Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Kashmiri Pandits..banished from their own homes in their own country.

Kashmiri Pandits are Brahmin community from the Kashmir valley, but I am not using this term for that particular caste but for all Hindu community which once used to reside in this valley. This part is one of the most beautiful regions of India, with lot of beautiful mountains, valleys and lakes, stable and peaceful till partition happened in 1947 After that also largely it was very peaceful and tourism was one of the major business in this area. Every year lot of tourists used to visit this region, many Hindi movies were shot here, many songs of famous Hindi movie star Shammi Kapoor are filmed in Kashmir. Those days shooting abroad was not so easy and common, Kashmir valley provided much needed scenic locations for romantic movies and specially for songs. Kashmiri Pandits constituted approximately 14-15% of the population (during Dogra rule from 1846-1947). Valley population was dominated by Muslims during this time but there was peaceful co-existence of different faiths during all these years.

The major problem started sometime after 1985 or so, many separatist groups emerged and Kashmiri Pandit's became easy targets as largest minority in that region. Many of these militant groups with their demand of independence from India or demand of merger with Pakistan started terrorizing people by spreading violence. Kashmiri Pandits (in general non-Muslims) were specifically targeted because they were in minority. Targeted killing of many people from their community naturally spread fear among them, government's failure to control these killings and provide required protection to these people resulted in fleeing of these people from valley. These people were victims of lot of cruelty and brutality which happens during any communal riot. These families left their ancestral home, land, culture, identity all behind and moved to different parts of India, after all they have to save their lives. They mainly migrated to parts of Jammu and Delhi, even though it was in same state of country they were uprooted from their home and culture. I am sure many of them hoped that this was some temporary madness which will go away and they will be able to return to their homes and live their original life again peacefully. But, sadly it never happened. According to different different estimates around 100 to 200 thousand people migrated away from valley because of this insurgency. This brutal and targeted killing and displacement of Kashmiri Hindus is not less that any other communal riot in India, perpetrators of this crime should be punished. Respective governments (state and national) should apologize to all affected people for their failure to protect them and every effort should be made to reestablish these victims in their own homeland.

This is as serious issue like any other riot or massacre in India or in world, but unfortunately it hardly gets any mention in main stream media. Everyone agrees that there is a problem but no one is willing to discuss or to show any willingness to solve it. No one is held accountable for this, like any other communal riot we are expected to forget this incident and move on with our lives. But how these people who got uprooted from their culture and land will move on? How can they forget all the trauma and pain which they endured all these years waiting for justice? Can we just tell them that we tried our best but nothing can be done now? Is it enough to heal their wounds? Their exodus from Kashmir valley is very sad and hear wrenching story. You can understand the seriousness of this problem only when you talk with those people listen to their stories. Mere words are not enough to explain that pain and anguish of these people. These people were banished from their own homes, uprooted from their own culture, were murdered and victimized for no fault of theirs but their own government couldn't do anything to protect them. Unfortunately this issue (along with many other similar issues) is heavily politicized because of so many political angles involved in this. Some parties (like BJP or Congress) raise this issue but they never pursue it enough to take it to any logical conclusion. But they all are only interested in taking political benefits which come by exploiting these type of issues. Sometimes it's really sickening to see how these political parties play dirty political game using some of these unfortunate incidents where thousands of people suffered for no fault of theirs.

As I wrote in one of my previous post that recalling memories of any tragedy, communal riot or massacre is not a pleasant experience, but when we see so many people still suffering and waiting for justice to be delivered to them how can we remain silent as if nothing happened? How can we tell them to forged everything and move on? Is our system has become so weak and impotent that we can not punish the real culprits? Or we don't want to punish them because of some political equations involved in these type of so called issues? Does our society believes that minority need to always surrender before demands of majority and if they don't then they need to leave or die? Are we going to react to massacres or communal riots based on people from which religion die in these incidents? For me any communal violence is a disgusting and shameful act, I don't check how many Hindus or Muslims died and base my reaction on that. This issue of Kashmiri Pandits is equally important as 1984 riots or 2002 riots or any other riot in history. Every riot victim deserves total justice and at least an apology from the administration which failed to protect them. There cannot be any exception to this and as a society as long as we don't achieve this our struggle continues.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Links:
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kashmiri_Pandit

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