Intro : The exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits from the valley was no less in tragedy and horror. Fearing violence, and given the complexcity involved in their rehabiliation, they have demanded a separate Union Territory of Panun Kashmir.
Kashmiri Pandit community is perhaps the largest one in the world who is living as refugees in their own country. In the early 1990s the entire world witnessed the genocide of this community and acted like a mute spectator. Pandits were murdered; Kashmiriyat was murdered and the land of Rishi Kashyap mourned the murder of its cultural values which were nourished over the centuries. The incidence widened the rift as it created a trust deficit among the Muslim and Pandit community in the valley as the former didn’t come forward to help the later when they needed it most.
The government can consider the following points as part of the rehabilitation policy
Post 1990 many promises have been made for rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits but no substantial measures have been taken to ensure the safe homecoming of the Pandits. Had the central and state government taken concrete and definitive measures, the Pandits would have returned from the exile. It was appalling when those who committed the crime against humanity are still roaming free and the government still invited them over the discussion table just to appease certain sections of the society. National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has shown its commitment towards the rehabilitation but the question is how they are going to implement it when Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with whom it is sharing power in J&K is opposed to Centre’s idea. Meanwhile, the hardliners in the Kashmir are changing their colour like a chameleon and they have started raising their voice against the proposed plan and even elected representatives like Engineer Rashid are adding fuel to the fire. Initially Hindus were targeted and after eliminating them Sikhs were massacred and the Jihadi plan of ethnic cleansing was executed very carefully. Armed insurgency in the valley was a result of well thought strategy designed by Pakistan based groups under which they successfully brainwashed the majority community of the Kashmir. Religious fanaticism reached its peak and anti-India elements used the fancy word of self-determination “Azadi” to provoke the sentiments of the Kashmiris. The previous governments mishandled the situation and this entire episode dented the secular image of our country.
In the past two and half decades only one Pandit family has settled down in the valley and the youth who have taken employment with the state government haven’t taken their family back with them. So the return of the exiled community can’t be linked with money or job only. Rehabilitation of the Pandits is not an economic issue but it’s a communal one and the community needs to be assured about their security before rehabiliation.
Our generosity has been considered as our weakness and it should stop now. As Sayeed Ali Shah Geelani of Hurriyat Conference and Yasin Malik of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) have started spitting venom against the proposed resettlement of the exiled community, it’s time to send a clear message that it’s over and India will not bow to their pressure tactics. The new government’s initiatives have given a healing touch to the wounds of the Pandits and now they have great expectations from Modi.
Shshank Saurav (The writer is a Chartered Accountant)