On the 10th July, the first day of the Hindu holy month of Shravan, Hindu pilgrims returning from the Amarnath Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir, were targeted in a despicable act of Islamist terrorism. Reports have said that a bus carrying pilgrims got separated from the convoy it was moving with, when terrorists riding bikes opened fire. The terrorists killed six women and one man and injured 32 others.
“The bottom line is that Hindus have rights too. “
Whilst this is a clear and targeted act of terror against Hindus, the media and rhetoric surrounding this attack so far has been abhorrent and adds further insult to the precious lives lost. Instead of an outcry against such a gruesome act of terror, media reports are focusing on the fact that the bus wasn’t registered and shouldn’t have been on the road after the 7pm deadline. Little is spoken of the motive behind this attack and instead, the innocent pilgrims and the bus are supposedly at fault.
The BBC has gone even further where in the following article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-40561511 the attack is brushed off as an apparent “cross-fire” and that Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) had nothing to do with it. This is hugely contradictory and belittles the statement made by Jammu and Kashmir’s Inspector General of Police, Muneer Khan, who said to ANI news agency that the terror attack was carried out by the LeT and was masterminded by a Pakistani terrorist Abu Ismail. It is ironic that this BBC article managed to include the term “Hardline Hindu groups” when referring to the need for tougher action to be taken against terrorist groups in the region. Shouldn’t all religions and groups be against such acts of terrorism? Why is it that when Hindus fairly demand equal rights and the freedom to practise their religion, some media outlets brand them as “right-wing fundamentalists” and “saffron-clad hardliners”, however when Hindus are attacked, the actual hardliners and terrorists are simply labelled as separatists and freedom fighters.
The bottom line is that Hindus have rights too. The right to practise their religion and visit their holy sites free of fear and intimidation. When Hindus are targeted as part of an attack, the rest of the world stays silent. However, when members of other religions are killed in India, there is a huge outcry and the world shuns India of being “intolerant” and targets Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
It is evident that the forced exodus and extermination of Hindus in Kashmir is still ongoing having started in the 14th Century. Sikandar Butshikan, the second Sultan of the Shah Miri dynasty of Kashmir, was known as “Sikandar the Iconoclast” due to his cruel desecration and destruction of temples and holy places of Hindus and Buddhists. He forbade Hindus to pray, apply a tilak or even ring a bell. Sikandar also issued orders banning the residence of non-Muslims in Kashmir and ensured that Hindus were forcibly converted to Islam or were massacred if they refused.
In modern times, the genocide of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990 led to the exodus of 350,000 Kashmiri Pandits from the valley and since then, attacks have continued to be carried out on Hindu pilgrims:
- 2nd August 2000 – terrorists opened fire killing on Amarnath pilgrims killing over 89 people
- 20th July 2001 – a militant hurled two grenades at a camp and later opened fire near the Amarnath shrine
- 30th 2002 – two pilgrims were killed and three injured when militants hurled grenades at a taxi in Srinagar which was on its way to the Amarnath cave base camp
- 6th August 2002 – three LeT terrorists opened fire inside the Pahalgam base camp, killing nine people and injuring 27
- 21st June 2006 – at least five people were injured when terrorists hurled a grenade at a bus carrying Amarnath Yatra pilgrims from a base camp to Srinagar.
The ongoing persecution of Hindus in Kashmir is a vital issue which needs urgent addressing once and for all. Despite a heavy security presence in the area and the fact that Indian forces have captured many Islamist militants in the area, terrorists are still able to slip through the net and camouflage themselves within the local community. It is about time that we all stood up against the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in the valley no matter which religion we belong too, as ALL religions have the right to visit their holy shrines undisturbed.