Tag Archives: kashmir

A UNIQUE EXHIBITION ON TERRORISM UNLEASHED

 

François Gautier

Source: Kashmir herald

 

Do you know the FACTS about Kashmir?

Over 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits, constituting 99% of the total population of Hindus living in the Kashmir Valley, have been forcibly pushed out of the Valley by terrorists. Since 1989, they have been forced to live the life of exiles in their own country. Terrorism has unleashed in Kashmir a systematic campaign of terror, murder, loot, arson and rape against Hindus in Kashmir. About 70,000 of them still languish in makeshift refugee camps in Jammu and Delhi. Scores of temples in Kashmir have been desecrated, destroyed, looted. More than 900 educational institutions have been attacked by terrorists. Properties of Pandits have been vandalized, businesses destroyed or taken over, even hospitals have not been spared.

Did you know that this huge human tragedy is taking place in Free India?

Kashmir was known as “Sharda Peeth” , the abode of learning. Now the Pandits, the original inhabitants, have been forced to flee. 5000 years of civilization is at stake. 

THE ROLE OF PAKISTAN IN KASHMIRI TERROR is clear: Terrorism in Kashmir is an ideological struggle with specific fundamentalist and communal Agenda.

Terrorist violence aims at the disengagement of the state of Jammu and Kashmir from India and its annexation to Pakistan. It is a continuation of the Islamic fundamentalist struggle. The major dimension of terrorist violence in Kashmir is the terrorists’ commitment to the extermination and subjugation of the Hindus in the state, because Hindus do not subscribe to the idea of separation from India, nor will they allow governance by the tenets of Islam. Kashmiri Pandits have always been in the forefront of the struggle against secessionism, communalism and fundamentalism. Hence this peace loving minority with a progressive outlook became the main victim of terrorist violence.  

The strategies involved in the terrorists’ operation against the Hindus in Kashmir are simple:

– The extermination of Hindus, i.e., subjecting Hindus to brutal torture, to instill fear among them in order to achieve their submission.

To engineer a forced mass exodus of Hindus from the land of their ancestors by way of issuing threatening letters, kidnappings and torture deaths on non-compliance of the terrorists’ dictates and ensure the destruction of the secular and pluralistic character of Kashmiri Society.

Attacks, molestations, kidnappings, gang rapes of the women folk of the Hindu Pandits to instill fear and humiliation.

Destruction and burning of residential houses of the Hindus who have been compelled to abandon their homes.

Looting of their properties and appropriation of their business establishments are undertaken to ensure that they do not return.

Attachment of the ancestral and landed property of Pandits. Destruction of the social and religious institutions of the Hindus by the desecration and destruction of their places of worship.

Appropriation of the property of the Hindu shrines.

BURNING BOOKS, LOOTING OF CULTURE is also a very important part of the plan. Kashmir was the crucible of Knowledge, Spirituality, a hallowed centre of learning and the cradle of Shivaism. Kashmiri Pandits excelled in philosophy, aesthetics, poetics, sculpture, architecture, mathematics, astronomy and astrology. Sanskrit was studied, propagated and spoken by women and men. Scholars and saints such as Kalhan, Jonraj, Srivar, Abhinavgupta, Somanand, Utpaldev, Somdev and Kshemendra created here an intellectual centre of unrivalled repute. Fundamentalism and terrorism have been ruthless in their assault on “Sharda Peeth”, zealous in ravaging its heritage, and consistent only in bloodthirsty intolerance. The destruction of Hindu places of worship, forced conversions of Pandits and death and ignominy to those who resisted, were accompanied by a savage assault on literary activity. This process has been going on since centuries.

Commencing 1998, the assault on learning began afresh. How else to erase 5000 years of civilization? The Jammaat-i-Islami, a fundamentalist organization, launched a campaign to ransack libraries in the educational institutions and flared ban on books which did not correspond to their ideas about man, world and God. The Kashmir university funded by the University Grants Commission and headed by the Governor of the state was denuded of two thousand books including the works of Milton, G.B. Shaw, Shakespeare, H.G. Wells and tomes on Hindu Philosophy. Book-shops were looted in broad daylight at Batamaloo, Srinagar. The library of the Information Centre run by Government of India was looted and set on fire.

