , indigenous social ,cultural and linguistic identity as Kashmiri Pandits.
The non protection of such community assets (DAROHAR) could affect our future generations which shall be forced by circumstantial infringement and gradual replacement of valuable ethnic traditions like Hearath with Shivratri, Zeath Aatham with just an Mela Kher Bhawani, CharvanTehar with Halwa Puri offerings for Maa Sharika Hari Parbat and Zala Mata Khrew and all such ethnic exclusive values which remain source of our existence as community and situation may certainly turn in absolute change and dilution of our 5000 year old ethnic religious and cultural identity of Kashmiri Pandits.We Kashmiri pandits being mostly non Vegetarians but nothing has and will restrict me from being strictly vegetarian on monthly Zoon Pach Ashtamiduring my entire lifetime and even before entering Mata Kher Bhawani temple and safeguards and protection of such cultural identities has to be and shall be prime to me than any thing on this earth even than my own life. If so does not happen than why live and why return and for what.
The lesson from historical past of Jammu and Kashmir as documented by historians of repute tells us that when in 1889 the State Council ordered similar free access to non-inhabitants and imported non-inhabitants as numerous administrative servants from neighbouring British Punjab for replacement of Persian with Urdu as the language of administration and new system of examination introduced with stiff rules for appointment to government services ultimately culminated in throwing Kashmiris especially Kashmiri Pandits the masters of Persian language out of jobs and all these jobs were occupied by the people from the neighbouring province of the Punjab.
The absence of safeguard / riders for safeguards and protection of the legitimate interests of Kashmiri Pandits could be repeat of Kashmir history of pre 1889 when the State administration got flooded with non-domiciles which lead to non-domiciles assuming all positions and roles for their personal benefit and utilization of the distribution of employments as their effective instrument and patronage.
It is before 1889 when the domiciles were being deprived of their share in the services which gave rise to persistent representations from the native Kashmiri Pandits beginning as early as 1889 AD and forced the then Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir Maharaja Pratap Singh to direct that preference be bestowed to State Subjects over outsiders in the matter of employment.
The history of Jammu and Kashmir is also witness to the movement of 1894 by Sanatan Dharm Sabha of Kashmiri Pandits who campaigned for rights on land jobs etc for domiciles and gave an famous slogan of “Kashmir for Kashmiris proposing the exclusion of Punjabis and the other non- Kashmiris from the State appointments and property rights especially buying of land and property of Kashmiris at the time when all the elevated positions were occupied by the non domiciles who created great hindrances for the natives to get higher promotions and merit . Punjabi officials who ran the state saw no need for educated Kashmiris threatening their hold on the meticulously controlled bureaucracy and their approach which had stimulated strong feelings of antagonism among the Kashmiris.
In May 1904 AD the State Council of that period had to adopt the rules for natives who sought employment in the State and preference were given to domiciles over others who were either outsiders or had no special qualification for appointment in the services of the State. Since the high positions were still seized by the outsiders and the attitude of the outsiders had aroused strong feelings of resentment among the domiciles a committee was formed to define the term “State Subject” to safeguard their rights of the domiciles of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and in June 1912 AD the then State Council of that time defined the term State Subject for the first time.
The definition of this fourth clause being too flawed and not satisfying the educated native Kashmiris and the legendary Kashmiri Pandits like JiaLal Kilam, Shankar lal Koul, Jialal Jalalietc spearheading agitations for genuineness and legitimacy of their demands ultimately leading to State Government appointment of committee of Enquiry in 1916 into the State Subject question.
The history of Jammu and Kashmir clearly records that In 1922 AD at the instance of Maharaja Hari Singh as then senior member of the council appointed an committee and issued an circular over the signature of the Maharaja prohibiting acquisition of land in the State by anyone except State Subject. The circular also said: “In future no non-state subject should be appointed to any post without the express orders of the Maharaja Bahadur in Council in each case, each such proposals would be accompanied by a full statement of reasons as to why it was considered necessary to appoint a non-state subject, it considered necessary to appoint a non-state subject, it being definitely stated whether there was no state subject qualified available for the appointment proposed. In like manner, no scholarship or training expenses of any kind would be granted to non-state subjects”
It was October 1926 an another Kashmiri Pandit intellectual in Srinagar PanditJia Lal Kilam moved a resolution demanding that only those persons whose ancestors had been residing in the state since the time of Maharaja Gulab Singh should only be considered as the hereditary State Subjects and preferential treatment in the state-services be given to such persons who were residing in the state from the formation of J&K state i.e. 16 March 1846 ,which led to appointment of an commission by Maharaja under the chairmanship of Major General Janak Singh the then revenue minister to define the term State-Subject Definition .The commission submitted its report in 1927 AD, defining the term State Subject.
It is worth mentioning here that Parenthetically, it was the Kashmiri Pandits whose untiring efforts led to the implementation of the State Subject Law and the agitation conducted was on the purely secular basis for all the people irrespective of the religion or caste to which they belonged and the entire movement was peaceful and intellectual in character and was neither attended with fanatic overtones nor did it assume any communal colour or posture or violent outburst .
Legendary Kashmiri Pandit Kashyap Bandhu should be our inspiration ,he as son of the soil even fought for the rights of labours from Jammu and Kashmir, most of them Kashmiri , in Lahore as the first secretary of Kashmiri Mazdoor Board Lahore in 1927 .
I strongly believe that now is the time ,when possibility of addressability is high , to put forth all such morally genuine views and seek some protection and safeguard for our DAROHAR of Cultural and Heritage Assets like Shrines ,Temples , Springs , Meadows, which we were forced to leave behind 30 years before and seek for genuine balancing with aspirations of fellow citizens of our great nation without any infringement on genuine rights of our community. We need to ask for some rider on any sale /Purchase /Transfer or lease o four Land, immovable property , community assets to anyone from outside of U.T of Jammu and Kashmir till all such assets are not managed by community itself.
(The author is advocate J&K High Court Srinagar)
The views expressed in the Article above are Rekha Qazi Wangnoo’s personal views and kashmiribhatta.in is not responsible for the opinions expressed in the above article.
Courtesy: Daily Excelsior: 17th November, 2019