The purpose of this paper is to inform all concern on the plight of the People of Jammu & Kashmir and Northern Areas (Gilgit Baltistan and Ladakh) politically known as Kashmir. It particularly aims to highlight the impact of the undetermined status of Jammu and Kashmir on the Kashmiri Diaspora, especially on the question of identity and its recognition in the countries of settlements of the Diaspora.
The main aspects of Kashmiri Diaspora, I am going to highlight include the following:
- The existence of Kashmiri Diaspora in Europe
- Its exclusion in Britain at various levels of state and society, including
- Service delivery
- Political and human rights
- Meaningful engagement and input or lack of it at various levels
- Implication of their exclusion, both here and their country of origin
This paper will also make some comparisons with Kashmiri ethnicity re-identification/re-classification and African slave’s re-identification/re-classification. Hence, questions are raised, if EU countries are playing an active role in human rights abuse within their sphere and are bringing indirect colonial practices at their door steps. (This may be so in ignorance)
Kashmir was an independent state for many centuries and has five thousand years of chronological written history (Raj Trangani by Pandat Kahllan).However, for the past few centuries it has been occupied by Moughals of India, Pathans of Afghinstan and up until 1846 by Lahore Durbar (Punjab) and from 1846 to 1947 by Dogra dynasty.
When the British rule came to an end in 1947 India became independent and Pakistan was created, Kashmir and other princely states were not part of the division formula, hence, the state of Jammu Kashmir Ladakh and Northern areas popularly known as Kashmir became independent until both India and Pakistan invaded it. There after Kashmir ceased to exist as one nation and it lost its independent status. There are claims and counter claims by both occupiers; however, in the process of division the views of inhabitants were not seeked, though promised by UN that still remains the case.
The exact process leading to the division is disputed but what is not disputed is that Kashmir is still divided and occupied by foreign forces against the wishes of the people of state of Jammu Kashmir. In reality, it isdivided in to three open jails, people of one region cannot visit another region, hence it divides millions of people i.e. parents from children, friends from friends. It needs more research but there is evidence that this has affected communities across the state mentally, physically and has given opportunity to right wing forces to exploit ordinary people, hence resulting in both Islamic and Hindu fundamentalisms as seen recently in the Valley and Jammu regions.
Most social commentators, including Roger Ballard, Nasreen Ali, Vrindar Singh Kalara and many more, write that in Britain there are nearly a million
people of Kashmiri origin. Given that, there were nearly 800,000 Pakistanis recorded in 2001 census. According to Ballard’s estimation nearly 6,00,000 of those are of Kashmiri origin. It should be noted that over 23,000 Kashmiris self wrote Kashmiris and also it is estimated that; around 250,000 Kashmiris did not return census forms because they thought it is not for them. Lord Ahmed of Rotherham in a letter to Baroness Emma Nicholson in 2005 quotes this figure at one million, this then is followed by his Excellency Wajid Shamas, Pakistani high commissioner to UK. In an article to Owsaf news paper he also quotes this figure to be one million.
Majority of Kashmiris living in Britain came from the Pahari region of Jammu Kashmiri primarily Mirpur Division .These Kashmiris started coming to Britain in early part of 20th century, however due to division of India and lack of opportunities in Pakistan , they started coming to Britain in greater numbers. Early Kashmiri migrants especially 1950s and early 1960s came for shorter periods, however, the economic and political situation back home dictated otherwise and that early migration changed in to chain migration. With current insurgency, India and Pakistan’s organised terrorism in the state of Jammu Kashmir many Kashmiris are forced to flee their home land, hence, now Kashmiris can be found in every European city and country. Therefore it is believed that there are close to two million Kashmiris within EU. We do not know exact numbers, why not? That is the question.
As mentioned above, there are half a million to one million Kashmiri people residing in United Kingdom , most of them come from Pahari region of the state (Mirpur Division), they speak distinct language (Pahari) and share long history and culture which is different than that of other South Asian languages and cultures. This perhaps makes Kashmiris the largest distinct group of all ethnic minorities from South Asia for example Bangla speaking are just over three hundred thousand, Sikhs around two hundred and fifty thousand and same with other groups from South Asia. Despite the numbers and despite massive awareness and inclusion campaigns for decades by Kashmiri Diaspora, British Authorities continue to exclude Kashmiris from all its systems.