As a correspondent covering India for more than 20 years, I have witnessed the terrible damage that terrorism in Kashmir has inflicted upon people’s lives, their family, their culture, the very fabric of society, not only of the Kashmiri Pandits, but also of the Muslims of the Valley, who after all, are the victims too of Pakistan’s bloody designs.

Hence, with two journalist friends, we started a Foundation: FACT – Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism. The first task of FACT has been to mount an exhibition on terrorism, focusing on the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits, so that the people of India who do not suffer directly from terrorism understand what it does to others.

We need your support and we invite all of you, whatever your class, caste, religion, or ethnic origin, to come and witness it. Come and see the FACTS. Later, we would like this exhibition to travel not only to all major India cities, but also to the United States, England, France and Switzerland, so that the world understands what India has been going through in the last fifty years. 

Learning from History

 

Source: Kashmir Herald
Francois Gautier
The massacre of six million Jews by Hitler and the persecution they suffered all over the world in the last 15 centuries has been meticulously recorded after 1945 and has been enshrined not only in history books, but also in Holocaust museums, the most famous of these being the one in Washington DC. It has not been done with a spirit of vengeance: Look at Israel and Germany today, they are in the best of terms; yet, facts are facts and contemporary Germany has come to terms with its terrible actions during Second World War.
Hindus too have suffered a terrible Holocaust, probably without parallel in human history. Take the Hindu Kush, for instance; probably, one of the biggest genocides in the history of Hindus. There has practically been no serious research on the subject or mention in history books. The Hindu Kush is a mountain system nearly 1,000 miles long and 200 miles wide, running north-east to south-west and dividing the Amu Darya valley and the Indus valley. The Hindu Kush has over two dozen summits of more than 23,000 feet and historically its passes, particularly the Khyber, have been of great military significance, for they provide access to the northern plains of India. Most foreign invaders have used the Khyber Pass: Alexander the Great in 327 BC, Mahmud of Ghazni, in 1001 AD; Timur Lane in 1398 AD; and, Nadir Shah in 1739 AD. 
Yet, in the first millennium before Christ, two major Hindu kingdoms, those of Gandhaar (Kandahar) and Vaahic Pradesh (Balkh of Bactria) had their borders extending far beyond the Hindu Kush. The kingdom of Gandhaar, for instance, was established by Taksha, the grandson of Bharat of Ayodhya, and its borders went from Takshashila (Taxila) to Tashkent (corruption of Taksha Khand) in present day Uzbekistan. In the later period, the Mahabharat speaks of Gandhaari as a princess of Gandhaar and her brother, Shakuni, as a prince and later as Gandhaar’s ruler (the last Hindu Shahiya king of Kabul, Bhimapal, was killed in 1026 AD). Then came, in 3rd century BC, Buddhist emperor Kanishka, whose empire stretched from Mathura to the Aral Sea (beyond the present day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Krygzystan) and under his influence Buddhism flourished in Gandhaar. The two giant Buddha sandstones carved into the cliffs of Bamian, which were destroyed by the Taliban, date from the Kanishka period. In Persian, the word ‘Kush’ is derived from the verb ‘Kushtar’ – to slaughter or carnage.
Encyclopaedia Americana says of Hindu Kush: “The name means literally ‘Kills the Hindu’, a reminder of the days when Hindu slaves from Indian subcontinent died in harsh Afghan mountains while being transported to Moslem courts of Central Asia.” Encyclopaedia Britannica on its part mentions “that the name Hindu Kush first appears in 1333 AD in the writings of Ibn Battutah, the medieval Berber traveller, who said the name meant ‘Hindu Killer’, a meaning still given by Afghan mountain dwellers”. Unlike the Jewish holocaust, the exact toll of the Hindu genocide suggested by the name Hindu Kush is not available. “However,” writes Hindu Kush specialist Srinandan Vyas, “the number is easily likely to be in millions.” A few known historical figures can be used to justify this estimate. Encyclopaedia Britannica recalls that in December 1398 AD, Timur Lane ordered the execution of at least 50,000 captives before the battle for Delhi; likewise, the number of captives butchered by Timur Lane’s army was about 100,000. Encyclopae-dia Britannica again mentions that Mughal emperor Akbar ordered the massacre of about 30,000 captured Rajput Hindus on February 24, 1568 AD, after the battle for Chitod, a number confirmed by Abul Fazl, Akbar’s court historian. Afghan historian Khondamir notes that during one of the many repeated invasions on the city of Herat in western Afghanistan, which used to be part of the Hindu Shahiya kingdoms, “1,500,000 residents perished”. “Thus,” writes Vyas, “it is evident that the mountain range was named as Hindu Kush as a reminder to the future Hindu generations of the slaughter and slavery of Hindus during the Muslim conquests.”
Since some of the Muslim conquerors took Indian plainsmen as slaves, a question arises: Whatever happened to this slave population? The startling answer comes from The New York Times (May-June 1993). The Gypsies, who used to be wandering people in Central Asia and Europe since around the 12th century, have been persecuted in almost every country (the Nazis killed 300,000 gypsies in gas chambers). Until now their country of origin could not be identified, as their language has very little in common with the other European languages. Recent studies, however, show that their language is similar to Punjabi and to a lesser degree, Sanskrit. Thus the Gypsies probably originated from the greater Punjab.
The time-frame of Gypsy wanderings also coincides with early Islamic conquests; hence, it is most likely their ancestors were driven out of their homes in Punjab and taken as slaves over the Hindu Kush. Why does not the Government of India tell Indian children about the Hindu Kush genocide?
The horrors of the Jewish holocaust are taught not only in schools in Israel and the US, but also in Germany, because both Germany and Israel consider the Jewish holocaust a “dark chapter” in the history. Yet, in 1982, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) issued a directive for the rewriting of school texts. Among other things, it stipulated: “Characterisation of the medieval period as a time of conflict between Hindus and Muslims is forbidden.”
Thus, denial of history, or negationism, has become India’s official “educational” policy. Fortunately, the present Government of India has initiated a rewriting of History school books, although this policy has come under attack as “a dangerous saffronisation” of history.
This is why the Forum Against Continuing Terrorism (FACT), which sponsored the recent exhibition in Delhi on the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits – an exhibition which opened also in Bangalore on September 1, and will be in Poland on September 10, and then in Berlin on the 15th – would like to start a project aiming at having a Holocaust Museum in New Delhi. It will record not only the genocide of Hindus at the hands of Muslim invaders, but also the terrible persecution by the Portugese (hardly mentioned, too, in Indian History books), or of the British (nobody knows that 25 millions Indians died in famine between 1815 and 1920, a genocide in the true sense of the term, as the Britsih broke the agricultural backbone of India for raw materials like Cotton, jute, etc.
FACT needs the support of all Indians for this museum to come into existence, so that every Indian child knows his/her history and what his/her forefathers had to endure.
[FACT, which stands for FoUNDATION Against Continuing Terrorism HAS its registered office at 41 Jorbagh, New Delhi 110003 and this is where the cheques in the name of FACT can be sent,  to 41 Jorbagh, New Delhi 110003, India .  FACT HAS tax exemption.]

