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Why Kashmiri Pandits need a Separate Homeland?
1/20/2020 12:02:22 AM

Ravinder Jalali

Kashmiri Pandits was a microscopic miniscule minority in a Muslim majority Kashmir valley. They have distinct culture, race and language which find its traces to more than 5000 years back. Most of the Kashmiri Muslims are converts and therefore resemblances KPs in their traditions and language. Many of the Kashmiri Muslims have still Kashmiri Pandit’s caste/ title suffixed to their names. Though there are some similarities but there are many dissimilarities as well. The KPs have become the first victims of terrorism as a result of which they had to flee the place of their abode. They are a part of the Vedic heartland of India and have lived in Kashmir from times immemorial. In fact, they are the original inhabitants of the valley of Kashmir, now reduced to an ethnic minority. While resisting the orchestrated moves fostered by Muslim communalists inside the state and their mentors in Pakistan to Islamise the State and snatch it from the Union of India, the KPs became the victims of communal hatred and faced hostility and ridicule.
On 4th January, 1990, a local Urdu newspaper publishes a press release issued by Hizb-ul Mujahedeen, to wage jihad for J&K's secession from India and accession to Pakistan, asking all Hindus to pack up and leave. In the following days, there is near chaos in the Kashmir valley with Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and his NC government abdicating all responsibilities of the State. Masked men run amok, waving Kalashnikovs, shooting to kill and shouting anti-India slogans.
Reports of killing of Hindus, invariably Kashmiri Pandits, begin to trickle in; there were explosions; inflammatory speeches were made from the pulpits of mosques, using public address systems meant for calling the faithful to prayers. A terrifying fear psychosis began to take grip of Kashmiri Pandits. Walls are plastered with posters and handbills, summarily ordering all Kashmiris to strictly follow the Islamic dress code, prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks and imposing a ban on video parlours and cinemas. The masked men with Kalashnikovs force people to re-set their watches and clocks to Pakistan Standard Time. Notices are pasted on doors of many Pandit houses, peremptorily asking the occupants to leave Kashmir within 24 hours or face death and worse. Some are more lucid: "Be one with us, run, or die!"
On 19th January,1990, which is being observed as Holocaust Day every year by our community, Farooq Abdullah the then Chief Minister, whose pathetic and whimpering, government has ceased to exist and has gone into hiding, resigns and goes into a sulk. Curfew was imposed as a first measure to restore some semblance of law and order. But it failed to have a deterrent effect. Throughout the day, JKLF and Hizbul Mujahedeen terrorists use public address systems at mosques to exhort people to defy curfew and take to the streets. Masked men, firing from their Kalashnikovs, march up and down, terrorising Pandits who, by then, have locked themselves in their homes. As evening falls, the exhortations become louder and shriller. Three taped slogans were repeatedly played the whole night whatever be the variations in the circumstances of the K Ps` history, be their fate might have brought to them in the past, these all becomes insignificant in comparison to what has happened to them in 1989 and 1990 and thereafter. The return of KPs is not a matter of survival but is of their living with honour. Everybody survives even creatures but the question is of the living and that too with honour and dignity. KPs have survived for the last 26 years despite all the hardships and impediments and will continue to survive further but the question is whether they will be allowed to live without fear and a sword hanging over them. I don’t see any problem in separate homeland for KPs. Those who oppose for the fear of it becoming an Israel and changing the demography of the Kashmir valley are deliberately misleading the people. How KPs can be relocated to their original places when these don’t exist. Now why Separate Homeland? KPs do not want to go back to Islamic theocratic State but to a secular state as mentioned in the Indian constitution. In a separate homeland for KPs, as enshrined in the margdarshan resolution of 1991, the ethnicity, culture and heritage of KPs can be protected and preserved. Once the KPs will settle other thing will follow in place. The mixing of other communities can take place automatically as a part of confidence building measure. It will be the place where the tri colour will not be abused or desecrated. It will be the place where Republic Day and Independence Day will be celebrated with gaiety and full enthusiasm. There will be no shut down or curfew in the homeland on the Independence and Republic Days in response to call of the separatists.
The misfortune of our country is that we have leaders who have no regard for facts or truth and whose superficiality is matched only by their unprincipled politics. Poisonous seeds were persistently planted in the Kashmir psyche. And these were liberally fertilised. Those of whose obligation it was to stop these plantations and their fertilization were nurturing and encouraging.
Against the backdrop, there s no alternative but to have a separate Homeland for KPs, where they can live with honour and dignity, and without Damocles sword hanging at all times. Those who oppose the separate homeland for KPs will be committing the sin of letting down the India in Kashmir. Their conscious may condone their negligence but not condone their sins of becoming hindrance to the formation of a Separate Homeland for exiled community of KPs.
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