NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday asked an NGO that raised the issue of the alleged genocide of Hindus and Sikhs in Jammu and Kashmir during 1989-2003 to make a representation before the Centre and the appropriate authority.
In its plea, the NGO We the Citizens sought the constitution of a Special Investigation Team to identify the perpetrators who were involved, aided and abetted the alleged genocide. The plea was heard by a bench of Justices B R Gavai and C T Ravikumar.
The petitioner’s counsel argued before the apex court that the genocide and exodus of over one lakh Sikhs and Hindus from the Kashmir Valley during that period had never been noticed by the state administration at that time. “Have you made a representation to the government?” the bench asked.
The counsel said they have not. “You withdraw it and make a representation,” the court said. The top court, which disposed of the petition, allowed the petitioner to withdraw the plea with the liberty to make a representation to the government and the appropriate authority.
At the outset, the bench said, “It is purely in the domain of the executive. You approach the government.” The counsel referred to Article 370 of the Constitution, which was abrogated by the Centre in August 2019, and also Article 35-A.
While the provisions of Article 370 granted special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir, Article 35-A provided special rights and privileges to natives of the erstwhile state. The petitioner’s lawyer also referred to a book and said it gives an account of how the state administration had failed in taking care of Hindus and Sikhs during that period.
The plea sought directions to conduct a census of Hindus and Sikhs, who have been victims or survivors of “genocide” in Jammu and Kashmir and are now residing in different parts of India, and also for the rehabilitation of those who had migrated after the exodus in 1990.
It said, “The dastardly genocide and exodus of Kashmiri Hindus and Sikhs which happened in 1989-90 in the Kashmir valley is a glaring example of complete failure of constitutional machinery in preventing the genocide and protecting the life, property of the Kashmiri Hindu and Sikh in the Kashmir valley”.
The plea referred to books such as “My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir”, authored by Jagmohan who was Jammu and Kashmir governor during the relevant period, and “Our Moon Has Blood Clots” by Rahul Pandita.
“These books describe the first-hand account of incident of murder, arson and migration of Hindus and Sikhs from Kashmir,” the plea said.
“Kashmiri Pandits (Hindus) and Sikhs have always been in the forefront of the struggle against secessionism, communalism and fundamentalism in Kashmir. The final exodus of Kashmiri Hindus and Sikhs began from the Kashmir valley in 1989. This was a genocide of the highest order with the intent to ethnically cleanse the Kashmir valley from Hindus and Sikhs,” it said. (PTI)