Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Focus on figures, not faith

Focus on figures, not faith
Author: Priyadarshi Dutta
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: March 6, 2015

URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/oped/focus-on-figures-not-faith.html

Ghar wapsi critics ignore the fact that the Hindu population is diminishing. Unless former Hindus are brought back into the fold, the community will become a minority, especially if conversions to other faiths are to continue unabated Scorn and condemnation is frequently poured on the ghar wapsi campaign—the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s programme for re-admission into Hindu fold of people traduced to other faiths. It is being unwittingly equated with coercive/forcible conversions, reminding one of Muslim rule or conversion through allurements, that are done by Christian missionaries. The asymmetry of motives between ghar wapsi and the other two is lost. While conversion to Christianity or Islam is enjoined by their respective scriptures, re-conversion to Hinduism is a product of historical circumstances in response to demographic peril. It has largely been forgotten why and how Swami Shraddhanand of Arya Samaj instituted shuddhi nearly a century ago. It has been eloquently described by the Swami himself in Hindu Sangathan: Saviour of the Dying Race.

 In February 1912, Swami Shraddhanand was in Kolkata. He was standing in the spacious hall of Kolkata Arya Samaj when a Bengali gentleman, named Colonel U Mukerji, of the Indian Military Services approached him. Colonel Mukerji’s Western attire had prejudiced the Swami but he soon made amends when the visitor broached an issue of immense concern. Colonel Mukerji said that he had been working on a pamphlet which mathematically established that Hindus would be wiped off the face of the earth within 420 years if remedial measures were not put in place.

 Col Mukerji read from the Census of India, 1911 (Vol-1, P.122). It said: “In the whole of India the proportion of Hindus to the total population has fallen in 30 years from 74 to 69 percent, but this is partly due to inclusion at each succeeding Census of new areas in which Hindus, if they are found at all, are in minority”. 

 Taking five per cent to be the actual proportion of decline of the Hindus within 30 years, Col Mukerji said their present number of 69 per cent will be swallowed up in (14x30) 420 years, if no efforts were made to arrest the decline. By then, UN Mukerji had already, in 1909, published a brochure based on Census 1901 figures, titled Hindus, a Dying Race? But even a nationalist of eminence, like Sri Aurobindo, had downplayed its importance in a review in Karmayogin Weekly (November 6, 1909).

 But Swami Shraddhanand gave it patient consideration. “For a full 13 years after that, I remained a mere student of statistics, but in the beginning of the year 1923 AD I threw myself heart and soul into movement of protection and progress of my people…”, he said. It was in February 1923 that he led a project for reconversion of Malkana Rajputs (whose forefathers were Hindus) living near Agra. For this purpose,  the Bharatiya Hindu Shuddhi Sabha was formed.

 The reconversion happened in the presence of thousands of guests from outside, who partook food prepared and distributed by the Malkanas. Swami Shraddhanand emphasised that the Hindus were also undergoing prayaschchit (purification) for keeping outside their fold such heroic and pure souls for centuries. Village after village was reclaimed. By the end of December 1928, thousands of neo-Muslims had embraced Hinduism.

 Swami Shraddhanand’s project started much before the RSS was founded. It was rounded up when the Sangh was still in the incubator. But what must be noted is that it was over statistics, not scriptures, not ‘soul harvesting’. A worsening Hindu demography would lead to worsening security of Hindus. The religion-wise data of 1911 Census drove this point home for Swami Shraddhanand. A hundred years later, the situation is not very different. The ghar wapsi today is actuated by the same apprehensions. Ironically, the Government has not disclosed the religion-wise data of 2011 Census.
 This writer had long since suspected that the ‘secular’ UPA Government had deliberately withheld publication of the 2011 Census because it had found steep increase in the Muslim demographic share at the cost of the Hindu population. The author tenaciously pursued the subject under the RTI Act. In the hearing before Mr Vijai Sharma, IAS (Retd), Information Commissioner on December 31, 2013, no representative from the Registrar General of India turned up bolstering the author’s suspicion that the Government had much to hide. However, to this author’s disappointment even the Information Commissioner, a Congress appointee, came out with a peculiar decision, helping concealment rather than disclosure. The decision No. CIC/SS/A/2013/001596/VS/05811 dated January 13, 2014 is available on CIC’s website.

