Tragedy of being a Kashmiri Pandit!


Youth Sections
"The Braves Arise "
his write-up is not just any other article. It’s a subject that’s very close to my heart. It’s about the journey of a child who saw 2-3 generations trapped in ill-fated militancy, and witnessed all the misery it got along. Even if I was a kid, I felt the blow so hard that it’s still fresh in my memory. I can still hear those dreadful words from the mosque, I am still aware of the trauma we were in. I still remember those fearful nights….those dreaded moments that anyone will just walk in our house and kill us. I used to be hell scared if my mother went out to buy something and hoped that she will come back alright. I can’t tell you how it feels to be a victim for something you didn’t even do….

No matter how much we Kashmiri’s are proud of our heritage, we were hurt and betrayed by our own people. Our own land is no more the same, we were thrown out saying that we don’t belong here. I don’t know if any of my non-kashmiri friends will ever understand what it is to be a ‘cursed Hindu’. What is it to be a child whose childhood didn’t see innocence but responsibilities? What it is to see your family torn? The bitter feeling of losing everything! From a luxurious life to life in a box; yes we stayed in a box, what else will you call when a whole family stays, cooks and sleeps in one room? Migration from a big house to a box was just phenomenal, but I guess we were so traumatized that it didn’t matter what we had and what we didn’t as long as we were alive.

I belong to that generation of unlucky kids who witnessed the upsurge of militancy. It is sad, very sad to be one of them. I feel sorry not only for myself but my grandmother, who had to leave her proud legacy and was forced to stay in the box. I am sorry for my parents who had to stay away from each other for as long as 15 years…. just because they had a family to support. I feel sorry for a wife, a mother and a daughter who had to do everything all by herself for her family. I have not known anyone as strong as my mother. I was strongly influenced by her; she planted roots of a strong personality with an optimistic mental outlook in me. My mother stood like a pillar of strength for our family and never let us feel as to how disturbed and traumatized she felt. My mom being an intelligent lady was never conservative and always had progressive ideas. She used to encourage us to learn to stand on our own feet and pursue our professions with oozing self-confidence. Her main ambition was the prosperity of her children.

I feel sorry for my father, who was kind of trapped in his job. As a son, husband and a father, he had his responsibilities. My dad, a disciplined, dedicated and an honest man, who approaches issues with an alert mind and goes about his job in a methodical manner but he was not given a fair chance to get transferred to Jammu so that he could be with his family. All useless government and so called human rights agencies just pretended to help the Pandits….but I know what they did. Ask any Kashmiri Pandit and they will tell you what all have they suffered.

I feel sorry for the son and the daughter, who could never have a full fledged family. No mentor around during their career building years. Even if my dad is a living encyclopedia, with all the information in the world…. be it religion, science, occult sciences, agriculture, anything and everything…. A very well-learned man but at the same time, he is an expert in finding fault with others and castrating them for their shortcomings. I wish, I and my little brother had a good guidance and support of our father when we were growing up. May be I would have been much more than what I am now. It’s not that I am not happy with what I am but I wish I had a chance to do it even better. It’s not that I am not proud of what all I have accomplished in all these years, but I don’t think it’s my success… This success and its credit belong to my parents without whom I would never have been able to come so far. I owe so much to them and all the pain and sacrifices they made for both of us. I am so blessed to be their daughter, even if I had ups and downs in my life…. They never gave up on me. Their faith in me and their whole-hearted blessings have taken me all the way up.

The worst thing is to be a refugee in your own country. When not only other cities, states and communities treat you like a bunch of losers but they also make fun by saying “hey, I can’t believe you fled from your homeland, how can you? How can anyone? You are too weak to let go of your house and age old legacy”. Can someone go and tell them, it’s easy to say but god forbid. I hope no one ever on this planet has to go through anything like this. I can’t tell you how hurt my whole community is….. Where should we go and seek answers when even our own gods have turned their backs on us. Life was difficult and impossible. People just talk and talk; they never did anything for the benefit of a ‘migrated Hindu’ – even if we are in majority here. There were very few people who came up to help.