Donare online at www.fact-india.com

 
François Gautier

Website: http://www.francoisgautier.com

Terrorism – Islam in India must be different

Terrorism – Islam in India must be different
Source: The Sunday Indian
Terrorist attacks in India will stop if Indian Muslims stop actively participating in them
Francois Gautier

French Journalist

Islam in India is different. It is the inheritor of a long tradition of Sufism – the blending of Vedanta and the best of Islam – and a certain philosophy of acceptance. I remember when I was covering Kashmir in the late seventies, one could still see remnants of that tradition and observe Hindus and Muslims worshipping in dargahs and visiting each other’s homes during their respective religious festivals.

Then the Sunni Wahabite influence, via the Paksitani and Afghan jehadis, who supplanted the early JKLF movement, seeped in and everything changed for the worst. I was there in 1995 when the last Sufi shrine – the magnificent Chrar-e-Sharif, tomb of Sheikh Nuruddin, which was a sumptuous brick-and-cedar building with architectural and aesthetic roots right out of Central Asia – was burnt to the ground.

Though it has been rebuilt now, its destruction signalled the end of Sufism and tolerance in Kashmir. The 300,000 Kashmiri Hindus who had to flee their ancestral homeland are the living testimony of it.

For a long time, the present Indian government has been able to blame the successive terrorists attacks – Jaipur, Varanasi, Mumbai train blasts, Hyderabad, etc. – on the ISI or Bangaldeshi outfits and get away with it. The Delhi blasts signal the end of the charade and for the first time – barring the Ahmedabad blasts, where the Centre did not have much to do with the investigations – it was recognised that they were the handiwork of Indian Muslims.

