If there is a consensus across all the national and regional political Parties in the Country that is for safe & secured return of seven hundred thousand exiled Kashmiri Pandit Community back in the Valley-Their Homeland. This is the right time to Reverse their exile and restore their rights of life, liberty and spiritual heritage in their homeland. They urge the PM Act with large heartedness and with pride to respect the national consensus. Modi Government needs to plan a time bound return action plan and demonstrate statesmanship as the late Prime Minister -Inder K. Gujral who said: “If the nation’s coffers have to be emptied for dignified return and rehabilitation of this illustrious community back in the Valley, still it would be a lesser price for their contribution towards modern Indian State.
It reflects badly on the current regime that Kashmir today is without Kashmir Pandits. Realities are, at times harsh and strange. Kashmiri Pandits, the aborigine of Kashmir, are out in exile, in this modern age of reason and enlightenment. The forced exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits in 1990, designed to effect the motivated ethnic cleansing, will go down in the history of these aborigines of Kashmir as a continuation of the persecution and genocide facing for hundreds of years and the atrocities were peaked during despotic rule of tyrant kings.
Acute fear and scare had been created which gripped the Kashmiri Pandits from September 1989 onwards after killings of prominent members of the community.
The local government abdicated its constitutional duties and left the citizenry at the mercy of the terrorists who killed scores of Muslims and Pandits. Gun wielding terrorists had a free play. Killing one and scaring a thousand was the strategy of terrorists for selective Pandits. In 1989-90 an orchestrated campaign was unleashed on the loudspeakers of mosques around -“O Kafiro Kashmir Chod Do”. Pandits started feeling what they had felt when hounded by Afgans in the second half of the 18th century— The killers roamed around unchallenged that created fear and dread in the city. The aborigines native exodus was engineered under a concerted plan scripted and executed by the local terrorists that created death, destruction and disorder a dominant around.
The terrorists maimed, killed, lynched and looted a large number of Kashmiri Pandits. The terror-stricken Pandits ran for life, leaving their homes and hearths behind them. They sought refuge in Jammu, Delhi and elsewhere in the country. The cleansing process was completed and now the Kashmir Valley has a very small number of Kashmiri Pandits
How will the present as well as future generations realize that Kashmir is the keystone of our heritage through millennia, finding mention even in our oldest scriptures?
Kashmiri Pandits have rich heritage and their roots are engraved in the soil of the Valley for more than five thousand years which can neither be destroyed nor obliterated by any power, more so by unleashing terror and vicious campaign. But the ground reality in today’s free India and new age of enlightenment is —Aborigines Kashmiri Pandit Community is in exile for last thirty two years (32yrs)
Kashmir was considered the abode of Saraswati, the highest seat of learning in India, and was also referred to as Sharda Peeth. So much so that students on graduating from Kashi would take four symbolic steps towards Kashmir, denoting their aspiration for higher learning. Almost the entire body of Sanskrit literature has its origins in Kashmir.
Rajatarangini, an authoritative historical tome on the royal lineage of Kashmir, written by Kalhana in the 12th century, outlines the greatness of King Lalitaditya, possibly the most powerful Indian emperor of all times, whose kingdom in the 8th century extended from the Caspian Sea in the north to the Kaveri basin in the south, and included Assam in the east. How many Indians have even heard his name? How many of us know that Srinagar was established by Ashoka the Great?
Mahayana Buddhism was spread across mid Asia, China and Japan by Kashmiri monks. Patanjali gifted his yog sutra to humanity. His Sarangadeva is considered the father of both Hindustani and Carnatic music. Acharya Abhinav Gupta, one of the greatest scholars of all times, wrote 46 literary classics, including the renowned Abhinav Bharti. His principles of ras are being taught in 80 universities around the world. But the irony is that they did not get any respite even in the bright days of the enlightened times, especially in the post-independent days of India.
Whatever be the vicissitudes of their history all pale into insignificance when we look at their present plight. The colossal crisis through which the exiled community or for that matter the entire Kashmiri society is passing through is in reality the crisis in the country’s great values — the perversion in practise of its constitutional jurisprudence, the socio-political and moral norms.
The native Kashmiris have entered in the 32nd year of exile. Pandits are longing for return to their roots. They say bidding farewell to the soil they have sprung from is too traumatic as experience to be conveyed in words. They always say — “we love our homeland and every inch of its bounteous soil has nourished us all”. The everyday resolve of these hapless Kashmiris is — strive, struggle and stop not till the exile is reversed and they return back to their homeland on their own terms.
The successive Central as well as state governments have done precious little for the return and rehabilitation of this community, which has contributed in a big way to the freedom struggle of India against the British imperialism, and also to the national reconstruction in the post-Independent era. It is a community whose history generates envy at their achievements as well as sorrow at their plight today. The long history of these exiled Kashmiris has been of triumphs and tragedies. The antiquity of the Kashmiri natives and its Aryan origin are well established. Human memory is short and so is, unfortunately, the memory of our leaders, especially of the current dispensation.
From 1989-90 till date the exiled Kashmiri Pandit groups across the globe are relentlessly striving as a mission for reversal of exile and restoration of their roots. There is no one at the political level prepared to stick their neck out and assure and commit any actionable time bound plan to restore the homeland, dignity and honour to Kashmiri Pandits.
After the inoperability of Article 370 and bifurcation of JK State into two Union Territories, hopes and expectations that the Current government would pay serious attention to the plight and future of Pandits were sadly belied. The government has not ever consulted the representatives of the exiled natives nor there any governmental return module/plan in public domain.
The exiled Pandits have been waiting for 32years, hoping that the day of their return with honour, dignity and security to their homeland will come. It has not so far, despite claims of the considerable improvement in the ground situation. In the meanwhile, the plight of Pandits has been slowly forgotten. Everybody sheds crocodile tears over their suffering, but there is nothing by way of action.
Rootlessness syndrome and despondency is fast gripping. The future of Pandits, as an important stakeholder and component of the Kashmir is less and less talked about. However the hope is never lost. History is replete, Pandit’s have always returned back to homeland after every hounding out exodus by tyrant rulers.
There are attempts by various social groups and civil society activists to ensure that the promises made by the nation, to restore the honour and dignity of Pandits, are not forgotten. These groupings are interacting vigorously with leaders of the government, the Opposition political parties and the international public opinion leaders to ensure that this dimension of the Kashmir scenario is not forgotten. The socio-religious leadership of majority community and the groupings those who have for some reason have chosen not to be part of the mainstream are helpful factors towards the return of natives back home.
The return of Pandits to their homeland is achievable, there is a national consensus and the people of Kashmir are in unison craving /asking for return of natives. The Government of India and the LG administration have to plan out a common and comprehensive return module and enforce the same in time-bound framework. New Delhi has a constitutional and political responsibility to demonstrate a strong political will. It has to create infrastructures, housing colonies, etc, provide adequate jobs to the educated youth and secure all the religious places, cultural centres and endowments. The greater obligation on the Central and LG governments is to create a conducive economic and socio-political environment for reversing their exile and facilitate their safe and dignified return to their roots and homeland.
If not now then when is what KPs are asking on their exile entering today the 32nd year.
(The Author is Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)