Return of Kashmiri Pundits to valley

The Kashmiri Hindus, popularly known as Pundits who were forced out of their Homes in the midnight of early 1990.when Islamic insurgency broke out in Kashmir Valley. This state is the only state of India where Muslims are in Majority. Attempts of conversions by offering inducements like money, jobs and other luxurious facilities were rejected and opposed strongly by Pundits This despite the holocaust and annihilation of so many Hindu families.

After witnessing this sudden Turmoil and Killings in the Bowl Valley of Kashmir, the minority community left the horror behind them along with other co- families and migrated to other part of the country across the Tunnel. With nothing more than few clothes on their backs and hope in their hearts they were forced to migrate for safety of their lives, boarded the trucks, buses as to reach to a safe & peaceful place across the Banihal Tunnel. Leaving behind the ghostly, crumbled houses torched by rebels, however this dream quickly turned into a nightmare of shadow for survival. Everybody penniless and dependent upon the good will of State or Central Government. If any other relative already settled earlier, but they never show up. Everybody’s fate seemed to be sealed, frustration and dark future looming from all sides. Some opportunists always take advantage of such situations, regularly prey upon helpless immigrants, and submit them to darker professions, promising Jobs and money against immoral acts. To our good luck every person’s dignity & worth was safely protected even amid of terrible hardships and difficult times.

Since pundits were an educated lot, most of them moved across different parts of India & a few abroad securing Job for their lively hood. However, time passed on and due to our Educational values and constant struggle we managed to survive somehow or other. Still some percentages live in miserable conditions in the refugee camps and Jagti clusters (a remote village) in Jammu belt with no proper facilities to live. Authorities do not digest the Truth and always work hard to keep the most grisly and gory things of the situation out of media and cameras views.

As on date at present about 61K families of Kashmiri Hindus are registered as migrants in the country out of which approx., 40K in Jammu, 20K in Delhi and rest in other states of India.

Aftermath the Proposal for our return to the valley was initiated by the State Government and cabinet approved the road map without seeking any consent from the displaced community. The effected persons have alleged that the proposal has been in tune with the separatists, they have not been consulted at all. Almost all their houses have been raised to ground either looted or gutted in fire, and few encroached by goons. Mostly in cities, Pundits have sold on throwaway prices.

Government of India announced different Packages for the return & rehabilitation of displaced persons since 2004. Till date this is still in the pipeline. Why displaced people are not returning so far? Is the Policy that mooted by the Government not full proof? Does it require motivation & assurance with safety and security of their lives? However, there are many bottlenecks and Shortcomings; Government has not shown the necessary interest in the real sense for the return of effected people so far. Politics being played with the sentiments of displaced persons as some organizational leaders of Kashmiri migrants claim so.

Now It is reported that there are central plans to build entire separate township within Kashmir Valley to resettle the displaced persons and some organizations like ”Pannun Kashmir“ has been in favour of this plan. Nevertheless, this is being opposed by some local Muslim organization like Grand Mufti Bashir-ud- Din Maulvi & other like-minded groups of separatists. Even they declared threat to the lives of those inmates who will try to ask or live in the separate Homeland; on the other hand speaking Kashmir is incomplete without Pundits, what a double standard of gimmicks?

Some displaced community members feel that they are being dragged unceremoniously & dropped into a deep ocean which amounts to a suicidal mission. So far, not a Single Kashmiri Muslim leader from the majority community have come forward and welcomed the decision for Rehabilitation of displaced pundit’s, otherwise they would have welcomed the move and shouted on every Channel or Newspaper, “We want Kashmiri Pundits back in valley”. This is simply a Double standard of their fake secularism!

Some are of the opinion that with each battle of our return to valley, we become able to engage the adversaries with an increasing Skill, alongside a special effort to take the fight to the struggle. Each repeated encounter gets us one-step closer to the victory, like that of our past seven times migration from Valley since Pathan Rule though only Seven Pundit families survived.

So, why are Pundits not returning? There are many reasons. Many are too scared, as the Majority, communities have not shown the required response for their return and government too has not shown the necessary steps for their security of lives, and lively hood. If government is serious about the return of displaced persons, it should be Ethnic.

There are many Pundit groups that espouse various ideas; some want a homeland with Union territory status within the Valley and look for returning home would mean a Satellite township, political empowerment and minority Status. However, some want to resettle at their original place of their residences. “Also, the new generation, born and brought up outside, doesn’t connect with the past culture. Their studied outside and want to settle as where they are due to solid reasons, like Job, business etc. Some organizations feel it would leave it to the migrants to decide how and where they wanted to live in Kashmir, and determined in accordance with the Will of the effected People. In accordance with Article 5 of Indian constitution having, all domicile privileges in Kashmir and citizen of India.

Recently it was in the News that Prime Minister announced a Reconstruction Plan for the displaced persons of Kashmir Valley, which includes the project aimed for the Economic infrastructure, provision of basic services, imparting a thrust to Employment, income Generation and Provision of relief for rehabilitation of dislocated families of the victims of militancy. However, the main problem is how to implement this. The big question is whether the effected persons are being taken into confidence or not?

Our community mostly suffers due to difference of opinion and lack of proper Leadership even in this unfortunate tragedy period of Migration or resettlement. Regarding the return to Valley, any decision should be arrived at after consulting all other organizations within our community and the effected persons. This is the need of the hour, the united will of all KP organization and displaced persons should solidly be behind the act of return, whatever the joint decision is arrived at. We need a wise leadership to lead, the great and wise leader is Like a Train Engine, who has a clear destination in his mind, and he makes sure that all the Passengers reach their destination. The passengers belong to so many categories, like Low/High performing,  Active/in active, Rich/poor etc. what so ever, he takes all of them along with him towards the target destination and steadily reaches there. He keeps the engine up and down to ensure that Target is achieved, like wise should be our Edge for Tomorrow.

However, it need to be ensured that in absence of Proper Leadership & open forum discussions on a common platform will result the Return to Valley for displaced Pundits a distant dream ,just as Kashmiri Muslims realized that freedom (Azadi) or plebiscite was a dreamlike which never came true. The return needs to be in a peaceful way with co-existence of both the communities. Keeping the ground realities of the situation in mind and holding the Cause of peace & safety of lives together with their lively hood into considerations that is much more important.
Bushan Bhat Hali, Chairman Devasthan Pranandakh Samiti, Hall, Pulwama (Kashmir)
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