The Lead

32nd year of exile: How long Kashmiri Pandits have to wait for Return and Rehabilitation?

Today i.e. on 19th Jan., we are entering the 32nd year of exile and we do not know how long we have to wait for our return and rehabilitation to our homeland. It was the year 1990 and the day was 19th of January. Chilay Kalan (peak of winter) was already set in. People were mostly confined to homes. Businesses were at low. Kashmiri Pandits was a microscopic miniscule minority in a Muslim majority Kashmir valley. They have distinct culture, race and language which find its traces to more than 5000 years back. Every year 19th January, is being observed as Nishkasan Day by our community, Farooq Abdullah the then Chief Minister, whose pathetic and whimpering, government has ceased to exist and has gone into hiding, resigns and goes into a sulk. Curfew was imposed as a first measure to restore some semblance of law and order. But it failed to have a deterrent effect. Throughout the day, JKLF and Hizbul Mujahedeen terrorists use public address systems at mosques to exhort people to defy curfew and take to the streets. Masked men, firing from their Kalashnikovs, march up and down, terrorising Pandits who, by then, have locked themselves in their homes. As evening falls, the exhortations become louder and shriller. Three taped slogans were repeatedly played the whole night from mosques: ‘Kashmir mei agar rehna hai, Allah-O-Akbar kehna hai’ (If you want to stay in Kashmir, you have to say Allah-O-Akbar); etc.

Reports of killing of Hindus, invariably Kashmiri Pandits, begin to trickle in; there were explosions; inflammatory speeches were made from the pulpits of mosques, using public address systems meant for calling the faithful to prayers. A terrifying fear psychosis began to take grip of Kashmiri Pandits. Walls are plastered with posters and handbills, summarily ordering all Kashmiris to strictly follow the Islamic dress code, prohibiting the sale of alcoholic drinks and imposing a ban on video parlours and cinemas. The masked men with Kalashnikovs forced people to re-set their watches and clocks to Pakistan Standard Time. Notices were pasted on doors of many Pandit houses, asking the occupants to leave Kashmir within 24 hours or face death and worse. Some are more lucid: “Be one with us, run, or die!”

Government of India as well as State government cannot absolve of their responsibility for failing to protect the minuscule minority. They cannot squarely blame the terrorists for our exodus, because terrorists did their job but what about the state? State cannot escape the responsibility. For the last more than three decades are over and government seems to be in slumber, may be, we are not vote bank. Here let me be blunt enough to use harsh words because had the Govt. been serious enough to protect us, they would have acted but fact of the matter is that they (Gov.) has used we people as commodity, non-living items. They have used us as a shield to protect the nation without taking care of us. So far as the using of our community for nations` sake is alright but compromising on our issues is astonishing. Govt. has used it at international level as well and whenever they felt the need of using it. When the Kashmir issue is raised in UNO or any other international forum , KPs becomes the centre of news. When PM visted US , pm Modi met just three delgtions and Kashmiri Pandits were one among them.The KPs have become the victims of terrorism as a result of which they had to flee the place of their abode.  They are a part of the Vedic heartland of India and have lived in Kashmir from times immemorial. In fact, they are the original inhabitants of the valley of Kashmir, now reduced to an ethnic minority. While resisting the orchestrated moves fostered by Muslim communalists inside the state and their mentors in Pakistan to Islamise the State and snatch it from the Union of India, the KPs became the victims of communal hatred and faced hostility and ridicule.

Whatever be the variations in the circumstances of the K Ps` history, be their fate might have brought to them in the past, these all becomes insignificant in comparison to what has happened to them in 1989 and 1990 and thereafter. The  tragedy is compounded by fact that one of the  intelligent subtle and proud community of the country is being virtually reduced to extinction in free and secular India and this has not happened under the tyrannical rule of  ruthless rulers of Muhagl and Afghan Governors but under the leaders who are considered secular and liberal.

 The return of KPs is not a matter of survival but is of their living with honour. Everybody survives even creatures but the question is of the living and that too with honour and dignity. KPs have survived for the last 30 years despite all the hardships and impediments and will continue to survive further but the question is whether they will be allowed to live without fear and a sword hanging over them. I don’t see any problem in separate homeland for KPs. Those who oppose for the fear of it becoming an Israel and changing the demography of the Kashmir valley are deliberately misleading the people. How KPs can be relocated to their original places when these don’t exist. It is not Kashmiri Pandits thrown out of valley but the entire ethnic civilisation, remnants of more than 5000 years of Vedic civilisation and India’s existence challenged and ousted out. If Kashmiri Pandits would have been there, Mehbooba Mufti would not have dared to say that there will be no body to hold tri-colour high in valley. KP does not want for them selves. They exist for India and Live for India. It is for India Government to take call and to decide whether they want India’s existence there and if yes, then the solution is Homeland for Kashmiri Pandits.

The misfortune of our country is that we have leaders who have no regard for facts or truth and whose superficiality is matched only by their unprincipled politics. Poisonous seeds were persistently planted in the Kashmir psyche. And these were liberally fertilised. Those of whose obligation it was to stop these plantations and their fertilization were nurturing and encouraging. Those who oppose the return and rehabilitation of KPs to valley will be committing the sin of letting down the India in Kashmir. Their conscious may condone their negligence but not condone their sins of becoming hindrance to the return of exiled community to valley.     Driving out KPs out of valley was an onslaught more against India than Kashmiri Pandits. But unfortunately whole of India thought that it is the problem of Kashmiri Pandits and we are least bothered, The result is now visible and has spread throughout the Nation, It was a war against nation and KPs faced the first brunt.  


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