The self-styled seculars and liberals, as expected, blame BJP and the movie ‘The Kashmir Files’ for ‘weaponizing a tragedy’ aimed to make political gains and to incite communal feeling and Islamophobia amongst its viewers. They argue that instead of finding a ‘solution’ to the tragedy that happened in the past, the present-day Modi government is only interested in promoting the film and not their resettlement. They question why, if the Modi government is so supportive of the cause of the Kashmiri Pandits, they are not yet resettled even after eight years since 2014. Some even blame the BJP government as the main culprit and accuse it of not doing enough in the KP s case, i.e. they are not making any efforts towards the resettlement of the KPs. According to these souls, justice to the KPs is all about resettlement and nothing else.
Now let us examine the concept of Justice from the perspective of an average KP. For him, Justice implies that the Nation has to acknowledge that this kind of tragedy had happened to their community 30 years back. However, our mainstream political parties (except BJP) had done only lip service to their grievances to date. They were never willing to have a sympathetic view of their genuine and legitimate demands. Most importantly, none were ready to punish the perpetrators (like Bitta karate etc.) and the facilitators ( like Sheikh Abdula, Mufti Mohamed Syed, Hurriyat leaders etc.). Also, no sincere efforts were taken to understand and critically analyze the Islamic Jihadi doctrines and the resultant behaviour patterns that lead a large section of Kashmiri Muslim society to take up arms against their own Pandit neighbours.
Our KPs want the whole world to know what happened to them and why it happened and who were responsible for it, and most importantly, the ideology of violence and belief in Jihad inspired by the Islamic doctrine. They want the world to acknowledge and accept that they are the survivors and victims of the Jihadi terror. Their genocide and exodus happened because they were neither willing to convert (to Islam) nor were ready to die. If the world at large and Indians, in particular, can internalize this truth, it is the first step towards delivering justice to them.
Hence, even if it doesn’t help the KPs go back and settle there, the movie is a step in the right direction towards delivering Justice to the Jihadi victims of KPs.
The next question anyone would ask will be, why rehabilitation is not happening? What stops the Government and the KPs from going back and reclaiming their property and starting a new life there?
To answer that, we must understand the complex issue that leads to their exodus. The Jihadi ideology and armed violence compelled them to move out of the valley in 1990. Unfortunately, even though a lot of water has flown in Jhelum in the past 32 years, Kashmiri Muslims, in their collective capacity, are still holding the same Jihadi mental makeup as it was earlier. They still view these Kashmiri Pandits as a hindrance to their Pan Islamic agendas and anti-Indian convictions. These Kashmiri Muslims have never acknowledged their criminal behaviour that leads to KP exoduses, nor are they accepted their wrongdoings.
In other words, Kashmiri Muslims are as hostile to Pandits as they were in the 1990s, even if some amongst them make a few welcome gestures. Even if the behaviour of some of these Kashmiri Muslims had indeed changed, their underlying beliefs and convictions do not seem to have changed much.
Some well-intentioned souls were talking about constituting a Peace and Reconciliation Commission along the lines of Post-apartheid South Africa. However, in South Africa, such a commission could work and bring results because the perpetrators accepted their crimes and were ready to apologize to the victims. On the other hand, the victims were ready to forgive them as well. However, the issue here is that the vast majority of Kashmiri Muslims are refusing to accept the plain truth that they were collectively responsible for the Pandit exodus. They are unwilling to accept their own wrongdoings and are never willing to apologize to their Pandit neighbours.
This attitude and behaviour pattern of Kashmiri Muslims is not at all surprising. If you trace back the history, Muslims were never ready to accept their own faults and were never indulged in tendering an apology. In modern times, Islamists in Ottoman Turkey killed nearly 15 lakhs of Armenian Christians. Forget about an apology, Turks were not even ready to accept that such genocide happened. Similar is the story where they killed millions of Bengali Hindus in 1971.
Here, the Kashmiri Muslims are unwilling to apologize mainly because, according to them, whatever they had done was as per the Islamic belief system and the doctrine of Jihad. For Islamists, tendering an apology for the killing that happened in a Jihadi war is almost a blasphemy. They sincerely believe that such killings and genocide are part and parcel of a Jihadi endeavour and a necessary and unavoidable evil. Saying sorry for the genocide that happened on account of Jihad is like a repudiation of the idea of Jihad itself.
Any reconciliation and rehabilitation of Pandits can happen after accepting, acknowledging and apologizing for the crimes Kashmiri Muslims have committed and with a convincing promise that such criminal behaviour will not be repeated again. However, if one is a believer (in Islam), he simply cannot say sorry for a thing which his religion had mandated him to do. If he does so, it is like he is throwing off his Islamic beliefs and coming out of them as a human being. We cannot expect Kashmiri Muslims to shun their religious doctrine and turn towards enlightenment and humanitarian ideals in the foreseeable future.
Militancy had indeed been subsided and brought down to a large extent. Army and Paramilitary have a good presence in every nook and corner of the valley, even though the Kashmiri Muslims always exhibit a hostile attitude toward them. But no amount of military and Paramilitary can ensure foolproof security for every Pandit family who will be living there in a scattered manner amidst a sea of hostile Kashmiri Muslims. Therefore, unless the Jihadi ideology of the Kashmiri Muslims are defanged, we cannot ask Pandits to go back and live in their midst.
Therefore, unless Indian State can create a Special Pandit Zone (SPZ) on the outskirts of Srinagar or so, with a self-sustaining social and economic infrastructure, and the Pandits themselves are ready to live amidst hostilities and risk their lives, any efforts towards resettlement is going to be a futile exercise.