19 January 2012 will complete 22 years in exile for Kashmiri Pandits(KP).This minority community of Kashmir were forced to leave their hearth and Homes 22 years back as there was total anarchy and oglocracy in Kashmir. some rabid , religious fundamental zealots were on rampage and Target shooting of KP’s had become their Hobby.In this whole chaos KP homes were plundered and some pyromaniacs set many KP houses on fire. All this happened on the name of Jihad.
At least 4 lakh KP’s left their homeland in the chilling nights of jan 1990 to safeguard their lives, honor and dignity. Today this beleaguered community is scattered all over world-Thanks to Govt. Apathy-with majority of Kp’s dwelling in India particularly Jammu and Delhi Region.
Even after 22 years GOI has no blue print to bring back KP’s to their Homeland-Kashmir. GOI has negated the fact that KP’s are refugees in their own country, they better call KP’s Internally Displaced. Technically or terminologically they may be right but this terminology is more of a Hogwash, a misnomer as “Internally displaced” tag of KP’s misleads one to think that Govt. is going to reverse the migration of KP’s from Kashmir. Till today-even after 22 years nothing has happened.
Post 1990,The successive governments led by either National conference or PDP, came to power in J&K with the support of congress(i), have been pre-occupied with other things and most of their activities are executed with one thing in mind-to increase the vote bank-Unfortunately KP’s do not form any sizeable vote bank and thus the Rights of KP’s have been depredated from time to time, especially since Jan 1990.
Jammu region has a majority of Hindu population and overall in J&K, Hindus constitute around 30% of the total population. Being a Muslim majority state most of the policies are majority centric. Hindus of J& K have felt disadvantageous at many times, particularly in Govt. employments, they also don’t get the subsidies which their counterparts enjoy in Kashmir. Till today there has not been a single Hindu who has made it to become the chief Minister of J&K.
Religion and Culture are the bipods of healthy community, Jammu being a Hindu majority Region has given ample scope to everyone to practice their religion and Culture unlike Kashmir where KP’s faced the brunt of religious apartheid.
Today, K.P’s stand at crossroads, their homeland is so near still so far, their culture and religion is at the brink of extinction, their identity is being erased slowly by the polity of that Nation for which they were killed, raped, hounded and exiled. The need of the Hour is to preserve the unique culture and identity of KP’s, the unique identity that was soul of Kashmir, all that can happen only when KP’s come back to Kashmir-Their motherland .
The million dollar question arises,” can they come back to Kashmir and live as they used to?” the answer is a big “NO”. Most of the houses belonging to KP’s have been either sold out in distress, or they have been burnt down or they have been illegally captured by nefarious elements backed either by Govt. Machinery or Pakistan backed terrorists. The fact is they have nowhere to go if they come back to Kashmir.
Government knows this important point, they have in fact built some ghettos for KP’s where some Kp’s are residing, particularly those who were given jobs in Kashmir, Some of these KP’s have alleged that 4-5 people share a common room in these Ghettos and many basic facilities are missing in these government flats. These temporary ghettos are not a answer for reverse migration of KP’s. This way religious freedom and cultural identity of KP’s cannot be preserved. Anyways Ghettos give a feeling of being a alien.
The other viable solution is a separate homeland which is most popularly known as “Panun Kashmir”. This Homeland can preserve the religion, culture and identity of KP’s for generations. Panun Kashmir is a Homeland demand of KP’s that will enjoy a union territory status like Chandigarh and all those will be welcomed here who believe in India and Indian constitution.
For some reasons the present Govt. is opposing this demand also. Some of the govt. agencies have twisted the concept of Homeland of KP’s as sacrilegious and projected this demand akin to accession of Kashmir with Pakistan.
In either ways the Govt’s apathy is driving KP’s to oblivion. Govt at State or at center should make it a point that KP’s are brought back to Kashmir.22 years has passed and nothing concrete has been done to preserve the identity of Kashmiri Pandits. These 22 years have made me believe slowly but steadily that in future also Govt. will not do anything except wait and watch.
Tibetans have been given infrastructure, environment and everything else by the Indian Govt. just to protect their identity whereas KP’s have been deprived everything that can preserve their religion and culture. I have come to this conclusion that Govt. should now do one last favor to KP’s- Declare KP’s as Refugees and let KP’s reach out to other countries who have laws to protect the religious freedom and culture. At least that way cohesiveness of KP’s will prevail and their culture and religion will be saved.
I will be more than happy if my conclusion will be proven wrong by Govt’s deeds in coming 365 days.