Letter: Human rights activists face death in Kashmir

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The Independent Online
Sir: Tim McGirk claims in his report on Kashmir (26 May) that 'in 1990 more than 30,000 Hindus were swept out of Kashmir so that the Indian security forces could have a clearer shot at the Muslim insurgents', implying that non-Muslims were encouraged by the state government to flee the Kashmir valley.

If that were true, then it must be a unique example in history of people leaving their ancestral home voluntarily to become refugees. There are now over 100,000 Hindus and Sikhs living in refugee camps in New Delhi, Jammu and other Indian cities. Their plight is highlighted daily in the letter columns of Indian newspapers.

Mr McGirk's attempt to christen the armed insurgency in Kashmir as a popular mass uprising is also inconsistent with the facts. From the outset, Hindus and Sikhs (who constitute an important segment of the Kashmiri population) opposed the idea of Kashmir joining Pakistan or becoming a theocratic Islamic state. That is why they have been on the receiving end of terrorist violence and intimidation. A movement based on sectarianism, communalism and religious fundamentalism cannot possibly be described as a mass uprising.

Yours faithfully,

RANDHIR SINGH BAINS

Gants Hill,

Essex

26 May

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