At one level the Authorities i.e. census regime and its users advocate that the services are Taylor made for individuals and that census data amongst many other uses is for individual, regional and communities socio economic profiling. If that argument was taken forward then British and other EU authorities are working against their own set rule and criterion, and perhaps are breaking the law. Though recently there have been rafts and rafts of local (British) and EU inclusion legislations from which ethnic minorities benefit safety and enhancement opportunities but Kashmiri Diaspora is not only excluded and unprotected from these legislations, but in the case of bigotry and discrimination, by other South Asian communities, the system does not protect the victims, because the system does not recognise Kashmiri Diaspora, hence if you don’t exist you cannot be discriminated against.
Office of statistics describes Kashmiri Diaspora as Pakistanis and office of registration for deaths births recognises Kashmiris as Indians, Some politicians and decision makers come up with an excuse that it should be Pakistani Kashmiris and Indian Kashmiris, while the same authorities include Irish as one rather than Irish republic and northern Ireland.
It is also often quoted that Kashmir is not an independent country therefore Kashmiri Diaspora can’t be included and identified as Kashmiri but at the same time Palestinians, Kurds, Romany, Gypsies, Sikhs, Muslims and many more country less minorities are included for the purposes of monitoring service delivery and protection against discrimination.
1991 and 2001 census included many more categories than previous census exercises including the religion categories, hence Kashmiris can be Muslims, Pakistanis, Indians, Asians, Blacks but not Kashmiris which they actually are. This than means that their socio economic profile cannot be measured therefore Kashmiri Diaspora is excluded from any decision making process.
At the lobbying end as soon as one mentions Kashmir, it automatically becomes politically sensitive and all concern are very happy to talk about Kashmir and Kashmiris in the South Asian contest, hence deliberately avoiding or ignoring a significant Kashmiri Diaspora.
Kashmiri Diasporas exclusion at every level in Europe has detrimental implications both for the Diaspora and host Nation. Though in-depth research is needed on the subject but I will try to high light some of the issues faced by the Diaspora in Europe, Both sides of Kashmir at home and internationally especially post 9-11 and 7-7.
In Europe especially in United Kingdom where majority of Kashmiris live, all researches show that Pakistanis are:
- At the bottom of the pile in educational achievement
- Living in overcrowding conditions
- Suffering from above average ill health conditions
- Living in deprived excluded enclaves
- Under represented in business
- Over represented in criminal justice system
- Under represented in politics and the list goes on
- Due to Kashmiri exclusion, Kashmiris fleeing violence seeking asylum in Europe, do not get privileges that other such refugees do
- Some academic researchers, service providers and decision makers, have looked at the exclusion closely. They have concluded that Pakistani achievement level is in par with Indians, it is Kashmiris when mixed with Pakistanis infact bring the Pakistani attainment level down. The researchers also indicate that Kashmiris are excluded from any meaningful decision maker’s consultation in service delivery and design.
Other South Asians
Other South Asian communities particularly Pakistanis( who are put in the positions of power by the British state and society i.e. by excluding Kashmiris living in United Kingdom and by consulting and engaging with Pakistani community leaders on behalf of Kashmiris.) Bigot and discriminate against Kashmiri Diaspora at every level. The relationship can be compared with the relationship that exists between English and Irish. Pakistanis refer to Kashmiri community as Mirpuris and deliberately negating their National (Kashmiri) identity, which is followed by many academic researchers in ignorance of course. Kashmiri Diaspora is legally un-protected against this ongoing discrimination; hence, their human rights are violated or not is a question for the relevant authorities.
This than means that Kashmiri first second and third generations are growing up identity less and confused. Of course they seek identity and feel safer in Muslim identity, which in turn means that they are open to exploitation and recruitment by organisations which have right wing agenda i.e. terrorism. For example there seem to be no example of any British Kashmiri’s involvement in Kashmir but it should be noted that suicide bombers in Israel were from UK and were of Kashmiri heritage, similarly there are examples of British Kashmiris involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as 7/7 but they are of course referred to as Pakistanis. Most of the Inner city riots In Birmingham, Bradford Leeds and East Lancashire were by Kashmiri youngsters but of course they were referred to as Pakistanis. Above are few examples of implications of exclusion of Kashmiri identity and ethnicity from the decision makers. This is so despite many local service providers’ inclusion and recommendation for example more than fifteen local authorities in UK include Kashmiri category for service delivery and employment.
In Jammu and Kashmir
Kashmiri exclusion in Europe means that all Kashmiri living in Europe are likely to lose their hereditary rights which they have by virtue of State subject. (Kashmiri Nationality) was introduced by Maharaja Hari Sing, (The last Ruler of the state of Jammu Kashmir). this was introduced in October 1927. Without the State subject one cannot buy, sell, own or inherit land or property in the State of Jammu Kashmir. Both India and Pakistan have ingrained in their relevant constitutions to respect this position. However, from time to time both test waters to do away with this restriction, infact Pakistan has suspended this in the Northern Areas, which are under direct rule of Pakistan. This has resulted in massive demographic changes. India from time to time has tried to violate this too. Most recent example is “Amar- Nath -Yatra Shrine Board” against which Jammu and Kashmir witnessed a massive strike and ultimately India had to give in.
