DELIMITATION PROCESS ORDERED BY THE GOVT WILL SEAL OUR POLITICAL DIS-EMPOWERMENT
Union Government and the Government of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has issued orders to carry out the delimitation process in the UTJK based on the census data of 2011,whose figures are so flawed that if the process goes ahead, it will permanently dis-empower the displaced Kashmiri Pandits. After our exodus in 1989-90, two censuses were conducted, i.e., in 2001 and 2011. According to 2001 census, wherein no door to door survey was carried out, Kashmiri Hindus formed 1.84 % of Kashmir population. It further states that 1.5 lakh to 3 lakh Kashmiri Pandits were displaced to Jammu and other parts of India due to militancy.
In the 2011 census too, no door to door survey was conducted. But the records reveal that the population of Hindus in Kashmir stood at 1.64 lakhs, with a sex ratio as 10:1. This sex ratio, compared to national figure of 1000:940, is a complete farce. Under the circumstances, any delimitation carried out based on 2011 census will not represent this important government input truthfully. Such inputs are not merely used for determining the distribution of seats for election purposes but also for implementation of various govt/social welfare schemes.
The political dis-empowerment of Kashmiri Pandits has a long history, starting with the demographic assault launched on them ever since the Kashmiri Muslim majoritarian dominance of the erstwhile state’s power structure started in 1931. According to the Official census figures for 1941, Kashmiri Pandits formed 15 per cent of the population of Kashmir, as against 83 percent Muslims. However, these figures were wide off the mark. It was a well-known fact that those who conducted the censuses during the Dogra rule, were invariably junior Muslim officials, notorious for describing Kashmiri Pandit families as Muslim households. Actual
population of Kashmiri Pandits in 1941 must have been close to 25–30 per cent of the total population. Indeed, the census of 1941 was the first statistical assault on the Kashmiri Pandits in the valley;an ingenious ploy among other methods, used to reduce Kashmiri Pandits to non-entities.
Even after independence and accession of the State with India, Pandits remained as vulnerable as ever to the whims and fancies of Muslim majoritarianism. The old method of employing statistical assault on Kashmiri Pandit population in Kashmir can be gauged by the figures quoted by the state administration about the number of Kashmiri Pandits left in the valley after the 1947 Pakistani invasion of Kashmir; between 80,000 and 120,000; a figure way below the actual number. The whole aim of under-representing the Kashmiri Pandit population was to deny them their due share in the state legislature and in the government jobs. Sheikh Abdullah’s radical land reforms and his ambivalence, lack of economic opportunities for Pandits and political uncertainty had created such a sense of insecurity among the Pandits that 20 per cent of them had migrated to places outside the valley by 1950.
The census figures of 1981 put the Muslim population in the valley at 95 per cent, up from 83 per cent in 1941; whereas the corresponding Kashmiri Pandits population, placed at 124,000, was down to 5 per cent from 15 per cent, during the same period. The false figures quoted by the government stood exposed in 1989–90, when the number of Kashmiri Pandits who fled the valley was placed at over 450,000; nearly 300,000 of them were housed in refugee camps in Jammu, Delhi and elsewhere; 100,000 found place with relatives in various places in India; around 50,000 were still left in Kashmir before the end of 1990. Thereafter, the 1991 census put
the Pandits at 0.1 per cent of the population, which would translate to barely 3,000 people.
In 1947, with a population of nearly 15 per cent, Kashmiri Pandits had a considerable presence in at least six constituencies; four in Srinagar and two in Anantnag district. In fact, in the elections of 1952, 1962 and 1967, Kashmiri Pandits had won from three constituencies: two from Srinagar and one from Anantnag district. Later,by altering the electoral boundaries of these and other constituencies, it was ensured that Pandits would not be able to elect a candidate of their choice from these constituencies. By 1972, they were left with one constituency of Pahalgam. Even here, the Pandits could not win this seat on their own strength.
Reservation for Muslims in education and employment, events of 1986 in South Kashmir and political mobilization on religious platform resorted to by the mainstream political parties, gave a further impetus to this Pandit exodus. However, Pandits have consistently questioned these figures as a deliberate attempt at under-assessing their numbers to marginalize them politically. Their claim is borne out by the fact that 450,000 Pandits fled the Valley in 1989–90.Prof Saifudin Soz, while a minister at the centre had said, ‘There are roughly 700,000 Kashmiri Pandits, with their largest concentration of nearly 300,000 in Jammu, 100,000 each in Delhi, other metro cities, different states, and 10,000 living abroad. Pre-1947 displaced Pandits are nearly 70,000 and present in the Valley are roughly 20,000.’ After the exodus of 1990, their numbers in the Valley fell sharply,and by 1991, Pandits constituted merely 0.1 per cent of Kashmir’s population. By 2010, the number of Pandits left there was less than 5,000.
As would be evident,their dwindling numbers and statistical assault on them had gradually made them irrelevant to the political process in the state; after exodus, their irrelevance was complete as only 22,818 had been included in the voters’ list.But the reality is that nearly 400,000 displaced Kashmiri Pandits, whose relevance to the events in the Valley cannot be questioned, have ceased to have any stake in the Valley’s political process. The delimitation to be carried out based on 2011 census will further seal this irrelevance. END
-Col. Tej K Tikoo