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Kashmiri Hindus demand the enactment of ‘Genocide Bill’. Here is everything you need to know

Panun Kashmir. an organisation fighting for the resettlement of Kashmiri Hindus, had proposed a bill for the recognition of the genocide orchestrated by the radical Islamists.

For years, the denial of the Kashmir Hindus genocide has been ossified into the collective psyche of the country. With the help of silence, apathy, counter-narratives, and conspiracy theories that pass the buck of the exodus on to the victims, the perpetrators have never been held accountable.

The issue of the Kashmiri Hindus exodus, and the genocide they endured, was treated like a political hot potato. No political party or the eminent civil society members bothered to speak the truth, or raise their voice in support of the persecuted minorities.

Even when they mustered the courage to speak on the atrocities faced by the Kashmiri Hindus, their efforts were in accordance with the “secular” narrative. The narrative that refrains from holding Islamism in the Valley responsible for the fate of the Kashmiri Hindus.

Panun Kashmir’s genocide bill: A long awaited decision

‘Panun Kashmir’, an organisation fighting for the resettlement and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Hindus, had proposed a bill for the recognition of the genocide orchestrated by the radical Islamists in the early 90s. The draft of the bill was released on December 28, 2019, and was named, ‘Panun Kashmir Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Bill 2020‘.

“To help prevent acts of genocide and other atrocity crimes, which threaten national and international security, by enhancing State of India and its Government capacities to prevent, mitigate, and respond to such Crises,” the objective of the Bill read.

It stated that India was a party to the United Nation’s Convention on Prevention and Punishment of Crime of Genocide in 1959, but did not enact any law on it. “It has been a resolute and consistent view of Panun Kashmir that Government of India accepts the campaign of destruction and violence against the Hindus of Kashmir, leading to the religious cleansing of Kashmiris as an act of genocide since it fulfills all the criteria laid down by the UN Convention on Genocide,” it added.

The proposed bill sought to penalise genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, attempt to genocide and complicity in genocide. The Panun Kashmir Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Bill 2020 further proposed varying degrees of punishment, ranging from life imprisonment to death penalty, for aiding, abetting or committing genocide.

The said bill recognised the notion of ‘cultural genocide’ and ‘economic genocide’. It also called for the creation of a catalogue of all the Kashmiri Hindu religious places within the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

‘Panun Kashmir’ sought the constitution of a 15-member Governing Board to serve as the apex authority for the administration of the Act. The powers and duties of the Board are listed as:

  • General matters concerning all Hindu religious places in Kashmir Division shall be handled and attended to by the Governing Board in accordance with the provisions of this Act and rules and regulations framed there under.
  • It shall be the duty of the Governing Board to ensure that every Prabandhak Committee elected to deal with all or any of the matters specified in this Act, performs its duties and functions in accordance with the provision of this Act or the Rules, made there under.
  • The general administration and superintendence over all such committees under the provisions of this Act shall in the Governing Board.

“The Governing Board may after the approval by simple majority of the total strength of the Governing Board by notification make rules to carry out the purposes of this Act,” it emphasised.

The proposed bill also laid down provisions for the establishment of a 9-member ‘Prabandhak Committee’ in every tehsil of the Kashmir Division of the Union territory. The committees would develop, manage and control religious places of worship, owned or entrusted to the Kashmiri Hindu genocide survivors.

‘Panun Kashmir Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Bill 2020’ also sought the constitution of a Genocide Commission within 30 days of the commencement of the Act.

The Commission should have a Chief Commissioner (Supreme Court judge/ Chief Justice of High Court), and 2 Commissioners appointed by the Union Government. Some of the key functions of the Genocide Commission are listed below:

  • Determine the causes which culminated in a genocide.
  • Assist aggrieved persons in seeking legal remedies provided under this Act
  • Constitute an independent Inquiry Committee consisting of 5-members to determine, or identify the perpetrators, connivance of investigating authority, complacency, if any ,of any or a government agency or authority.
  • Conduct Nuremberg type trials to bring the perpetrators of genocide to justice.
  • Declare all sale of properties, post the forced exodus, whether religious, residential, agricultural, commercial, institutional, educational or any other immoveable property as null and void.
  • Conduct a census of Hindus of Kashmir who have been victims/ survivor /survivors of genocides present and past and putting up in various parts of India and elsewhere if need be, central government will provide all assistance whether human resources, scientific testing, laboratories or any other resource required for the census.

The proposed bill stated that the Supreme Court would have original jurisdiction in matters pertaining to the Act. “Any person aggrieved by any order of the commission may file an appeal against the order in Supreme Court within 45 days from the date on which the order was passed,” it concluded.

‘Panun Kashmir’ hopes to capitalise on growing public support for Kashmiri Hindus

Ever since the release of ‘The Kashmir Files’ on March 11 this year, there has been a surge in public support for the Kashmiri Hindus. The movie is inspired by the true stories of Kashmiri Pandits. It takes viewers back to 1989, when conflict erupted in Kashmir due to rising Islamic Jihad, forcing the great majority of Hindus to flee the valley.

According to estimates, roughly 100,000 of the valley’s total 140,000 Kashmiri Pandit inhabitants migrated between February and March 1990. More of them fled in the years that followed, until just about 3,000 families remained in the valley by 2011.

While speaking to Opindia, ‘Panun Kashmir’ activist Tito Ganju stated, “Kashmiri Hindu community has been raising their voice with great resilience since 1991 under the movement of Panun Kashmir.”

Furthermore, he added, “Panun Kashmir has played a vital role in exposing Jihadi terrorism in India, and worldwide through various campaigns, press conferences, conventions, protests and representations with consecutive governments of India. They have been at the forefront of awakening the civilisational consciousness of India and building narratives about the truth of Articles 370 and 35A demanding their abrogation since 1991 itself.”

“These narratives have galvanised and shown results over a period of 3 decades. Especially after the release of the film ‘The Kashmir Files’, the nation has finally started listening to the voice of Kashmiri Hindus. Therefore it becomes a necessity for people to give their full support to the demands of Kashmiri Hindus. The pre-requisite of such demands being Enactment of the mentioned Genocide Bill proposed by Panun Kashmir,” Tito Ganju added.

As a concerned reader, you can extend your support to the long-standing demand for the ‘Panun Kashmir Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Bill 2020’ by digitally signing the petition. The online petition has so far received over 12000 signatures.

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Dutta
Centre-Right. Political analyst. Assistant Editor @Opindia. Reach me at [email protected]

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