What this means for Kashmiri Diaspora is that:
· Kashmiri Diaspora is forced to obtain Pakistani Nationality (By virtue of dual Nationality agreement with many European countries including UK)
· Kashmiris are forced to obtain Pakistani identity card popularly known as Nadhra card,
· Office of death Birth registration registers all Kashmiris as Pakistani, therefore all documentations state that Kashmiris are Pakistanis,
Kashmiri exclusion and Kashmiri none recognition within Europe means that All legal documentations erase Kashmiri identity and replace it with Pakistani identity. This is also true of academia especially Pakistani academics like Anwar, Madood and Saiuf-ulla Khan. There seem to be similarities between slavery’s dark days “Where African slave’s identity, religion and names were changed and a new identity was given to them”. Kashmiri Diaspora perhaps is suffering from similar inhuman treatment as far as their ethnicity re-classification is concerned.
This than means is that:
· Kashmiri Diaspora cannot reclaim or inherit any real estate from their forefathers in Kashmir,
· Kashmiri Diaspora cannot participate in much promised UN plebiscite, hence has no say on the fate of their future,
· By virtue of act 1954 where Pakistan states that Azad Kashmir (POK) is sensitive area therefore entry of none Kashmiris is discretionary, what this means is that whole of Kashmiri Diaspora can be denied to visit even their parents if Pakistani authorities so wish.
· In practice both Pakistan and India take measures to stop State people visiting other parts of the state, while no restrictions are in eveidence to Pakistan and India’s citizens.
In conclusion the above evidence suggests that:
· Kashmiri Diaspora has existed in Europe for at least over a century, and currently there are around one million to two million Kashmiris living within Europe, majority being in United Kingdom.
· Due to continuous exclusion, Kashmiri Diaspora has failed to progress as fast as identified and included Diasporas, therefore, Kashmiris have formed their own excluded enclaves and live in very poor conditions, with above average unemployment, extremely below average economic and educational attainment and well above national average are represented in Criminal justice system.
· Identity less Kashmiri Diaspora is likely to suffer above average unreported discrimination both from indigenes and South Asian communities.
· Kashmiri Diaspora is invisible and is deliberately excluded from any meaningful contribution at political, and decision making level, For example India and Pakistan talk to each other on Kashmir but exclude Kashmiris from those meetings, does Europe not do the same? Of course the west does.
· Kashmiri Diaspora suffers worst human rights abuses back home and in Europe, with Europeans indirectly practicing colonialty by aiding neo-colonial powers in South Asia, This is so by not recognising Kashmiri Diaspora,
· Kashmiri people are treated as second class citizens both by India and Pakistan in South Asia and Kashmiri Diaspora is treated with contempt by Indian and Pakistani Diasporas in Europe. This process is aided by European (Specifically British authorities), By excluding Kashmiri Diaspora at every level.
· In most academic researches Kashmiri Diaspora has been re-classified for example the research subjects would be Kashmiris but they would be written on as Muslims, Pakistanis, and Asians or if some researchers go deeper they would stop at Mirpuris (Punjabis). Is this re-classification not similar to that of Slaves taken from Africa and given new identity? Is this not human rights abuse?
It is recommended that:
· This forum should pass a resolution in favour of Kashmiri ethnicity inclusion at all levels and write to all EU members including United Kingdom census authority, home Ministers, relevant UN department and all other relevant bodies.
· Write to Pakistani and Indian Governments to make provisions for Issuing state subjects to Kashmiri Diaspora
· Kashmiri category should be included for monitoring purposes with all government departments including, LGA, NHS and Police
The author of this article is Daalat Ali. He is a researcher, film script writer, director and founder chief executive of International Pahari Literary Society. His three books “Punch-na-Sarmad”, “Taharan-ni-Agh” and “Mela Asman” are the best sellers in Pahari language . His two more books are in print. His campaign on Kashmiri identity in the UK has gained momentum in recent months. He is co-ordinator of Kashmir National Identity Campaign (KNIC) in the UK. He could be reached at email@example.com. The paper was read at a seminar titled ” India-Pakistan Peace Process: the Way Forward” in London on 28 February 2012. The article source is Press for Peace