ashmiri Pandits are the original inhabitants of Kashmir. They created the civilization in the beautiful vale of Kashmir around 3000 B.C ; contributed to the glory of Hinduism and Buddhism.
In 1990 over 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits were forced to leave their homeland through a genocidal campaign unleashed by an Islamic movement. Nearly 3000 innocent Kashmiri Pandits were slaughtered and the entire community was uprooted from its ancestral land and this community today is struggling for its identity and existence. Once prosperous and proud of their heritage, Kashmiri Pandits became refugees in their own country and live the life of exiles . They are fighting a grim battle to save themselves from becoming extinct as a race and culture.
Internally Displaced Kashmir Pandits have been living as refugees in camps in squalid conditions in Jammu and in Delhi since 1990.The camps lack the basic amenities , proper medical care, educational provision and family support. More than 5000 persons have died in camps after their forced exodus from the Valley. They died of sunstrokes, gastroenteritis, typhoid and snake bites. Many of them suffer from heart attacks and stress induced diabetes and hypertension which have been mainly attributed to extreme psychological trauma and stress. The statistics reflect high death rate and low birth rate among the Kashmiri Pandit refugees.
Thousands of Kashmiri Pandit youths are getting scattered in various parts of the country in search of their livelihood and the cohesiveness of the families is fast disappearing. It is feared at the present rate of dispersal and losing its natural habitat the community is disintegrating beyond redemption and facing total extinction.
The Kashmiri Pandits living in the West are greatly concerned about the issues of Kashmiri Pandits’ extinction in Jammu and Kashmir and in the other parts of India due the conditions created by their forced exodus from the Valley. It is the prime responsibility of the State and the Central Governments to ensure the survival of this distinct minority’s race and culture .Both Governments should prepare a comprehensive blueprint for Kashmiri Pandits’ resettlement and rehabilitation in Kashmir. The displaced community with a distinct culture needs to be saved from the threat of extinction.
The world too has a stake in protecting this culturally rich, educated and peace loving community from becoming extinct.
Krishna Bhan is currently President of the Indo-European Kashmir Forum IEKF (based in the UK)
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