Genocide is an activity well planned over the years before its execution and it occurs only in a Nation with composite culture, diversity in religions (sects within) and race. It is perpetuated/executed by a dominant group in a heterogeneous society which is intolerant to the cultures and religions other than its own. It may be carried out by the State against the political activists professing a political ideology different from that of the ruling elite who may find it antagonistic to their political philosophy and/or by the “non-state” actors against such socio-religious and socio-cultural groups classified as out-groups. The ruling elite is deemed to be in league with the “non-state” actors if their administrative machinery is found wanting in checking this heinous crime by way of not bringing the culprits to justice post the gruesome act and/or by not having institutionalized certain checks and balances to ensure that genocide doesn’t happen in the first place.
How does the process to affect genocide start? An attempt is made to answer this question in the following lines. The types of genocide are discussed taking the Pandit community as a sample. It is suggested that a thorough scientific study is required to understand genocide of the Pandit community and the instruments used to accomplish it if a viable hypothesis for non-recurrence of genocide is to evolve.
Dehumanization: The First Step
If a group classified as out-group in a heterogeneous society is to be exterminated then a percentage (section) of the population belonging to the in-group need to be indoctrinated to the extent that it thinks of the target group as not worthy of living amidst them because everything about the target group is abhorrent. That indoctrination is the instrument for performing the act of dehumanizing.
The underlying ideology/world-view that supports and strengthens the process of dehumanizing is denial of the identity to an individual/group(s) other than the dominant group. The “minorities” categorized under race, ethnicity, culture and religion, and political ideology are to be looked down upon as 1) uncultured and therefore uncivilized, 2) pariah because of their non-conformity to the dominant religion, 3) lacking mental faculties commonly associated with the human beings, and 4) anti-State if belonging to a political ideology different from the ruling one.
While (1) and (3) were employed by the colonial masters as the basis for justifying colonizing the human and natural resources of more than 3/4th of the globe; (1) and (2) were employed by such religious doctrine which arrogated onto itself the tag of being “ultimate and superior” as the basis for justifying the massacre of people (belonging to other faiths) across the globe and ensuring their compliance with the alien religion under duress; (4) was employed as the basis for imposing totalitarian regime on the people.
Though race, ethnicity, culture and religion, and political ideology are the factors that may trigger the process of dehumanizing yet the most potent from among these are religious, racial and political ideologies. While dehumanizing may be generally classified as an inter-race dynamics yet it being intra-race cannot be ruled out. “Race” means people with common ancestry, blood and culture and may have had a common religion for few millenniums yet the people belonging to a common race may choose to adopt a new religion by choice or under duress thereby chances of a schism developing between the two religious groups become more real than imaginary. Similarly, post kingdom era, the advent of a variety of political ideologies, if adopted by the people of a common race/nation, are liable to cause disharmony within the race.
Fundamental to both political and religion based dehumanizing is the complex of being not only superior, but also providing the ultimate path for emancipation of human race from its multiple woes.
Thus, one finds oppressive regimes led by such political ideology that prefers totalitarian system and therefore it does not countenance any expression of thought by way of speech - in any human endeavour - that is found to be at variance with their doctrine. Human beings are differentiated from the plant and animal world because human race is endowed with ever evolving mental/thinking capabilities that the animal and plant worlds are not. Therefore a political dispensation that curbs free thinking and expression denies that identity to the people that differentiate them from animals. This kind of identity denial - act of dehumanizing - is tantamount to Genocide of Intellect as it coerces the people to fall in line with the dominant political world-view else face extermination (genocide). Fanaticism born out of a complex is no different from being superstitious (irrational/illogical) as it is dogmatic. Being dogmatic is tantamount to being assertive (inflexible) and when combined with political power becomes a toxic cocktail of pride and prejudice that leads to a centralized power center authorized to annihilate all the incompatible that comes its way and since masses have been dehumanized (loss of identity) they reduce to being mere objects that are dispensable (genocide).
Similarly, religion based dehumanizing is carried out motivated by the doctrine of its superiority over all other faiths. The followers of other faiths are looked down upon and are referred to in very derogatory terms and are categorized as a kind of out-cast with reference to the members of this “superior” religion group and if this attitude/mindset is sanctified by their religious texts then dehumanizing others becomes a Divine service. Their religious heads preach intolerance towards people of other faiths as also the treatment that should be meted out to them, by quoting from the holy texts. Thus, the “non-conformists” are delisted from being humans as they are perceived to be in direct confrontation with the Law of (their) Creator and thus they are robbed of their identity. The situation for the people of other faiths becomes particularly horrendous if the “superior” religion is endowed with a political doctrine that aims to universalize it through the process of conversions by whatever means possible so that a theocratic State is put in place that follows in letter and spirit the tenets/dictates of “superior” religion. Once the people belonging to out-group are debased to the extent of not being humans, their genocide becomes possible.
