Some years back, I along with a group of Kashmiri Pandits got a chance to meet one of the top most politician (name withheld) of J&k and spent good two hours discussing Kashmir and its people. The politician looked keen to involve Kashmiri Pandits in the politics of Jammu and Kashmir. At that time the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir was Mr. Mufti Mohammed sayeed and his government had initiated and build condominiums for the migrant Kashmiri Pandits at Budgam. The senior politician candidly told us that there is a section of Kashmiri Muslims who is opposing the return of Pandits vitriolically as they have illegally captured the properties of Kashmiri Pandits .This politician also told us about the incapability of arresting the culprits by the administration as that can turn into a political Blunder. At that time,T.V and print media were also aggressively promoting the new found bonhomie between the two communities of Kashmir and many pundits even showed interest to go back to Kashmir and live in those flats.
PDP was signaling and conveying through different modes to Pandits to come back to Kashmir as they claimed that normalcy has returned to Kashmir, The other political heavyweight Mr. Faroq Abdullah in the meantime visited Kashmiri Pandits at Misriwala Camp, jammu and warned them not to return to Kashmir as Things were not congenial for the return of Pandits to valley. But sure That time around 2007 things looked more normal ….
During that time ,A KP friend of mine even bought a piece of land in Kashmir and was interested in building a new house, but it proved to be a Bubble waiting to be busted as after a year or two the Amarnath Land row agitation unveiled the curtains of hatred and showed the ugly facet of religious intolerance and rift- which was already present somewhere between Hindus and Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir. The spoilsport was played by Syed ali shah Geelani, a known xenophobiac , who played the role of a Demagogue and claimed that India is Building a colony in Baltal and told his followers that very soon by these tactics the Majority population will be Marginalized by Indian population, PDP also did not left any stone unturned and tacitly and sometimes openly supported Geelani and company.
Then came the Jammu and Kashmir elections and people of Jammu and Kashmir come out in Large numbers for voting which culminated in Mr.Omar Abdullah becoming the youngest Chief Minister of J&k. Many KP’s also tried their luck and jumped into the fray of electoral battle but all had to bite the dust. Not a Single KP won and not only that ,most the KP’s who had contested elections lost their security deposits, Even the traditional Habba Kadal seat was also lost which was otherwise considered to be a KP stronghold.
Now after a long Gap, the politics of Kashmir saw two new K.P entrants, a 52 year old housewife Ashajee, a Kashmiri Pandit , who was elected a Panch from Wussan village in Baramullah, and last week another Kashmiri Pandit ,Shri Makhan lal Zutshi was also elected Panch and that too unopposed from village Tahab,Pulwama. Their victory made Headlines in many newspapers and many congratulated them including me. But their victory also unfolded the untold story of political alienation which the KP’s have been facing since long.one of the reasons for exodus of Kashmiri Pandits was Political marginalization since KP’s do not have any political power in Jand K. lack of political will by the leading political parties of J&K was another reason for not taking any appropriate steps to bring back KP’s in the political fold at least since last two decades .
There are 4130 Sarpanchs(Kashmir-2164, Jammu-1966) 29719 Panchs(Kashmir-15959,Jammu-13760) number of Block Panchayats-143(Kashmir-77, Jammu-66) and 22 District Panchayats. Out of the given figure above two Kashmiri Pandits made it and became Panchs!!! What is this news conveying ? Is it the dawn of the political rebirth of Pandits or the Remnants of political decadence?
2 out of 29719 comes to 0.006%, Is this an achievement or shame!!! I will definitely term it as a big shame,a joke on the part of democracy…It is believed that the population of Kashmiri Pandits is no less than 7 Lakhs !!! though ,no survey has been done regarding the exact population of KP’s since many decades ,However there is a statistics(old) with JK government, but that is questionable and hence not authentic.
it has been reported by a section of Kashmiri Muslims who were architects of the exodus of K.P’s that there has been no Genocide of K.P’s, no one ousted K.P’s from Kashmir, Only Indian Army looted the houses of Kashmiri Pandits who left for safer places, No one destroyed the temples of Hindus of Kashmir but nobody can explain how and why the temples were broken!!!, Kashmiri pundits were lured by Jagmohan to leave Kashmir and leave their palatial Bunglows and Multi-crore properties only to live in tattered camps and get mindboggling Rs 800/family as assistance!!!
Coming back to panchayti elections, a Political section wants to project the news of KP’s winning panchayti elections as news which reflects political empowerment of K.P’s, But that is not. Elsewhere in India, becoming a panch or even a sarpanch does not make any ripples, but we are talking about Kashmir, that Kashmir which had a population of one million K.P’s in early twenth century and today not even 4000 are left , That is why two KP’s becoming Panchs have made Headlines…..But on the other side their victory has also stated without a word the general condition of Pandits and their story of last 21 years……