 The UPA had its compulsions to keep a lid on the religious demography. But the fear was political instead of civilisational. The UPA feared revelations about burgeoning Muslim demography would give the BJP a handle in the 2014 general election. The UPA lost the election anyway because it had lost the plot. Since then, it has been nine months since BJP-led government is in power. And yet the religion-wise data of the 2011 Census has only been partially released.

 According to figures that have been made public, India’s Hindu population has fallen below 80 per cent for the first time since 1947, when the country was partitioned because Muslim-majority regions demanded to secede. Following Partition, Hindus (and Sikhs) were squeezed from their ancestral homes and Col Mukerji’s views were vindicated. The same demographic shift is occurring now.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Killing Human Rights – A new perspective

We Indians are often made to feel guilty by Kashmiri politicians and their patrons as well as International human rights professionals about continuing human rights violation against citizens of Jammu & Kashmir. Even for politicians at Srinagar , Jammu and Ladakh don’t matter much.

On eve of SARC samiti at Kathmandu,Nepal I would like to highlight specific issue of human rights violation perpetrated through constitution by politicians of Kashmir valley. I will like to  speak about  Kashmiri Pandits who are living as refugees and displaced persons. We have  forgotten their plight as their families are suffering in relief camps for more than thirty years under the watch of J&K rulers namly two elite families. What about their future generation and children. Most of the children have crossed 21 years of age and are still away from their motherland.

There has been lot of breast beating against Art 370 and debate about merger of J&K with India. The simple truth is that article of accession of J&K to India was signed on 26th October, 1947 and Art 370 was enacted on 6th Feb, 1954. The accession was ratified by J&K Constituent Assembly on 26th January, 1957. So, the debate whether J&K accession is conditional or not is infructuous. The Kashmiri politicians are afraid of a debate on Art 370 simply because it will expose their exploitation of their own people.

For the present, I am going to talk of a less discussed, lesser known pernicious clause, article 35(A) that was inserted into constitution through a Presidential order with a discreet but firm push from  Pandit Nehru. Though any amendment to constitution has to be passed by the Parliament, this amendment was never presented or passed by the parliament. It was added to the constitution stealthily as an annexure. This was a breach of the basic structure of our constitution.   The amendments with its multiple sub-clauses are mentioned only in Appendix-I and Appendix-II of Indian Constitution. This stratagem has worked for decades as even senior legal luminaries are not aware of this clause though they speak eloquently about J&K and Indian constitution. This article 35(A) was enforced in Jammu & Kashmir through the Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Order, May 1954.

