By Prof. Gopi Kishen Muju…
Kashmiri Pandits had placed very high hopes upon the present National Conference led coalition Government in giving the community at least some representation in the State Cabinet, but unfortunately the community feels let down and disappointed on this account. One can remember many occasions like the one of Shiv Ratri Milan organized by Shri Vijay Bakaya at Sidhra (a simple function turned into a full fledged political meeting) wherein Dr. Farooq Abdullh warned K.Ps. not to let down or disown Mr. Bakaya by saying that “he is not our leader” as the community had done in case of some K.P leaders in the past. Dr, Abdullah claimed that he had now “given a leader to the community” and the community must give him due recognition.. He made [u1] a similar announcement over a function in the Abhinav Threatre, Jammu and even on some other occasions. What has happened to those commitments ? The community had been waiting for the day when Mr. Bakaya would be included in the expanded ministry. But alas! Hopes have been belied. Even if Mr. Bakaya is included now the move will have lost most of its grace, taste and shine. Very sad indeed ! The K.P .Community in general an Mr. Vijay Bakaya in particular have been let down. But Why.? If he was not to be included why to project his name. Obviously Bakaya had not asked for it ; he was offered or at least assured and promised. Does it indicate that the Party Presidenthas lost control over the party in government formation ?
The day Mr Bakaya joined N.C. a good section of K. Ps had placed hopes in him as their representative in the party and the government, though there were other K.P. members and workers in the party who too would like to be in the forefront regarding K.P.s problems. Also many other intellectuals, academicians and public spirited people had decided to join the party and give it due support taking it to be the only regional party with secular ideology Some were even in contact with the party leaders over the issue, though there was no positive response to their initiative from the party; but now after seeing what place a K.P. has in the present set up in the party and the government they are in a fix about their next move, and are forced to think afresh..
There was a time when the community had given stalwart M.P.s to the nation, Central Ministers at the Central Government level and Ministers in the State government ,diplomats and ambassadors, but now the community feels completely ignored and neglected. This should not have happened at least in the time of Dr. Farooq Abdullah. But what has happened has happened. Though it is said all is well that ends well and anything is expected in politics, but for a K.P.Community a place in the State Cabinet, a couple of seats in the legislature or suitable places in the Boards and Commissions can be claimed by it as a matter of right being a miniscule minority, a victim of militancy and original inhabitants of the land. Such positions cannot be given as of gratis or as a matter of grace but are to be claimed as a matter of right. But if this right is not delivered in time or in a right manner or is denied nothing can prove more disturbing, damaging, irrational , illogical and violation of fundamental rights. The community obviously has been made to face all the denials possible.
It is a fact that a K.P cannot get elected to any seat on his own; but all the same the community cannotbe made to live upon the mercy of others or to beg for its rights. So the community has to be provided some Constitutional Guarantees. A list of some of these Constitutional Guarantees for the Kashmiri Pandits ,Hindus and other regional minorities have been communicated to the State Government and the Central Government and the National Commission for Minorities as back as in December 1998 in a memorandum by the Kashmiri Hindu Minority Conference (Now renamed as Jammu and Kashmir Regional Minorities Conference).These demands have been duly recommended to the State and Central Governments by the National Commission for Minorities in January 1999. Unfortunately no action has been taken in the matter. Had the Government taken action upon the matter perhaps the community would not have to face the humiliating situation which it has been made to face today. It is still open for the government to take cognizance of these demands and act.
Some skeptics have raised a question as to what could a K. P.in the Ministry do for the community. Of course very little because he had to follow the policy of the government and the party. And very unfortunately both the Government ( Central as well as the State) and the political parties in the State have no place or policy for the K.Ps except to use and exploit them for their own ends. The community has been exploited at each and every level But it would have a psychological satisfaction, a commitment to secular constitution and real Kashniriat if a K.P. too would have been included in the State Ministry. He could at least present the issues of the community in the Cabinet, perhaps in a better and right way.
One wonders how Mr. Bakaya. has taken this humiliation and belying of hopes. His name has been dragged into a sort of unwarranted controversy One feels shy in talking over the issue to him. Ch. Mohd Aslam felt disgruntled over his non-inclusion and went to the Congress High Command with his complaint. To whom will Bakaya complin ? and why? . He must not feel disappointed or disgruntled Rather he had never asked for a Cabinet berth ; he only expected one which was assured to him It is the community which feels sad and betrayed.
In light of this let down a humble suggestion would be that Bakaya must immediately resign from the Legislative Council to which too he got elected very sensitively in a keen contest, and to quote Dr. Abdullah “what would have been the scene at Shivratri Milan if, God forbid, Bakaya would have “pyomut” lost the (Council) election”. This suggestion would not be made to him, had his name not been mentioned by Dr. Farrooq Abdullah himself and had he not been declared and projected as a would be representative of the Community in the Government. Even if the promise is fulfilled now it has lost the grace and taste. Let Mr. Bakaya rise to the occasion and demonstrate his caliber. Individuality, self respect and strength of the character of a real Kashmiri Pandit and , as a protest, resign from the Legislative Council.(GKM)