For decades, Sheikh Abdullah’s birthday had been a state holiday in Jammu and Kashmir, but it has now been removed by the Modi-Government after the abrogation of Article 370.
Khalida Shah, the daughter of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah in an interview with Al Jazeera says –“It is definitely hurtful.” Shah, 84, has been under house arrest since August last year as part of a government crackdown against Kashmiri politicians.
“Indian government is trying to erase the history of Kashmir by doing this,” she said referring to the removal of Abdullah’s anniversary celebration by India’s governing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Kashmiri activists apprehend the removal of Article 370 will likely be followed-up by demographic changes in the Muslim-majority region, as outsiders can now buy land and settle in the volatile region.
Shah said her family “became enemies with people for siding with India”.
King Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession and agreed that the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir would accede to the Indian Union, in October 1947. Under the Instrument of Accession, New Delhi only controlled the region’s foreign affairs, defence and communications. Over time, however, India diluted Kashmir’s autonomous status.
Massacre & Exodus of Kashmir Pandits
One day just like that, the world you call your own is no longer yours. The house where your ancestors have lived and prospered has a leaflet attached to it, ‘O infidel, leave this place’. Shouts from the Masjids warn: O Infidels leave Kashmir; We want freedom: with the Hindu women, without their men; The only rule of law in Kashmir will be Sharia; Indian Dogs go back.
Well-wishers drop by to ask you to leave, citing growing violence but secretly sizing your house for their furniture. Bomb blasts, acid attacks and recovery of ammunition is the standard news. People talk in whispers as if this is just the beginning- Azadi is just around the corner. Silence, eerie silence heavily laced with fear.
You find a lift, a taxi, a truck to take you and your family out of the valley. You trust your neighbour with the keys to your abode. Surely you will return when the Jihad madness calms down? When you will again be treated like a friend, a neighbour, a teacher and not as an infidel who obstructs the path to Azadi.
Hopefully out of the valley, your daughter, sister and mother will be safe from acid attacks, abduction, rapes and forcible conversion and you can practice your religion without fear.
Jammu is too small, and not designed for mass exodus of 500,000 refugees. Small tents have been put up on open fields with no sanitation, water or electricity. Extended families people live, sleep, eat, study in the same cramped space. Life is difficult, ways of living are different and then there’s the shock of being reduced to nothing, nobody!
Education was the primary concern. Schools are made to run an afternoon session for refugee students – 40-degree centigrade is neither ideal for concentration nor for health. Nor are leaking and flooding tents in the monsoons. Heat strokes, snake bites, scorpion bites, diarrhoea, malaria, Typhoid and other diseases are common. So is a heart attack, stroke and dementia.
While the elders are dying like flies, young people strive for excellence. They don’t pick up the gun or stretch a hand to beg. They ask for school, university and college admissions based on merit and spread across the country for education and career building. Hard work pays dividends and this young crop of Kashmiri Hindus make a mini Kashmir wherever in the world they go. It’s been 30 years since we were forced to leave our land and hearth, never to return.