Intra-Race Genocide and State Compliance
Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits belong to one race. The Kashmiri society was always a multi-religious one in which Jain, Bodh and Sanatan schools of thought- religious, metaphysical and cultural - co-existed. The “Nastiks” were as much an in-group as the “Astiks”. This is not to claim that there were never any incidents of friction between them, but adherents of any faith were not categorized as out-group. All this was to change starting mid 14th C.E. with the advent of an alien religion - Islam. Three to four centuries of Muslim rule in Kashmir ensured a miniscule minority status for the Hindus/Pandits and overwhelming majority for the new converts to Islam facilitated through extermination and exile of non-conformists.
Kashmir may be a unique place where, in a democratic dispensation, intra-race dehumanization followed by genocide took place motivated by acknowledged toxic mix of religion and politics. The state machinery’s and the ruling elite’s compliance in the whole process comes to light when perpetrators of 1986 riots are not brought to justice nor are those responsible for the mass scale forced exodus of Kashmiri Pandit community and for the mass massacres which continued thereafter.
Genocide can be Peaceful or Violent
What was witnessed in 1991 was a violent form of genocide for which planning had gone on peacefully for nearly two decades; that two decades of planning included poisoning the minds of as many as possible (belonging to the in-group) against the target group - by citing verses from holy books, collecting all the information about the target group related to family details, residential address and occupation, etcetera. In this stupendous exercise the entire state machinery was taken into confidence, while it remained business as usual with the members of the target group. Then, the whole plan started rolling out starting 1986 and since the State was compromised it looked the other way as did the leadership of all political parties.
The genocide can be accomplished in peaceful ways too. And, this peaceful genocide was ON since the day princely state of J&K acceded to Indian Union. For the sake of convenience the definition of genocide is reproduced here as under:
Genocide is the intentional destruction of a people in whole or in part. In 1948, the United Nations Genocide Convention defined genocide as any of five “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. These five acts were: killing members of the group, causing them serious bodily or mental harm, imposing living conditions intended to destroy the group, preventing births, and forcibly transferring children out of the group. Victims are targeted because of their real or perceived membership of a group, not randomly.
From the five acts as mentioned in the definition of genocide, the two – causing them mental harm and imposing living conditions intended to destroy the group - are most potent instruments for affecting peaceful genocide. More than one is a group and the two - husband and wife - constitute basic unit of a family. Unwritten government policies when implemented to ensure a steady outflow of the members of the out-group to unknown places shall guarantee that after a number of decades the place would remain cleansed of them to find them residing in places they remain alien to because of incompatibility of their culture, belief system, way to celebrate religious functions, and language with the inhabitants of their new found “home”. This incompatibility is liable to cause mental harm as one is pulled on one side by the yearning to return to roots and on the other to stay back for reasons material and necessary for life to move on.
For the life to move on, the generations next continue to live in alien lands and with every passing generation slowly but surely lose connect with their forefathers’ culture, belief system, and way to celebrate religious functions; not to speak of their mother tongue which begins to remain confined to four walls of their house since it no longer remains useful for interacting with the outside world and with incoming generations is lost into the oblivion. Thus, in few decades time the community is robbed of its culture, belief system, way to celebrate religious functions and language and if that is not multi-dimensional genocide then what it is!
The Bottom Line
So long as hate preaching motivated by religious ideology continues; the political ideology perpetuating totalitarian rule continues to be; the hate speeches are allowed in the name of freedom of expression even while they may be instigating one set of followers against the another; the state machinery looks the other way and/or is the accomplice in the process of dehumanizing leading to genocide; as long there seems to be no way occurrences of genocide can be prevented in the future.
The experience of Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir and the way the Muslims planned genocide of the Pandit community with the political outfits and the government of the day a willing partner, is a real time situation of a very recent past and it’s that genocide and the instruments used to accomplish it which needs to be scientifically analyzed if any plausible hypothesis for non-recurrence of genocide has to emerge. Else, theoretical research can go on.