Jammu and Kashmir is host to two concurrent separatist movements. One is led by a loosely-defined conglomeration of the Hurriyat leadership some among them demanding self-rule and others seeking subservience to Pakistan. Vocal and unpretentious, they all want to turn the valley into a caliphate.
The other separatist movement can be attributed to the KPs’ forced exodus from the valley. Determined to reverse the excesses committed against their hapless community by the evil forces of radical Islam and their regressive fundamentalist ideology, the movement was started by a group of committed young and energetic Kashmiri Pandits. It began as a solemn mission to unite the community behind their demand for a separate homeland a cause that seemed noble at first but has since degenerated into a malicious exercise of politicking against those that don’t subscribe to the views held by the leadership at PK.
Based on a ludicrous belief that the Hindus and Muslims can’t live together and must, therefore, find separate abodes, the demand for a separate homeland is tantamount to validation of Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s “Two Nation theory.”
For a demand to be credible, it must also be equitable. Unrealistic demand for a separate homeland for the Pandits is so out of proportion to the size of the community that it’s deemed outrageous. Wandering through the maze of time for over two decades, ‘Margdarshan’ and with it, the outlandish declaration enshrined in it has lost its way. Generations have passed since the homeland demand was first deliberated. But there is seen no progress, let alone any successful resolution. In its infinite wisdom, the leadership has consistently refused to re-examine its position vis-à-vis the reality on the ground.
On the issue of composite settlements in the valley, there is a convergence of opinion between the separatists and PK both opposing the government’s proposed rehabilitation plan for their respective self-interests. It’s understandable if the separatists would claim victory for the government’s retraction of the plan, but how sad that PK should attribute that action to the BJP yielding ground to the separatists.
Failing to recognize our puny headcount which has always stood against us as an inconsequential vote bank, the leadership at PK has remained obstinate steadfastly refusing to acknowledge the unique geopolitical challenges facing us. Among them are the reality of universally abhorred Article 370, a fragile thread that holds the state tethered to the Indian Union, and an overwhelming Muslim majority in the valley that, as a religious minority in India, has enjoyed an exalted status since independence.
Standing like a rock against all rehabilitation efforts that didn't include separate homeland, many would find PK's unrelenting position detrimental to the broader interests of the migrant community. Herding the flock away from practical solutions, PK may have contributed to the ongoing plight of those that are still awaiting return to the valley. The only success it can claim is burning its bridges with each successive government at the Center unmindful that without its blessings even a rational demand would find no sympathizers.
Eye-witness accounts pouring in from the recent Mission 5000 protest held in Delhi have turned a spotlight on the unsavory activities of a few that espouse the idea of a separate homeland. Their wayward behavior during event planning and afterwards should be an embarrassment and impetus, particularly to the PK leadership, to reign-in their representatives who failed to abide by the norms of protocol during the protest. If the reports are true that the KSD leadership encouraged the community to boycott the rally at Jantar Mantar, the unscrupulous have shown the depth of the rift that divides our community.
It’s easy to, as Rahul Pandita did, accuse the Sangh Parivar of ‘dubious role-playing’ in Kashmir backtracking on creating a separate township for the Pandits. Do we belong to a thankless community that has so easily forgotten the immense contribution the ‘Parivar’ made in helping our traumatized migrants stabilize? How can we forget their selfless service in furthering our migrant children's education in states allied to the BJP getting them admissions to professional colleges?
It’s PK’s own questionable role that preceded the government’s decision which Mr. Pandita may have overlooked. How else can the retraction be explained other than by the fact that both, PK and the Hurriyat two primary stakeholders independently scheming to defeat the initiative came out openly and strongly against setting up such townships? Each time it proclaims that the BJP government is focused on destabilizing, demoralizing and disintegrating the migrant community, PK undermines its own credibility.
Not everyone subscribes to the ideals that Panun Kashmir has set for itself. When will they stop seeing conspiracies against them everywhere they look? More importantly, when will they accept responsibility for misleading the unsuspecting community with such statements as, “Time has now come when the Seed of Panun Kashmir sown in after exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from their land of ancestors has starting germinating into seedling…” by Dr. Ajay Chrangoo. If it took quarter of a century for the seed to germinate, may one ask how long will it take the seedling to become a tree? By then, will the community that’s patiently waiting to return still exist?
Transparency and introspection are the hallmarks of respectable and mature organizations; PK’s ‘movement for a cause’ is no different. To be seen credible, PK must come out with a white paper, sharing with the community its tangible achievements in ‘simple to understand’ terms, and without hogwash. It must also stop accusing others of being the fifth columnists lest the accused should start wondering if the homeland demand is a ploy only to extend the government aid indefinitely.
There are no easy solutions to the rehabilitation issue. The problem has been allowed to fester ever since the demand for a separate homeland surfaced in early 90’s. Since then, those who fled the valley to escape persecution have suffered immensely. On the brighter side, those who were kids then have now grown into our next generation of energetic young adults that any community would be proud of.
Abundant educational opportunities in professional institutions across the nation have bolstered our tribe with scores of professionals doctors, engineers, bankers and entrepreneurs of all imaginable hues. Annealed by the treachery of forced exodus and armed with good education and intellect, they have brought luster, not only to their well-deserving parents who brought them up in most trying of circumstances, but also to the entire community that could offer them only an environment of constant bickering and discord.
While our young adults are ready to face any challenge that’s thrown at them, there’s one challenge that stumps them making homeland their permanent home. All aboard the train of immense opportunities, our youth are going places. But their homeland is conspicuously absent from their itinerary.
For the most part, significance of the return and rehabilitation issue is limited to old timers. Even among them are many parents who are torn between the blessing of watching from close quarters their children shine and deciding to return to the valley for either retirement or a fresh start.
I'm not arguing that we relinquish our ownership rights to the valley of Kashmir. But, Kashmir belongs, also not only, to Kashmiri Pandits and that fact must never be allowed to extinguish from our collective memory. We must also acknowledge that the world is rapidly changing. Ethnic contours are getting blurred and cultural diversity is cross-pollinating morphing into new and unfamiliar traditions. However much that we may wish to remain captive to our five thousand year old legacy, the inevitability of change will eventually disregard our choices and chart its own course.
It’s not important whether or not we return to the land of our ancestors. What’s important is that we band together and with all our humanly might make certain that, to the extent possible, our homeland forever remains an inseparable part of our Motherland.
495 The writer has missed homeland demand with as demand of separate land for KPs only . That is not correct.Margdharshan clearly states the objective of a central administrate area in Kashmir where all people ,irrespective of their faith can live.We have many centrally administered ares in India then why should it not be accepted as a practical solution to address the problem. We have demand from Ladakh also for such arrangement. Our media should discuss this proposal .
Added By Piyaray Raina
Bottom Line:- Pandits need to live together to feel safe or we will become easy targets when a neighbouring muslim is having a bad day or a bad mood then if they get instructions from pakistan to harm us, it will be a disasterous. So, surely we cannot take chances on crocodile friendship or its tears. All kashmiri pandits need to be united on our Own home land demand.
Added By Raj Ambardar