Kashmiri Pandits: What Happened To Them?
By Rayees Rasool
28 January, 2015
The heartsore tale of the migration of Kashmiri Pandits is too difficult to narrate or it is very difficult for a common man in India to understand the depth of the situation which pevailed at that time. It is very difficult to draw lines between the relationships of two communities who suffered a lot during the struggle.
In 1987, after the rigging of elections by New Delhi to establish their chosen rule of law thousands of Kashmiri Pandits’ left their homes in 1990, putting forth an image of sufferings faced by the community to abandon their homeland. On the other hand, the account of those Kashmiri Pandits’ who stayed back in Kashmir contradict the claims made by Pandits’ living in Jammu and in different states of India, Who say that Kashmiri Pandits’ suffered ‘a genocide’ and were forced ‘into exile’.
Now even if we go into the depth of both the terms they are contradictory in their meaning and what happened in 1989-90. The use of language and words are very important in documenting the events, facts and testimonials in any poltical struggle. It builds the consciousness of future generations.
‘Exile’ means to bar someone from entering his native country, while as Kashmiri Pandits were never stopped by anyone to visit their homeland and over that they have always been welcomed by Kashmiris It was migration rather voluntarily departure, which most of the Pandits would deny.
Term ‘Genocide’ denotes the mass killing, massacre, racial killing or ethnic cleansing and here it again contradicts the statement of ‘genocide’ done to Kashmiri Pandits.
On the other hand India carried out innumerable mass rapes, mass killings, massacres, enforced disappearances, fake encounters of Kashmiri Muslims. Sikhs in Pathribal also suffered massacre at the hands of the Indian Army.
India witnessed a huge momentum and a large support building for the demand of Right to Self Determination. Getting frustrated with the people’s support to such legitimate demands, India put Kashmir under the governor rule and added to the strength of armed forces to quell the popular struggle. The then governor Jagmohan gave free hand to Indian ‘Security forces’ to carry out massacres and burn down the valley’s. All these events and killings of top Kashmiri Pandit figures who were labeled as spy’s of the Indian state made Kashmiri Pandit’s insecure . This gave rise to mass migration and Kashmiri Pandits’ started leaving the valley. And the departure was facilitated by Jagmohan.
The situation in general was very confusing and ugly. One was not sure about one’s own security and under those circumstances it was very tough for Kashmiri Muslims to ask the Pandits stay back and guarantee their safety. However, many Pro-freedom leaders Shakeel Bakshi, Dr. Qazi NIsar, Abul Majeed Wani, Ghulam Mohammad Dar. Kabir Shiekh and others intervened and even went after till Qazigund asking them to stay back. Even Wajhat Habibullah mentions that there were large number of Muslims who made many efforts for stopping this migration.
No one will ever disagree with the fact that they have faced immense trauma by living as refugees in their own nation (Jammu Kashmir). The humiliation often came from the surrounding communities who never welcomed them. The onus lies with the government of India which deliberately made them suffer. Indian Government was fuelling fire which generated hatred and anger against their Muslim brethren.
They are living with the fear of losing their cultural identity, which the Kashmiri nation is known for. We have lived together for centuries. Despite alien rulers from the last four centuries Kashmir was an example of communal harmony. We have temples, mosques and gurudawars together. History stood a testimony to the fact that Kashmiris stood united against all the communal forces even when the neigbours (India and Pakistan) were witnessing Communaly disturbed environment. Though one can always argue that the move was politically motivated rather than religious, though the blame games are played on both the sides. The Truth, i wonder who decides that with none ready to abandon the rigidity.
Kashmiri Pandits are as Kashmiris as we are, this nation belongs to them as much as it belongs to us.
Rayees Rasool is Project Coordinator, Criminal Justice Initiative , Human Rights Law Network, New Delhi
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