By Shuvait Koul
The views expressed are authors own, it does not necessarily reflect The Kashmir Walla’s editorial policy.
To me ‘Kashmir’ has always been a mystery word. The reason I say mystery will be abundantly clear as I proceed with this write up. My mystic romance with the valley is not just inferred from the fact that I hail from the place but essentially because the romance in this case comes more from lamentation. From the times that I can remember, an undying urge to return to the ‘homeland’ has been an inherent feature of my personality and I am sure that I share this trait with scores of other Kashmiri Pandits.
A Kashmiri Pandit, no matter wherever he lives, always finds himself in a vicious circle both culturally as well as geographically. It is startling to realize that a Pandit who would have been a kid during the terror stricken days in the late 1980s would be an adult now and effectively unaware of his birthplace and pedigree. The nastiest repercussion of this condition is that it will have a cascading effect on the generations to follow thereby resulting in further alienation.
After having faced genocide on their own soil, Pandits were left with one other option but to become refugees in their own country. About 60,000 families had to flee the valley to avert the threat of their lives. More than two decades after the outbreak of terror in Kashmir which principally took place on communal lines, the fundamental point remains that an average Kashmiri Pandit has been denied the basic right to remain attached to his roots. A flashback to the days of terror infliction on the religious minority namely ‘Pandits’ opens up a series of moot points. In the aftermath of the ethnic cleansing, the lack of political will of the successive governments at state and central levels has resulted in the failure to create conducive atmosphere for the return of Pandits.
Kneejerk reactions are given and untenable offers of return are extended but overall the authorities have always been apathetic towards addressing the real issue and the casualty is the ordinary KP. An extension of Prime Minister’s financial package which was undertaken by the centre only last year to facilitate the return of the displaced Pandits is a substantial example of the short sightedness of authorities when it comes to dealing with this fragile issue. The package suffers from multiple discrepancies and splits wide open the ‘cosmetic change’ approach of the polity. One wonders whether by extending financial parcels or by creating townships in the valley, the faith of a KP can be restored.
Moreover, it is the deliberate procrastinating stance of certain stake holders like the separatists that has put the Kashmir trouble on a more fragile trajectory than ever before. The dangerous kickback to this stage-managed ploy is that the Pandits are getting increasingly estranged from their homeland.
Today a considerable chunk of Kashmiri Pandit community may have flourished monetarily but the void still remains and is actually growing like a ‘Black Hole’. And if we talk about the other major chunk which has been languishing under temporary structures for years now in Jammu and outside, all we can say is that it is an ideal case study of ‘deplorability getting nourished under the umbrella of political double speak and sluggishness’.
The tormenting feeling of having had to flee the homeland has got into the very psyche of the Pandit community. The sensitivity of this issue has to be dealt with in a more veracious manner without allowing self-centered motivations of the separatist elements to overshadow the basic rights of KPs.
A Pandit wants to return to Kashmir but with dignity and honor to reunite with the land of which he is an integral part. The principle prerequisite for a respectable return is a politically and socially congenial environment. A strong political resolve is the key to social and communal accord in the valley.
While the mystery continues for me, the longing increases manifold. The question is not just of fusing back to my soil but of morality and rights which have so far not just been denied but annihilated also.
Shuvait Koul is a Freelance Writer and holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism from Times School of Journalism (TIMES GROUP). Although he is based in New Delhi, he belongs to Srinagar.
Thumbnail: Umar Ganie