Yet, the Indian government went on with the same pattern it used repeatedly after a terrorist attack in the last four years: (a) condemn ‘in the strongest terms’ this ‘barbarous act’; (b) appeal for calm and ‘communal harmony’; (c) give a few lakhs each to the families of the deceased or injured, so that they shut-up; and (d) never catch the culprits and go on as before till the next terrorist act.

But look at America, the most hated and targeted country in the world: it has not suffered a single terrorist attack since September 11, 2001. Which Indian politician will have the courage to call a spade a spade and tackle terrorism with courage and determination?

Does the UPA think that the common citizen of India is a nitwit and does not understand that Manmohan Singh or Sonia Gandhi have never pronounced once the word ‘Islamic terrorism’ not only because of the matter of vote banks in times of coming elections, but also because of the fact that politicians in India want to keep a blindfold on their citizens and pretend that nothing is happening?

Muslims should also realise that their Hindu brothers and sisters are angry now. Hindus gave refuge to all persecuted minorities of the world – from the Parsis, to the Jews (India is the only country in the world where Jews were not persecuted) to the Armenians, and the Tibetans today. The first Christian community in the world, that of the Syrian Christians, flourished in Kerala, thanks to Hindu tolerance; Arab merchants were welcomed by Hindu rulers to do trade and live in India, while freely practicing their religion, from very early times. It’s a pity that these two communities turned against their Hindus brothers and sisters, the former by way of lured conversions, and the latter with bloody invasions.

Ultimately, Islam in India can still preserve its difference, show the rest of the world that Muslims can live in peace with their brother and sisters and practice an Islam which is faithful to its own creed, while accepting other religions. But for that, terrorists attacks have to stop in India – and they will if Indian Muslims stop participating actively in them.

Islam cannot be wished away. As Sri Aurobindo said, “Mohammed’s mission was necessary, else we might have ended by thinking, in the exaggeration of our efforts at self-purification, that earth was meant only for the monk and the city created as a vestibule for the desert”.

Thus, Indian Muslims have to keep their faith and any attempt by Hindus to convert them back is not only futile but counterproductive. But the question to be asked to them is: what kind of Islam do you want to practice? An Islam which looks westwards, towards a foreign city, the Mecca, swears by a scripture, the Koran, which is not only not relevant to India, but which was meant for people living 1,500 years ago, in a language which is not Indian ? Or do they want to practice an Islam which is ‘Indianised’, which accepts the reality of other Gods, as Hinduism and Buddhism accept that there have been other avatars than Ram or Buddha.

Do India Muslims want to worship Babar, a man who destroyed everything which was good, beautiful and holy and lived by the power of violence, or do they want to imbibe the qualities of Ram, who believed in the equality of all, who gave-up all riches and honours of the world because he thought his brother deserved the throne more than him?

The volcano of Hindu fury erupts sometimes

Fran�ois Gautier

Source : The NEWINDPRESS

INSTEAD of calling an all-party meet to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir row, the government would do well to try to understand the fury of Hindus and not limit the scope of the introspection to the Amarnath issue. Are Hindus angry only with the hypocrisy of the government on the land issue? Are there no other topics that make them furious?

Hindus are a peace-loving people. The average Hindu is easy-going and accepts you and your diversity, whether you are Christian, Muslim, Parsi or Jain, Arab, French or Chinese. He goes about his business and usually does not interfere in yours. In fact they take it a little further: They hate trouble and go out of their way to avoid it.

Everywhere in the world, on the other hand, Hindus are hounded and humiliated; be it in Fiji where an elected government was twice deposed in an armed coup, or in Pakistan and Bangladesh, where Muslims target Hindus every time they want to vent their anger against India (read Taslima Nasreen�s book Lajja). There were one million Hindus in the valley of Kashmir in 1900. Only a few hundred are left today, the rest having been forced to flee through terror. In Assam, Tripura, or Nagaland, Hindus are being outnumbered by Bangladeshi illegal immigrants and terrorised by pro-Christian separatist groups, such as the Bodos or the Mizos, while local governments often turn a blind eye. Their temples are being taken over in states like Kerala or Karnataka, the donations appropriated by the state governments.

Yet in 3,500 years of known existence, Hindus have never invaded another country and never tried to impose their religion upon others. No, it has rather been through peaceful invasions that Hinduism has stormed the world, whether in the East, witness Angkor Wat, or in the West today, where the byproducts of Hinduism, yoga, meditation, ayurveda, pranayama have been adopted by millions.

