Kashmiri Hindus seek separate homeland in Kashmir Valley

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Kashmiri Hindus seek separate homeland in Kashmir Valley
Washington, DC (USA) February 4, 2011

Deepak Ganju
n a teleconference wherein nearly 436 Kashmiri Hindus representing USA, Canada, UK, Australia, France, New Zealand, India, Germany and Austria were connected and bonded for 90 minutes with Dilip Padgaonkar, one of the three interlocutors appointed by the Government of India on Jammu and Kashmir, the Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora made a strong presentation on all the aspects of Kashmiri Hindu struggle in exile.

Besides touching various facets on the plight of Kashmiri Hindu refugees, the main focus of the program was introduction to why Homeland? The demand for homeland was introduced and connected with the past history of Kashmiri Pandits. It was stressed and argued by many speakers that this was the only option to protect this unique and distinct community from becoming extinct.

Forced to live in exile for more than two decades, the global Kashmiri Hindu Diaspora demanded carving out a homeland for in Kashmir valley with Union Territory status.

Mr. Jeevan Zutshi, from California while welcoming Mr. Dileep Padgaonkar described that this conference would project the main concern of the Kashmiri Hindu community about an imminent threat to their extinction.

Mr. Dileep Padgaonkar in his opening statement said that he has continuously drawn attention to the plight of Kashmiri Pandits for a long time. "The key to bringing a durable peace in Jammu & Kashmir is the fate of KP community and their ability to lead a life of peace, of harmony. of dignity of honor of safety in their own homeland."

Mr. Bansi Tikku from California, while speaking on historical perspective of Kashmir said that one cannot erase history, however it is necessary that one learns lessons from history. "It is indeed a shame that India cannot take care of a regional Hindu minority and undo their forced exodus. If the superpower India cannot ensure KP's life and safety everywhere in the valley, let her make it possible at least in some part of the valley, our motherland-our homeland."

Mr. Deepak Ganju from Florida questioned as to why should Kashmiri Hindus be forced to be subservient to the wishes of the majority community who were responsible for their forced exodus in the first place? "Notions of justice require that the Kashmiri Pandits be given back their homes and surroundings. And this can only happen if a separate territory is earmarked for them out of the valley which could be governed by self-government. Panun Kashmir must be a vital part of any steps recommended by the interlocutors. Let the words translate into action."

Dr. Jagan N Kaul
from Oregon described as to how the Muslim animosity, hatred, discrimination, economic squeeze, communal violence and calculated administrative indifference and neglect led to ethnic cleansing, genocide and finally exile. "The act of creating a Union Territory for them will simultaneously fulfill the two important national goals of India such as a) saving these communities with unique cultures and rich past; and, b) enhancing the national security of the country by empowering India's loyal citizens in a strategic region. We ask you Dr. Padgaonkar, to ask the Prime Minister to do it as it is the right thing to do."

Mr. Rakesh Kaul from New Jersey, spoke about how KP international Diaspora can help in finding solution in Jammu and Kashmir? Mr Kaul suggested creation of Global Jammu and Kashmir Chamber of Commerce, Education and Health Services, Jammu and Kashmiri offshore coordinator office and Global Kashmiri Aesthetic council.

Miss. Rashmi Koul a child speaker spoke about the effects of exodus on children and what it means being away from homeland.

Ms Meenakshi Raina from Paris asked Mr. Padgaonkar as to what dispensation does he envisage for the effective return of the displaced Kashmiri Pundit Diaspora to their ancestral homeland under three dominant political streams flowing in Kashmir. One seeking Kashmir's merger with Pakistan, second one aspiring for Independent Kashmir and the third one articulated by mainstream political party's call for greater autonomy with a very limited role for India in its affairs?

In yet another question from Mr. Veer Khar from New Zealand- "It has been historically established that Kashmiri Pandits have been subjected to a forcible and inhuman exodus once every hundred years during last seven centuries. The community has always gone back to its roots and wants to do so again. The question is: "Have the Hon'ble Interlocutors thought of a dispensation for the displaced community that will provide them the constitutional guarantees for their safety and prevent further displacements?"

Mrs. Krishna Bhan from UK said that "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."

Mrs. Koshni Kampassi from UK said that "National Human Rights Commission of India is on record having stated the circumstances that forced out the entire minority of Kashmiri Pandits from their homeland are akin to genocide. This can be a seen as a serious indictment of the executive responsibility of that time. This has also contributed to the neglect and apathy shown towards the displaced community for last twenty years. The question, therefore, is, 'Will the Hon'ble Interlocutors take a note of this serious miscarriage of justice and include redresser measures in their recommendations to Government of India?"

Mrs. Swapna Raina from Maryland talked about,how it feels to loose your own by terrorists. She narrated the trauma and pain caused from the migration and murder of her grandfather Shri Neel Kanth Ganjoo, Former Sessions Judge by terrorists in broad day light on Nov 4th, 1989. She narrated a touching poem on Kashmir written by her daughter Shivani when she was 10 years old.

Mr. Lalit Koul from Massachusetts demanded that the Kashmiri Pandit community be declared as Internally Displaced People (IDP), delink PM's employment package from their return and rehabilitation in the Valley and hand over the management of Kashmiri Hindu religious shrines and cultural centers to Kashmiri Hindus.

Mr. Surinder Kaul
from Texas reiterated "The Global Kashmiri Pundit Diaspora has converged to convey that since the Muslim majority of Kashmir has rejected religious coexistence, in all these 20 years of our forced exile, we are compelled to endorse carving of homeland in the north east of river Jhelum with Union Territory status and with free flow of Indian constitution as the only option to protect this unique and distinct community from becoming extinct,"

Mr. Padgoankar after giving patient hearing to the speakers agreed that Kashmiri Hindus need to be granted a representative political stake in the governance of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. He also asserted that return of the Kashmiri Pandits to their native homes in Kashmir with honor and dignity is one of the top priorities of the interlocutors.
Audio recording of KP Diaspora Conference call


Participant Presentations
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Thank you for a wonderful job done in printing the writeup. I must say it is a high class professional job. Your decision to carry all the comments made by the participants in the teleconference in a special edition of the Shehjar was very pragmatic. It will be useful to the members of the community as also others to maintain it as reference resource.
Added By Dr. Jagan Kaul