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With Crackdown on Yasin Malik, India Has Officially Acknowledged Genocide of Kashmiri Pandits

File photo of Yasin Malik. (Image: Reuters)

File photo of Yasin Malik. (Image: Reuters)

Yasin Malik and several other members of his outfit have been accused of heinous crimes such as targeted killings, gang rapes, assaults and arson to drive Kashmiri Pandits out of the Valley.

The tweet of Mehbooba Mufti condemning the arrest of dreaded terrorist Yasin Malik and ban on JKLF was a surprise if not a shock. She was defending a man and his organisation that had kidnapped and threatened to kill her sister.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable.” This thought has been most abused by the self-claimed Gandhian, Yasin Malik. The name still brings the chills to Kashmiri Pandits and the victims of his terror acts. He, along with members of JKLF, unleashed terror on the minuscule minority community of Kashmiri Pandits. He and several other members of his outfit have been accused of heinous crimes such as targeted killings, gang rapes, assaults and arson to drive Kashmiri Pandits out of the Valley.

Hundreds of Pandits were killed, raped and tortured in a way that this country had never seen before. The government of the day looked away, giving him and his men a free hand to continue the genocide of Kashmiri Pandits.

With the Farooq Abdullah government turning a blind eye, Yasin and his men dared to successfully kidnap the daughter of then home minister Mufti Mohammed Syed. The kidnapping brought down to its knees the weak central government headed by VP Singh and they released five dreaded terrorists as part of the ransom agreement. The release was a watershed in the insurgency in Kashmir. It opened up the floodgates to the subsequent genocide of Kashmiri Pandits. Yasin and his men were so emboldened that within a few days of the release of their fellow terrorists, they went ahead and shot dead four unarmed Air Force personnel who were waiting for a bus to go to work.

By the end of January 1990, Yasin Malik and his JKLF had ensured that the Valley was bereft of Kashmiri Pandits. Newspapers carried advertisements by terrorists, threatening the Hindus of the Valley to leave in 72 hours or face the consequences. Posters were pasted outside homes of Pandit families with threats that their womenfolk would be kidnapped, raped and converted if they did not leave. As a part of this agenda, Sarla Bhat, a nurse at Kashmir’s premier medical institution SKIMS, was gang-raped and cut to pieces, political leader Tikkalal Taploo, Justice Ganjoo, and the then Doordarshan Kendra director Lassa Kaul — all of them were murdered in broad daylight. The list of killing and rapes runs into hundreds.

The man after seeing his objective of driving Pandits away from Kashmir fulfilled somehow found a way to befool the government and avoid punishment. He declared that he turned “Gandhian” to continue his struggle against India. So enamoured were few media houses with his newfound love for Gandhi that they even called him a youth icon. The government continued to turn a blind eye to his crimes and awarded him with a passport. He travelled to Pakistan with this passport and shared the stage with Hafiz Saeed, the chief of the same organisation that has bled India dry — Lashkar-e-Toiba.

But how long can a chameleon hide his true colours? At a 2009 event on Kashmir in Delhi, Yasin Malik thundered, “Give us independence or don’t hold us responsible if we pick up the guns again.”

This statement violated the basic thought of Gandhian ways of non-violence. Gandhi’s dislike for violence was so severe that he halted the successful non-cooperation movement on the national level in 1922, the moment it turned violent at Chauri-Chaura. But this self-claimed Gandhian continued to wage a war against India, by instigating stone pelting, arson and rioting in 2010. The stone pelting incidents in 2010 led to the death of more than a hundred.

He led the mobs in destroying and burning government buildings and schools and in attacking security forces. The act was repeated with the same impunity in 2016. Yasin Malik, who is part of the infamous JRL (Joint Resistance Leadership) of Kashmir, has endorsed every act of terror by the terrorists of JeM, LeT, Hizbul and other terrorist groups in Kashmir. While protests have been called to mourn the death of terrorists, the same JRL has kept mum on the death of innocent civilians by terrorist groups.

Yasin Malik has always maintained the he is proud of the fact that he took up the gun because without that, the Kashmir issue would not have gained attention. Not even once has he expressed remorse for his actions and never condemned the reign of terror unleashed by other terror groups. In an interview with a foreign news channel, he proudly defended the killing of the air force officers, calling them his enemies. The enemy being the Indian state. This Gandhian romanticises power of the gun, violence and deaths.

In this context, the drafting of the statement issued by Home Secretary Rajeev Gauba, while announcing a ban on his outfit, is welcome. The fact that he acknowledged, “Yasin Malik was the mastermind behind the purging of Kashmiri Pundits from the Kashmir Valley and is responsible for their genocide,” is a huge step forward. It is perhaps for the first time that India has officially acknowledged what happened to us as a ‘genocide’ and we hope this won’t be the last step in exposing people like him and giving us long overdue justice.

(Author is Spokesperson, Roots in Kashmir. Views are personal)