‘Panun Kashmir’ not a distant dream…. onus on activism…


Shehjar Newsmagazine Shehjar e-magazine

‘Panun Kashmir’ not a distant dream…….
onus on activism……

Lalit Ambardar

midst the communal inferno that had then engulfed the subcontinent following the ‘two nation’ theory based vivisection of India, formal accession of the state of Jammu & Kashmir with the union of India (joining Pakistan being the other option) came as a relief giving rise to new hopes & expectations.Kashmiri Pandits also made a choice then. Leaving behind the treacherous past that saw the community almost at the brink of extinction due to centuries of religious persecution.

A renewed enthusiasm in rebuilding their lives in secular India was apparent. Pandits responded with vigour to Sheikh Abdullah’s call of ‘hamlawar khabardar, hum Kashmiri hain tayyar’( beware ,oh the invader , we Kashmiris are prepared).This was the time when social thinkers like Kashyap Bandhu went around distributing saris to Pandit women reassuring them of the advent of a new era. Inter communal harmony between the Hindus & the Muslims, that had suffered due to historical reasons was seen to be taking shape.

But what followed in the coming years was total political intrigue and Kashmiri Pandits found themselves outside of the political realm. Occasional symbolic representation not withstanding, vested interest driven political machinations polarised the polity to the extent that political redundancy of the Pandits was ensured for the times to come. Yet there was not even a complaint. It was this intended political isolation that continued over the decades & finally culminated in the systematic ethnic cleansing in the valley in 1989-90.

Only post displacement when rendered ‘refugees in their own country’, the Pandits, disappointed & disillusioned with the callousness of the so called secular political class in general , realised the necessity of engaging with the politics. Scores of groups emerged- some in the form of social, some cultural while many out rightly declared their political intentions & this contributed immensely in the initial rehabilitation process. Most groups active today continue to pursue with zeal the community’s aspiration to return back to Kashmir with dignity & honour.

But what caught the imagination of the exiled community then was the idea of Panun Kashmir- a demand that envisaged a separate homeland with a union territory status in Kashmir valley itself. Following years saw the movement for Panun Kashmir gaining momentum leading to the widespread dissemination of the facts in India & abroad about the separatists’ designs & the plight of Kashmiri Pandits who had suffered at the hands of the pan Islamists back home in Kashmir. Panun Kashmir activism facilitated resurrection of the craving for ‘home’ even amongst those who disillusioned with what the community had undergone had vowed not to ever return.

Sadly, like any other political movement that endeavours something novel invariably comes across challenges both political & otherwise, Panun Kashmir too had its own share of ups & downs. Paradoxically, the irritants that affected the movement are rooted more within than outside.

Constant monitoring of the course of events & subsequent strategy review periodically are the imperatives for any political movement to survive & succeed. So are the unflinching dedication to the cause & sincere camaraderie of the activists. Persistent personality clashes, show of one upmanship & uncompromising antagonism over claims of superiority of political thought form the right recipe for political hara-kiri. The very fact that twenty years down the history for the Kashmiri Pandits as for as their political agenda is concerned nothing seems to have moved, suggests something terribly amiss at the ground level. Kashmiri Pandits have a just ‘cause’. It is just that the approach wavered halfway leading to restlessness in the community. Yet there was only resentment & not disenchantment.

There is now a realisation. Aware of the growing community pressure & its responsibility to come up to the community’s expectations, the leadership got engaged in a serious discussion to overcome the differences. Two factions of Panun Kashmir have already come together under one banner. It will not be farfetched to assume that understanding with the third faction will also be arrived at soon for personalities however great, are never above the cause.

Complete unification of Panun Kashmir needs to be followed by immediate steps to arrive at an understanding with all other groups in the community, that could pave way for consensus over ‘homeland’ as the political agenda.
*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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