Hindus also gave refuge to all persecuted minorities of the world.It�s a pity that these two communities turned against their Hindu brethren , the former by way of lured conversions, and the latter with bloody invasions.

Hindus, who accept everybody and welcome all religions, are mocked and bombs are planted in their markets, their trains and temples are attacked, they are chased out of their homelands; television and newspapers make fun of them, their own politicians ostracise them.

So, sometimes, Enough is Enough. At some point, Hindus, the most peace-loving people in the world, those Mahatma Gandhi once called gently �cowards�, erupt in fury � uncontrolled fury.

Yes, one should condemn the Gujarat pogrom, but one should look also at the causes. It is not only the 36 innocent Hindu women and children who were burnt to death in a train by a mob of criminals. It is also how much silent frustration and anger must have built over the years, decades, or centuries even, amongst Gujarati Hindus, that in one moment, 1,25.000 Hindus, normal, peaceful people, came out on the streets of Ahmedabad with such fury.

The same thing is true of Jammu and the Amarnath issue. Hindus never complain about their government giving billion of rupees to Indian Muslims for the pilgrimage to Mecca. But when Hindus need shelters, toilets and basic facilities at a height of 15,000 feet to worship at Amarnath, it is denied by the same government. So they erupt in fury.

Instead of appealing for calm and communal harmony, instead of giving us all this eyewash about a 500-year-old Dargah �mostly patronised by Hindus� political leaders, journalists, and spiritual leaders, would do well to look at the root cause of Hindu fury, and try to address their frustrations.

Journalists should also do a little bit of introspection. Hindus have had enough. If this government, or the next, does not take note of their frustrations, we might very well see more Jammus erupting in the coming months and years.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

ALSO READ HIS EARLIER POST ON THE SAME SUBJECT FROM PARIS

Unity, not separation, is the answer
Tuesday July 1 2008 08:17 IST

Source: The Newindpress

READING in Paris about Kashmiri Muslims rioting because of land transferred to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) and the People’s Democratic Party pulling out of the Jammu and Kashmir Government coalition, one feels a little bit surprised. The Amarnath pilgrimage is an ancient tradition and after all, Kashmir,much before some of the inhabitants of the Valley were converted to Islam, is the seat of Shaivism, the place where thousands of yogis, sadhus, holy men, prayed, meditated and often attained realisation, for at least 3,000 years.

Millions of devotees have flocked to Armanath over the centuries — and Muslims from Kashmir should show them generosity, because in India, although Muslims have been a minority since the beginning, Hindus have always respected the religion of Islam. Indeed, Muslims in India have had a freedom that Hindus or Christians do not enjoy in Saudia Arabia or Pakistan.

Furthermore, Indian Muslims returning from the Gulf, have built, in the last 20 years, tens of thousands of mosques, thanks to Gulf money, often with land donated by the Indian Government and without the Hindus ever protesting. Kashmir is also the land of Sufism, where the best of Islam and Vedanta blended, which allowed many generations of Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims to worship together in mosques and temples and attend each others’ festivals.

Unfortunately, after the creation of Pakistan, a hard Sunni fundamentalism has entered the Valley, mainly with Pakistani and Afghan jihadis, and four lakh Kashmiri Hindus have been forced by death, terror and violence, to flee the valley of their ancestors, one of the biggest ethnic cleansings in human history. Sitting in Paris, one wonders if it is worth it for India to fight for Kashmir.

After all, both Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh have hinted time and again that self-determination could be a solution. But all those who have covered Kashmir extensively, like myself, know that 98 per cent of the Valley would vote to separate from India and eventually land in Pakistan’s lap.

This leads to the next question: should India surrender to international pressure and let Kashmiris decide their own fate? Well it all depends on the Indian people’s determination. Each nation has, or has had in the past, a separatist problem.

Today, the Spanish have the Basques, the French the Corsicans, or the Turkish the Kurds. Amnesty International will continue to lambast India over human rights violations. But has Amnesty the right to decide what is right or wrong for each nation?

Can India let itself be dragged into this mire? Why should India, which took so long to unite itself and saw at the departure of the British one-third of its land given away to Pakistan, surrender Kashmir? The evolution of our earth tends towards unity, oneness, towards the breaking up of our absurd borders, the abolishing of passports, bureaucracies, no man’s lands; not towards the building up of new borders, new customs barriers, new smaller nations.