Article 35(A) states that: “Saving of laws with respect to permanent residents and their rights: Notwithstanding anything contained in this (Indian) Constitution, no existing law in force in the State of Jammu & Kashmir, and no law hereafter enacted by the Legislature of the State – (a) defining the classes of persons who are, or shall be permanent residents of the State of Jammu & Kashmir, or (b) conferring on such permanent residents any special rights and privileges or imposing upon other persons any restrictions as respects (i) employment under the State Government; (ii) acquisition of immovable property in the State; (iii) settlement in the State; or (iv) right to scholarships and such other forms of aid as the State  Government may provide, shall be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with or takes away or abridges any rights conferred on the other citizens of India by any provision of this part”.
Section 6 introduced under this article by the State Government reads and enforced zealously says: “(I)Every person who is, or is deemed to be, a citizen of India under the provisions of the Constitution of India shall be a permanent resident of the State, if on the fourteenth day of May, 1954, (a) he was a state subject of class I or of class II, or (b) having lawfully acquired immovable property in the State, he has been ordinarily resident in the State for not less than ten years prior to this date and (II) any person who, before the fourteenth day of May, 1954 was a State Subject of class I or of class II and who, having migrated after the first day of March, 1947, to the territory – now included in Pakistan, returns to state under a permit for resettlement in the State or for permanent return issued by or under the authority of any law made by the State Legislature shall on such return be a permanent resident of the State”.
This meant, no persons who had crossed over to the state after May 1944 would be considered eligible for citizenship rights. This resulted in denial of citizenship rights to the Indians who were not Permanent Residents of the State as per the definition of Permanent Resident of the State. The second provision granted full citizenship rights to those who migrated from the State to Pakistan on or after March 1, 1947 and adopted Pakistani citizenship in case they returned to Jammu & Kashmir (read, Muslims).
This article 35(A) and provisions drawn under it by J&K Constituent assembly empowered J&K governments to deny citizenship rights to refugees from West Pakistan (from Punjab side). It also made it impossible for citizens of India for ever becoming permanent residents of J&K. It also stopped many Indian laws’ implementation in J&K.
Women i.e. nearly half the population of J&K are victimized and suffer due to article 35(A). J&K government passed a resolution depriving J&K women to right to citizenship and inheritance if they married outside J&K to an Indian who is not permanent resident of J&K. While if a man who had gone to Pakistan returns and marries a girl from  J&K , he would automatically become a permanent resident of J&K. Similarly, a woman from outside marrying a permanent resident of J&K  would automatically become permanent resident  of J&K enjoying all the benefits that  citizen of J&K enjoyed. Thus, women of J&K were made second class citizen, she and her children losing all rights to property and other benefits. It was only because of  J&K High Court decision that a woman marrying outside J&K now retains her rights as state subject in a limited way.  She can enjoy her property while she is alive, but she cannot bequeath it to her children or any other member of the family. Her children cannot enjoy the privileges of being permanent residents in studies or jobs. Thus, women in J&K are deprived of equality before law by a constitutional provision which is patently violative of her rights.
Apart from women, there are three other categories of Indian citizens who are suffering for more than 40 to 60 years due to this unconstitutional l provision in constitution -
·         Nearly 2 lac refugees from Lyllpur, Pakistan who migrated to J&K in 1947
·         About 50000 families from POJK in J&K who took shelter in J&K after 1948 attack by Pakistanis, now numbering nearly  12 lacs, of whom 8 lacs live in Jammu in 56 camps.
·         Apart from this, nearly 1 lac displaced persons from Chhamb, gifted to Pakistan after victorious 1971 war because of state government apathy.

Refugees from West Pakistan have become stateless citizens who have no rights. They can vote for Central elections but not for state elections! They cannot buy property, educate their children or gain employment in J&K. They have been living in refugee camps for over 6 decades now. Most of these refugees are from SC and OBC category and no reservation benefits flow to them. While Mr. Manmohan Singh hailing from same region was lucky that his family didn’t migrate to J&K, but to Punjab, others of this region whom fate brought to J&K were not so lucky and have suffered endless indignities for generations. No government of India has been able to do anything for them because of this clause.
Third category of Indian citizens who have suffered immensely are the citizens of Pak Occupied J&K (POJK) who had to seek refuge in J&K after 1948 attack of Pakistani forces under the garb of tribals. They number around 12 lacs today and stay mainly in refugee camps in Jammu. They are not being granted any rights. The argument is that since POJK is considered Indian territory, if J&K government gives them refugee status, India will technically give up its right on POJK. So, they lead an insufferable life as stateless citizens though they are citizens of J&K in every way. They too enjoy no rights as citizens and live in refugee camps since last six decades.
The biggest paradox is that J&K assembly has some seats reserved for representatives of POJK under provision of law. However, these seats have never been filled by representatives of POJK. The underlying reason is that they belong to Shia community which is in majority in POJK and Sunni leadership of valley cannot brook any representation from rival sect.
Finally, there are displaced people of 1971 war numbering nearly 1 lac now. Though, they are not direct victims of Article 35(A), they have been suffering  due to central and state government apathy. They were displaced not because of war, but because victorious India handed over 18000 sq km of Chhamb to Pakistan under Simla agreement. They have also not been rehabilitated for last 40 years for no fault of theirs. The compensation they have received is paltry Rs. 8500/- per family, though they were promised homes and land! They too live in makeshift refugee camps for over 40 years.
I have not talked about large number of law that blocked using this clause 35(A). I have not talked of travails of 4 lac Kashmiri Pandits, who were the last wave of Hindus who were victims of ethnic cleansing in 1989-90.  Focus of this essay was the tragic story of faceless, stateless citizens of India who have suffered gross human rights violation and dignity under an unconstitutional clause.
I hope some compassionate parliamentarian would raise the issue of lacs of hapless children of India and help them enjoy the spirit of freedom that we celebrate on every 15th August.

Written sometimes back by a Veteran J&K Leader.Some of the portions added or omitted by Me as per requirement of the flow of the article.