For the mainstream Indian mindset on Kashmir, the land called Kashmir is an Indian property which should be protected and remain with India at any cost. The use of military is to protect this property. For them it is assumed this property might be grabbed away by the indigenous Kashmiris who are inspired by a neighboring country. It is never understood by them that Kashmir which is under the control of six lakh army personal, still encounters a situation where thousands of people come out on streets. Even logically speaking a mere foreign hand cannot instigate such large number of people to express their disenchantment in presence of such large number of military force. This is with complete knowing of the fact that they may die, become blind or get injurious. The logic used by them that if people come out on streets, it is natural for military to take action is dubious. Then what about the countless killings of unarmed people including the innocent, rapes of unarmed women reported by human rights groups even at times when such protests were not open.
The argument put forward by this so called mainstream is that about the status of Kashmiri pandits. Aren’t they part and parcel of Kashmir?What were the critics doing then? Yes they are part and parcel of Kashmir. The mass migration happened out of fear during the peak of militancy. Fear of spying led to killings of some Kashmiri pandits. The fear and threat led to migration. There was also the role of Jagmohan the Governor who tried to give it a communal touch. Migration also happened with some sections of Muslims. Yes, instances of mistrust continue between Kashmiris and Kashmiri Pandits. At the same time it is also true that mistrust exists among Kashmiris with the Indian state too. Kashmiris are disenchanted with Indian state, the fact which cannot be pushed into the dustbin by the so called ‘Nationalists’ or ‘Indian mainstream’. It is important for them to recognize that.
From the readings of some Kashmiri sections, it is clear that even the militant groups are not against the Kashmiri pandits coming back to Kashmir. They have a welcoming approach towards them. There have been constructive engagements with Kashmiri pandits to come back to Kashmir. They consider them as part and parcel of Kashmir.
But these positive engagements neither are not shown in Indian mainstream media nor reported. Definitely ‘Kashmiriyat’ is a much more secular and accommodative concept and calls for co-existence. This is unlike ‘Hindu Rashtra’ where other religious groups can only enjoy a second grade status. There are efforts being made out by Kashmiri sections to reach out to Kashmiri Pandits. But whether the Indian mainstream or the ‘Hindutva’ brigadeis making a similar effort to reach out to Kashmiris, not just kashimiripandits based on their religious identity. The answer is a definite no.
Moreover, Indian mainstream is creating this binary between Kashmiri and Kashmiri Pandits, Hindus and Muslims. Kashmiriyat definitely is not about Hindus and Muslims, which Indian mainstream seems to think of. Like the Hindu rightwing playing out Hindu-Muslim differences in Indian Mainland, a similar approach is being adopted in Kashmir. Ideas of creating ghettos for Kashmiri pandits are being propagated by the Indian government for resettlement of Kashmiri pandits. Large sections of Kashmiris have been trying to put across the point that Kashmiri pandits are part and parcel of Kashmir. There is no need for ghettoization. They consider them part of their own.
Will out ‘nationalists’ have a similar accommodative approach towards our minorities. Are they willing to reach out to protesting Kashmiris, listen to them and understand them. This is instead of playing a Hindu-Muslim, Kashmiri-Kashmiri pandit card.
About the Author:T. Navin works with an NGO as a Researcher. He did his M.Phil from Centre for Political Studies in Jawaharlal Nehru University.