India cannot let herself be broken up in bits just to satisfy the West’s moralistic concerns. To preserve her Dharma, India has to remain united, even conquer again, whether by force or by peaceful means, what once was part of her South Asian body. For this she should not surrender Kashmir, it could be the beginning of the breaking up of India. Still in Paris, reading the BBC’s coverage of the Amarnath episode, any Indian lover such as myself can only be appalled. Reports of the BBC on Amarnath always speak about “Indian-administered Kashmir”, never giving the full picture of Hindus being forced to flee the Valley, nor of the sacredness of this ancient pilgrimage for all Hindus.

It reminds me when we were covering Kashmir in the Nineties, how the BBC always scoffed at the Indian Government’s accusation that Pakistan was sheltering, sponsoring and arming Kashmiri militants, which it was sending back across the border to create havoc. The accusation has been proved true, but, of course, the BBC never apologised for its partiality.

It’s arrogance and hypocrisy, of course, because we all know how the British decided to go all the way to the end of the world to retain the Falkland Islands, killing many innocent Argentinians in the process.

Indeed the BBC is a state within a state: recently a BBC journalist did a feature on Auroville, the international city near Puducherry based on Sri Aurobindo’s ideals, making accusations of of paedophilia. In spite of numerous protests by residents of Auroville, and the fact that there is no paedophile in their midst, the BBC never apologised. Finally, Kashmir, the Valley of all absurdities, atrocities and human cruelty, could also become the land of hope and redemption, if only the Muslims of Kashmir would understand that their forefathers were Hindus, who must have suffered a lot during invasions by Turk or Afghan warlords, often converting out of fear or necessity.

If only Muslims in Kashmir would understand that Hindus are their brothers and sisters and that although Hinduism and Islam are so different, only Hinduism recognises the divinity of other religions, the avatarhood of other prophets — not Christianity or even Buddhism. If only Kashmiri Muslims would allow Sufism to make a comeback in the Valley, would permit the spirit of Bhakti, of devotion, of tolerance and acceptance of other creeds to re-enter the Islam which is practised in the Valley, it could not only save Kashmir, allow the return of their four lakh Hindu brothers and sisters, but it might help Islam to regenerate itself, open its dogmas to a world which has changed enormously since the Koran was written 1,500 years ago and save itself from the path of confrontation with the West on which it is embarked at this moment.

The author, a journalist and writer, is editor-in- chief of La Revue de l’Inde.

E-mail: fgautier@sify.com

France and the nuclear deal :: Francois Gautier

France and the nuclear deal :: Francois Gautier

July 14, 2008

Today is July 14, France’s [Images] National Day, and it would be interesting to have a fresh look at Indo-French relations and how they impact the nuclear deal with the United States. As expressed on television and newspaper interviews by the French ambassador in India, Jerome Bonnafont, France endorses the controversial Indo-US nuclear pact “which is good for India”.

France is of course eagerly awaiting its signature, so that it can try to sell to India its nuclear technology and maybe one or two nuclear plants. But what France also does not say, is that it silently thinks that India, contrary to the five declared nuclear powers, is not a mature and wise enough nation to handle military nuclear technology and that it agrees with the US that India’s military nuclear programme be capped so as to profit only civil nuclear energy.

For if you read in between the lines of the G8 chairman’s statement at the end of last week’s three-day summit (‘We look forward to working with India, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Nuclear Suppliers Group and other partners to advance India’s non-proliferation commitments and progress’), the safeguards agreement will ‘definitely not’ permit spare parts or fuel — even in the event of any shortage — to be transferred between nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards and those outside it as part of India’s weapons programme.

We have also seen that finally, after a much publicised show of bravado, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has agreed to attend the opening of the Beijing [Images] Olympics [Images]. Under Chinese pressure, he will also probably not officially meet the Dalai Lama [Images] when His Holiness goes to France in August. One has to understand the dilemma of the French president: Paris has invested massively in China and the heads of France’s conglomerates have been after him to rectify his attitude post the Olympic flame fiasco in France.

Fair enough. But then India should ask four questions of Sarkozy:

1) How is it that France is only the seventh investor in India, far behind the US, Germany [Images], or even Korea, when contrary to China, India is a pro-Western democracy, an island of freedom and liberalism in an Asia torn by Islamic fundamentalism (witness the recent bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul) and by China’s hegemonic tendencies which are felt from Burma to Nepal, from Taiwan to Arunachal Pradesh?

