With- Narendra bhai Modi-becoming the Prime Minister of India, suddenly Kashmiri Pandit’s hopes to re-claim their Homeland has risen sharply. The optimism shown by the BJP’s leadership to rehabilitate KP’s in the valley with full honor and dignity, has opened a new chapter for the exiled community. The possible return to their land looks realistic for the first time. KP’s unanimously welcome this decision. After almost 25 years, suddenly the smell of their land has intensified their urge to go back to their roots. The tall Mountains of the valley, it seems are beckoning the KP’s to come back. The echoes of their vibrant past are still resonating in the womb of the valley. So are the memories of the gory incidents that made way for their forced-exodus.
Kashmiri Pandits did not left the valley because of better future viz-a-viz professional career or better Business opportunities, but out of the fear of Death that came in the form of the bullets from the guns of Terrorists. They left the valley to safeguard the honor and dignity of their women-folk. They left because the then Chief-Minister of J&k- Mr.Farooq Abdullah abdicated his duties and gave a free hand to the Pakistani-backed Militants. And most of the KP’s who left in early 1990 had never thought that they won’t be able to come back even after 24 years!
It has been a total failure on the part of congress(i), National conference and PDP to rehabilitate KP’s back to the land of their ancestors. Because KP’s don’t form a substantial vote-bank does not mean that the Kashmir-centric political parties keep on exploiting KP’s just to keep their vote bank happy.
It is an irony that in spite of a population of more than 4 lakh(estimate population of KP’s is between 4-7lakh) their vote-power can not assure even a single Legislative assembly seat. Such is the deliberate design of the assembly and lok sabha constituencies in J&K. The population of the Ladakh region is less than the population of KP’s but still one M.P(Member of parliament) seat is assured from that area.
Few days back , a news appeared in some newspapers that the GOI is mulling of settling KP’s in three townships (in Anantnag, Srinagar and baramullah). The intended tri-colonies will only trifurcate the community. The infamous 7 exoduses of Kashmir should be taken into consideration before any decision on the return and rehabilitation is considered. The leaders of the community should be heard. The leaders who have any affiliation to the valley-centric political parties should be ignored as they will only push the agenda of their respective parties. Even the leaders affiliated to congress(i) should be given a cold-shoulder as none of the kashmiri pundits support them, and a majority of the KP’s feel cheated by this party.
If the news of the return is true, then May I ask with all the humility that Why should KP’s be settled in 3 townships instead of a single concentrated township. The strength and confidence of KP’s will increase tremendously if they are re-settled in a single township, instead of three. Only those who oppose covertly the return of KP’s into the valley are suggesting with the quixotic plans, and using flowery phrases like Kashmiriyat.
With the so-called-kashmiriyat becoming a cliché, a bedizen, KP no longer believe in this adjective/synonym for secularism. The demagogues of Kashmir know it too well that the actions of 1990 by terrorists and an eerie silence by the majority at that time, will not let KP’s return and live in the valley, as they once used to. Hence the trite Kashmiriyat is repeated by the politicians of Kashmir just to discourage the pundits to re-claim their lost lands and usurp their lands and properties. To counter this, Again, there is one solution. Rehabilitate all KP’s in one area.
Time has proved that the valley based political parties have used “Religion” as a tool to polarize the Kashmiri-Society. With Muslims forming the majority of the population, they will repeat the time-tested policy of marginalizing the pundits in every possible way. This invidious distinction between the two communities have been executed by the Political parties/Monarchs of Kashmir both tacitly as well as blatantly, depending upon the time since last 8-9 hundred years. The 7 exoduses of the kashmiri pundits are the result of such policies that were followed by the ruling class of Kashmir, as KP’s were bereft of any political power. Political empowerment of KP’s is the solution to arrest such happenings in future.
The last exodus(1990-till date) should hopefully be the last one for the KP’s. Just to be sure, that history of their exodus is not repeated, they need to be re-settled at one place and given political power as well. Let GOI too follow an old adage – “united we stand, divided we fall”. Let them make KP’s united forever in the land of their ancestors-Kashmir. Instead of dividing KP’s, Let GOI give our community a collective voice. And a secured future.