I don’t know if anyone reading this blog will ever be able to relate to the trauma faced by us. I don’t think anyone can believe or imagine how difficult it was for all the Kashmiri Pandits. We started from scratch… actually from a twig. Even if we had everything a night before, the next day we were beggars, just beggars who had nothing but just a hope that we will come back soon. Newspapers covered with blood everywhere – ‘5 people killed’- ’10 people killed’ – ’20 people killed’. Who kept the count? We all were busy thanking for each day we were alive (oh sorry) survived. With my father in Srinagar and we surviving in Jammu, I have not seen a single day, when my mother and grandmother were not worried about my father’s safety and safe arrival. Prayers were all we had.

I don’t blame anyone. I don’t know why it happened? I don’t know what went wrong, that our own people turned against us. I don’t have an answer, but I have so many questions that I want to ask. These questions never leave me; they are always there in my head. And I keep wondering, what was it that I did wrong? What was my fault?

I salute the whole brigade of Kashmiri Pandits for their fighting spirit. They have fought against all odds. I don’t think there can be any other community that could have survived this tragedy. Even a mighty country like the US couldn’t survive 9/11….. and a handful of Kashmiri Pandits survived and rose above all odds. It wasn’t a miracle nor did happen in one night…………they worked hard and never gave up. I guess our rich culture; our values, ethics, morals and above all our education came to our rescue. I salute all the parents who stood up to make their children’s life peaceful.

*Devika Wattal

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Dear Devika The article you wrote is real good one,inspiring. You say any other community could not have endured that much as Kashmiri Pandits. Please read about the tragedies faced by Jews in Europe. Yogi
Added By yoginder tickoo
I feel sad and sorrow of being the Kashmiri youth of the time who grow all along the difficult years of migration. This story touches my heart and makes me feel what we have suffered during the years. This makes me feel about our sisters and mothers that how they managed with us in single rooms. This story makes me feel proud about my parents who forget everything for making our lives secure.
Added By Rajinder Bhat
Dear Devika, I wish you all the best for your future. You come across as a very bright and intelligent girl and am sure you will do your mom and dad proud and be an example to your little brother. All the best.
Added By Geetanjali Dhar
Excellent reminder after 23 years of living in exile, Let us not try to forget the exodus and loss of our motherland.
Added By R K Mattoo
Dear Editor & Devika , A brilliant narration & living memoir that wont die with us but would be apssed as legacy to next generation so that they never fail to recognize the enemies of HUMANITY & make sure all risk mitigations are in place so that 1990 never revisits us. Very passionate & straight from heart Article.
Added By Veer Wangoo
Devika. Great write up. More power to your pen.
Added By Mohan KAUL
Your write up touched my heart. I truly believe that our community has gone through PTSD( post traumatic distress syndrome). Unfortunately we are our own worst critics. As a community also we only look at each others shortcomings and ignore the positive contributions of our community members. Your generation could change that frame of mind . More power to you and your pen Asha Bakaya
Added By Asha Bakaya
Dear Devika.. In a short article you have so clearly conveyed the pain and suffering of our community, while being hounded out of the Valley.Numerous children faced the same trauma that you faced while growing up in extremely difficult conditions. That your generation survived and overcame the handicap only goes to prove that one day we will prevail. I hope you and your generation can lead the community in future. I wish you good luck and best wishes. Tej
Added By Tej Tikoo
Thank you everyone for your support and encouragement. It's been a pleasure and I am really overwhelmed by all your responses. Do read my new article in the August issue, i hope you all like it. Keep reading!!!
Added By Devika Wattal
Dear Devika,Nice to see you on net because of this article after a long time of about 12 years. Being your classmate and a Maharashtian Pandit I really proude that someone who is known to me trying to share feelings of Kashmir pandits. My family and my in laws family are strong supporters of all pandit community. When I was working in nearby area of J&K I seen the sorrows of Kashmir pandits. My good wishes for your work and your future.
Added By Dnyanesh Joshi