2) Why did France recognise China’s sovereignty over Tibet [Images], a nation with an independent culture and religion, more than 10 years ago when it refuses to extend the same right to India over Kashmir, which has been historically and geographically a part of India for at least 5000 years and is the seat of Shivaism?

3) India does not question the fact that Paris feels that Corsica belongs to France, though it is an island. India does not contest that the Basque is Spanish territory; India did not say anything when the British went thousands of miles to fight for the Falklands, when geographically it belongs to Argentina… Then why the hell is the Western world — and France — contesting India’s right over Kashmir? Like not trusting India to handle nuclear military technology, it does seem to spring from an unconscious sentiment of superiority…

But then France might very well answer that it understands India’s concerns over Kashmir, but that it does not want to upset the Indo-Pak dialogue (which actually is only on paper, as Pakistan has betrayed every peace move made by India). But in truth, the French are actually falling for the Pakistani nuclear blackmail of an attack on India. Is that why, India could again ask France, you continue to sell arms to Pakistan? It might also well be that France does not want to antagonise parts of its volatile Muslim minority, although this also seems to be a bit of a fallacious argument.

Yet, President Sarkozy is a man of vision and is not afraid to break conventions, as he has shown in his private and public life. If he would make the gesture (which would cost him nothing) of recognising India’s right over Kashmir as France did to China over Tibet, it would earn France immense gratitude in India for it would be a first: it would pave the way for greater economic cooperation between India and France and it would give France a bargaining chip with China who is always blackmailing her (and other Western nations) by saying it will cancel its Airbus orders and buy Boeings (and vice-versa) whenever it is displeased. Because the moment France diversifies its investments in Asia to India, China would feel the pinch.

Lastly, it would pave the way for a political and military cooperation between Europe and India and recognise — at last India’s immense geopolitical importance in Asia.

Ah, I can already see the faces of my friends in the French embassy in Delhi: “Oh, again this right-wing Hindu lover, this fundamentalist, this anti-Muslim, is at it”. But France, its diplomats in India and its Indologists should do well to come out of their glass towers if they want to stay in tune with 21st century Asia. They should firstly accept diversity of opinion over India and not only see India through the eternal clich s of the India specialists in France who for decades have associated India in the minds of French people with poverty, castes, Hindu ‘fundamentalists’ and ‘oppressed’ minorities. The French embassy in Delhi should thus seek a diversity of opinion among those who have lived in India for long and know India well, so that it properly reflects to the French government in Paris the incredible and complicated diversity that is India.

And once more the question has to be asked of France: why don’t you recognise Kashmir as you recognise Tibet? Then India need not sign a nuclear treaty with the US, which will bind her politically and economically to the Americans for two decades. France would be an excellent nuclear, economic and political partner for India and it would help preserve a bipolar world, where Corsica, Tibet and Kashmir remain in the fold of their mother nations, while enjoying true autonomy.

Francois Gautier

Years of violence

Author: Francois Gautier

Publication: The Pioneer
Date: August 6, 2003Do you know the real history of Kashmir? There is a great deal of misconception among the people about the State: That Kashmir did not always belong to India, or that it is a “disputed area”. This is why we recently at FACT (Forum Against Continuing Terrorism) chose to hold an exhibition at the India Habitat Centre, which was a great success. Here are some of the facts we highlighted through the photographic exhibition.For two thousand years, the Himalayan Valley of Kashmir in Northern India has been the home of learning and wisdom. From this small Valley have emanated masterpieces of history, poetry, romance, fable, and philosophy. Many of the greatest Sanskrit scholars and poets were born and wrote in the Valley. Kashmir flourished under some of India’s greatest rulers such as the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, who reigned between 273 and 233 BC, and is recorded to have founded the old city of Srinagar. It was under his sovereignty that many Buddhist scholars, missionaries, and intellectuals permanently settled in the Valley. Then there was the great Hindu King Harshavardhan (1089 to 1101 AD) who was versed in many languages, was a good poet himself, a lover of music and the arts. He had made his court a centre of luxury, learning and splendour.

