Yes! United we must stand....time to come together�

Yes! United we must stand, ...…
time to come together…

*Lalit Ambardar

Advisor to J&K Governor S S Bleoria (L) shakes hands with Convenor of Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangarsh Samiti Leela Karan Sharma during a press conference on signing of the pact between the J&K government panel and the Samiti to resolve theAmarnath land row, in Jammu . Photo by RAMAN RAINA
he reconciliatory accord over the Amarnath land transfer between Shri Amarnath Sangarsh Samiti (SASS) & the Govt. has brought the much deserved peace back to the Jammu province. Jammu rose against the rabid intolerance exhibited by the Kashmiri pan Islamists when they opposed the transfer of a mere 100 acres of land for the development of facilities along the arduous Amarnath pilgrimage route. Nationalist forces all over the country felt betrayed by the vehement opposition to the land transfer by both the so called main stream as well as the known separatist politicians.

It was but natural for us- the Kashmir Pandits to come forward & voice our unconditional support to SASS. It was our battle & the people of Jammu took the initiative. The whole agitation in the valley was aimed at depriving us of our legitimate right to exercise our authority on our own land for religious purposes or otherwise. We believe, it was part of the continued process of ethnic cleansing in Kashmir.

In no time, we saw ourselves as a community rise to the occasion & mobilise ourselves to participate in an unprecedented movement that could very well be described as the first ever ‘mass response’ of the nationalistic forces in the state against the anti nationals. We organised protest marches, demonstrations, road shows, prayer meetings across the length & breadth of India & abroad, even in cities & towns where our presence was very minimal in terms of numbers. Jammu was the scene of real action followed by Delhi that saw mobilisation of public opinion in support of SASS. In Jammu, the Pandits were out in streets arm in arm with their Jammu comrades, while Pandits in Delhi pitched in to generate awareness about the issue. It is a matter of great satisfaction that SASS leaders & activists have expressed their appreciation of our modest contribution to the cause. The compliment from the leadership of the uprising that 'the Kashmiri Pandits’ gave an ‘ideological direction’ to the ‘movement’ will always remain a source of inspiration for us all.

And what we rediscovered during this struggle is remarkable & that is 'our ability’ to respond spontaneously to the cause of ‘Kashmir’ & the ‘nation' in one voice. It was after almost 18 years that the Kashmiri Pandits irrespective of their group affiliations came together voluntarily to exhibit solidarity & to stand by the Jammu nationalists. It was heart warming to see the two factions of Panun Kashmir addressing a ‘joint press conference’ in Jammu prompting the Kashmiri pan Islamists raise anti Panun Kashmir slogans in Srinagar. Activists of the initiative Roots in Kashmir approached almost all the Kashmiri Pandit community groups in Delhi & NCR to mobilise support for the movement. And the response was tremendous. Every body came forward. Amarnath Action Group a conglomerate of all the political & social groups of Kashmiri Pandits in the capital & the NCR in support of the SASS could only come in to existence because of the shear will of the community members across the board , who merited 'the cause' above every thing else. The numbers may not have been so impressive always but almost every group was represented in all the events that were organised in Delhi. It was after a very long period of time that 'Kashmir Bhawan' at Lajpat Nagar (Delhi) once again became a hub of renewed zeal & hectic activity that was aimed at supplementing the efforts of our own community members in Jammu who in turn had already extended their total allegiance to the Jammu nationalists & were in the forefront of the agitation.

The unwarranted drama enacted by the Islamists in the streets in Kashmir brought alive the gory memories of nineties & it became inevitable that no debate on the 'Amarnath land transfer' in the media concluded with out questions being raised over the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the Pandits in the valley 19 years ago. The discourse is now open. A section of the media that is solely responsible for facilitating political legitimisation of those who should have been charged for crimes against humanity has now also begun to raise questions. Forced ‘exodus of Pandits’ is being now described with out hesitation as the 'most brutal’ form of human rights violation. This is no less an achievement & it came definitely as a result of the combined efforts of the community.

Encouraged by the turn of events, the community at present feels rejuvenated once again. Hence, that deep craving for the 'mother Kashir' is becoming increasingly visible. “What next”, is what every one is anxious to know about. “Why shouldn't we continue our struggle together for our homeland” & “all of us want our land back, why can't we forge a united front for the purpose” is the common refrain. The vigour & enthusiasm of post exodus- early nineties is apparent. Not that the urge to go back to the roots ever subsided, it was the utter callousness of the civil society in general that tended to demoralise some of us. But having experienced the response to the collective efforts, the community is once again up & demanding justice. At this juncture, it is but natural for the community to expect more from the leadership & it becomes an obligation on the part of the leadership to come up to the heightened expectations of its people.

We as a community can actually boast of highly talented & dedicated leaders who have at the cost of their own personal & professional lives gone out of way to espouse our cause. There is indeed so much of energy out there which if targeted collectively can be formidable. Even now, quite a bit is being done by all the groups in their own manner but a lot more could be achieved collectively.

Now, is the right time to come together again & formulate a solid political agenda of our own? We need to gear up ourselves in the wake of the speculations that some ‘thing’ is being ‘cooked up’ in desperation to satiate the Kashmiri Islamists. Even formal trifurcation with ‘softened’ border with POK can not be ruled out. What ever be the case, we can not afford to be taken by surprise. We should be prepared to counter any attempts to dilute further the Indian authority in Kashmir.

Therefore, it becomes incumbent on the community leadership to come forward & respond collectively to the anxiety being expressed. At this juncture the leadership must not disappoint those who are ‘forced’ but certainly not ‘destined’ to live perpetually, as ‘refugees’ in their own country. In absence of any dispute regarding the reputation or the skills of the prominent community representatives the task become much easier. Let them on their own take an initiative & begin the dialogue.

In order to accord impetus to the overwhelming effort, it is imperative to demolish completely the misplaced myth of 'divided we stand, united we fall'. Let us all pool in our efforts in whatever capacity & form, from where ever we are, for the cause .If need be, we should not hesitate to even beg & seek unity of thought & action. We owe it to our great ancestors who managed to keep our race alive in Kashmir even during those adverse conditions.

Come together!

*Lalit Ambardar: A Building Design Consultant, presently based in Delhi. Has been a ‘programme coordinator’ for foreign TV & Radio bureaus. Regularly writes on 'Kashmir' in response columns of national dailies. Interests include acting & modelling.
Has acted in various tele- films, short films & TV serials for DD, Sony & Zee channels. Has done scores of ad films & print ads.

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