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Panun Kashmir (Kashmiri: पनुन कश्मीर (Devanagari), پنون کشمیر (Nastaleeq)) is an organisation of displaced Kashmiri Pandits (Kashmiri Hindus) founded in December 1990 in Jammu, in order to demand that a separate homeland for Kashmir's Hindu population be carved out of the overwhelmingly Muslim Valley of Kashmir. Almost the entire Pandit population was expelled from Kashmir in 1990 by separatist militants for their allegedly pro-India political beliefs.

Origin and Etymology

Panun Kashmir means our own Kashmir in Kashmiri. The Panun Kashmir organization was founded in 1990 after the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits from the Indian state of Kashmir, under threat from Islamic terrorists allegedly managed by Pakistan's intelligence services. According to external estimates between 150,000 to 300,000 Hindus were expelled as a result of this ethnic cleansing[1][2], Panun Kashmir estimates are even higher at nearly 700,000 people [3].

Grievances

Panun Kashmir believes that Kashmir's Hindu culture is under threat from Muslim culture, separatists.[4].

The organization also believes that Hindus in Kashmir and Jammu have been discriminated against by Kashmiri authorities since 1949, and that Hindus have been neglected at the expense of appeasement of Muslims due to article 370, and various policies instituted by different Indian governments[5]. While it accepts that Kashmir's population is larger than Jammu's, it believes that Kashmir's dominance of politics in Jammu and Kashmir is a result of "minority appeasement," and not democratically elected majorities which would reflect the demographics of Kashmir[6].

Goals of Panun Kashmir

Kashmiri Hindus have demanded a separate state or union territory, as a means to protect themselves from attacks by separatist militants, while at the same time preserving Kashmiri Hindu culture[7]. The organization claims to:

[have] unshakable faith in the unity and integrity of India. It is wedded to secularism, democracy, rule of law and respect for all religious faiths. It is opposed to communalism, religious fundamentalism and terrorism in any form or guise[8].

The organization also wishes for displaced Hindus to be termed "refugees," rather than "migrants," which they allege is the term used by the state administration for their community[7]. Further, the organization claims that its goal is broad enough to not only encompass the cause of Kashmir's Hindus, but also India's very survival and territorial integrity[7].

Panun Kashmir recognizes Kashmir's Muslim majority as formerly Hindu, who were "forced to convert to Islam"[9]. Despite the belief that Kashmir's Muslim community is essentially the same as Kashmir's Hindu population, except that they were allegedly forced to convert to Islam, Panun Kashmir wishes that Kashmir's existing Hindu population be considered the sole native inhabitants of Kashmir[10]. The organization claims that Kashmir's Muslim community has descended from Hindus that were forced into Islam, thereby resulting in the Hindu population of Kashmir becoming a minority because they were either killed or forced out of Kashmir, while the Muslim population grew as invading armies settled Muslims in the Valley[11].

Proposed Homeland

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The organization passed a resolution in 1991 demanding that:

(a) the establishment of a Homeland for the Kashmiri Hindus in the Valley of Kashmir comprising the regions of the Valley to the East and North of river Jhelum.

(b) that the Constitution of India be made applicable in letter and spirit in this Homeland in order to ensure right to life, liberty, freedom of expression and faith, equality and rule of law.

(c) that the Homeland be placed under the Central administration with a Union Territory status; and

(d) that all the seven hundred thousand Kashmiri Hindus, including those who have been driven out of Kashmir in the past and yearn to return to their homeland and those who were forced to leave on account of terrorist violence in Kashmir, be settled in the homeland on an equitable basis with dignity and honor[8].

That is, Panun Kashmir's advocates wish for the majority of the valley of Kashmir, including major [Muslim] cities such as Srinagar, Anantnag, Sopore, Baramulla, Varmul, and Awantipora be included in the Kashmiri Hindu homeland. While such a homeland would be created as a homeland for Kashmiri Hindus, the Valley of Kashmir, with a population of over 4,000,000 is estimated to be 95% Muslim, and only 4% Hindu[12], so the proposed Hindu homeland would actually have a Muslim-majority. However, the organization claims that it in fact does not seek a "Hindu Homeland," rather, it seeks a homeland for Kashmiri Pandits, who "just happen to be Hindu"[13].

The organization believes that it is upholding its commitment to inter-religious peace by ceding its claims to the whole of the Valley of Kashmir, in order to prevent further alienation of Muslim communities from India[14]. The organizations also believes the Kashmiri Pandits have rights over the entire region of Kashmir, and addresses this issue in a pamphlet entitled "Why a separate portion as Homeland when whole of valley belongs to us?"[14]

Criticisms

Panun Kashmir claims to be an organization that upholds secularism, while at the same time rejecting communalism[15], however questions in regards to the organizations respect for other religions, and dedication to secularism and rejection of communalism have been called into question. The organization's own website makes some remarks that are anti-Muslim, and communal in nature, such as:

"The Kashmiri Hindus have already committed the mistake of trusting their Muslim counterparts five times in the past."[16]

"How long can the minority Hindu community live in bondage and at the mercy and whim of the Muslim majority?"[17]

Panun Kashmir also allies itself with Hindu nationalist and anti-Muslim parties such as the Shiv Sena, and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, despite claiming to be secular and anti-communal[18]. Various editorials put forth by the organization also hint at anti-Muslim attitudes, and the organization also allied itself with Hindu fundamentalist groups in support of the 2008 economic blockade of Kashmir by Hindu groups[18].

The organization is also criticized for claiming that in actuality, the entire valley of Kashmir "belongs" to the Hindu community[19]. Furthermore, the organization claims 700,000 Hindus were forced to flee Kashmir, although it provides no documentation or evidence in support of this number. The United States' Central Intelligence Agency fact book states of India's 600,000 internally displaced persons, about 50%, or 300,000 are Kashmiri Hindus[2]. Kashmiri affairs expert Professor Alexander Evans estimates that the entire pre-1990 Hindu population in Kashmir was about 175,000. [1] Panun Kashmir's figure of 700,000 refugees would suggest that between 20%-25% of Kashmir's pre-1990 population was Hindu, a figure which is not supported by any official Indian census figure.


References

External links

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bn:পানুন কাশ্মীর ca:Panun Kashmir hi:पनुन कश्मीर

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