Unfortunately, at the beginning of 14th century, a ferocious Mongol warlord, Dulucha, invaded the Valley from its northern side, Zojila Pass, with an army of 60,000 men. His savage attack ended for all purposes the Hindu rule in Kashmir, and Dulucha is said to have destroyed many temples and killed thousands of Hindus. Muslim rule was further tightened in 1389, during the rule of Sultan Sikandar. He banned all celebrations and would not even listen to music. He imposed jizia (tax on infidels) upon Hindus and stopped them from using tilak on their foreheads. Almost all the Muslim chroniclers of that time speak of wholesale destruction of Hindu shrines, including the famed Martand Temple, and forcible conversion of Hindus to Islam. Thousands of Hindus fled southwards to the plains of India to save their religion and holy books, and also to escape the wrath of the Sultan.

Then, after a period of relative tolerance and peace, came the rule of Afghans warlords till 1819 – roughly, a period of 67 years. The very first Afghan governor Abdullah Khan Aquasi, immediately after assuming powers, began his reign of terror. People were looted and killed indiscriminately, and even soldiers began to amass wealth beyond imagination. Fortunately, in 1819, 30,000 soldiers of Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh attacked Kashmir, defeated the Pathans, and Kashmir became a part of Ranjit Singh’s empire for nearly 40 years, providing some relief to Hindus in the process. However, the British defeated the Sikhs and became the undisputed masters of India. Not interested in Kashmir, they sold it in perpetuity for Rs 75 lakh (approximately $150,000) to Maharaja Gulab Singh of the Dogra dynasty. (What wonderful merchants, the British, who sell something which does not even belong to them!)

By treaty, conquest, or inter-marriages, the Dogras created a state comprising five major units, which are fundamentally very different from each other in terms of geography and ethnicity and have further complicated the problems of Kashmir: The territory around Gilgit (today in Pakistan), which belongs basically to Central Asia; Ladakh, which is an extension of Tibet and is peopled at 55 per cent by the Buddhists and 45 per cent by Muslims; the area around Muzaffarabad, which is today in Pakistan’s control, comprises mostly Punjabi Muslims; Jammu, which in essence belongs to Himachal Pradesh and is Hindu in majority; and the Valley of Kashmir, of course, which was Indian Muslim at 95 per cent in 1947.

India gained its independence in 1947 but was disastrously divided by the British, against the advice of saints and seers such as Sri Aurobindo, along religious lines into India and Pakistan. Although many Muslims chose to stay back in India, knowing they would be granted the freedom of practicing their own religion, most Hindus had to flee Pakistan as they were being slaughtered mercilessly. Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir decided to attach his state to free and secular India. Furious, the Pakistan Government invaded Kashmir, and encouraged the Muslim tribal people to carry loot, plunder, death and destruction into the hearths and homes of innocent Kashmiris in general and among Hindus in particular.

Since 1947, Pakistan, aided by China, which also claims parts of Indian territory (well, Mr Vajpayee, you got led up the garden path by the Chinese, like other prime ministers before you!), has initiated three wars to regain Indian Kashmir, and four if you include the Kargil war fought in the icy reaches of upper Kashmir. Worse, the proxy war which Pakistan is today waging on India by arming, training and financing not only Kashmiri separatists, but also Islamic militants from Afghanistan, or even faraway Sudan, has taken the lives of nearly 60,000 innocent people, both Hindus and Muslims.

It should be added that Pakistan decided in the late 1980s that it would be easier to regain Kashmir if all its Hindus were pushed out by a campaign of terror, both in the Valley, where they are a tiny minority and in Jammu where they still have a thin majority. Thus 450,000 Kashmiri Pandits, constituting 99 per cent of the total population of Hindus living in the Kashmir Valley, have been forcibly pushed out of their homes by terrorists. Since 1989, they have been forced to live like exiles in their own country.

People should also be reminded that terrorism in Kashmir is not about separatism alone; it is also an ideological struggle with specific fundamentalist and communal agenda. Terrorist violence aims at the disengagement of the State of Jammu & Kashmir from India and its annexation to Pakistan. It is a continuation of the Islamic fundamentalist struggle.

Finally, I would like to thank all those who contributed to FACT and helped make the exhibition on Kashmiri Pandits at the India Habitat Centre a success. We are pursuing our efforts further. The exhibition will now travel to Bangalore at the end of August. Thereafter, on September 10, we have been invited to Poland for a conference, ‘World Without Aggression’, which will take place in the main Warsaw Congress Hall, which seats 3,000 people, in the presence of the President of Poland and many VIPs.