We need to dig deep into the basics of the Gordian knot – the Kashmiri Pandits problem – if we are thinking of establishing a policy outline to undo the logjam.
It is a complicated phenomenon. Therefore, I shall welcome constructive criticism.
Kashmiri Pandits (KPs), who decided not to leave the valley in the aftermath of the 1990 genocide and ethnic cleansing, often think whether they had taken the right decision. We believe either they were ignorant of the implications of a resurgent Islamic conservatism in the Asiatic region and its impact on the sub-continent or they were recklessly glued to their material possessions at the cost of their lives, dignity and liberty. Their wrong decision caused them and the exiled community many miseries.
The KPs who were lured to the valley as a result of the so-called KP Rehabilitation Package of the Congress PM in 2008, also heedlessly compromised their safety and identity. No self-respecting individual would accept a government job with humiliating conditions attached to it.
Why did they accept to serve as underdogs in the valley under hostile administration and environs instead of struggling for dignified means of subsistence elsewhere in the vast country?
Human beings develop a slave-like mindset when they are forced to live as third-rate nondescript persons (dhimmis) for nearly a millennium.
The KPs are the classical example of a hapless community fighting for so many centuries for bare survival. Long political suppression, social segregation and economic deprivation forced them to reconcile to the punishment stipulated by the Islamists for kafirs and idol worshippers (butparast). Decimation is the penalty according to the Islamic injunctions.
The post-freedom period of Kashmir history has undoubtedly been a period of the revival of Islamic domination, exclusiveness and Hindu persecution in a new form called populism. It claimed legitimization through a majority vote. But what type of majority has to be is nowhere defined.
The Hindu dominated Indian Constitution Assembly, honestly carrying the thousand-year-old baggage of slavery and servitude, succumbed to the rant and bluster of a Kashmirian villain in 1949. In a state of utter diffidence and timidity, it conceded constitutional indulgence to J&K without realising what a heinous crime it was committing against the Indian nation.
Winston Churchill was very right when he said that “they (Indian leaders) are men of straw; they will kill a man for a bottle of water.” These “men of straw” deposed a benign ruler, snatched the kingdom his grandfather had raised after making tremendous sacrifices and hand it over to a wily fanatic nursing ambition to be known as the founder of Sheikhdom of J&K. This tightened the Islamic stranglehold.
A big fallacy very dearly held by the KPs to the hearts is that being Hindus the Hindu nation of India and its leadership would empathise with them. What a fatal misconception? They have never understood nor will they ever understand that Islam is a mission and Hinduism is submission. The mission is that only their faith and its civilization have the divine right of dominating the entire globe and all other faiths have to be washed away. Islamic Kashmir has nothing to do with pre-Islamic Kashmir because to them that is a myth and the present is a reality. The slogans of Hindutva and the like are opium to the unsuspecting masses. Keep them inebriated and pursue your mission of sticking to expansionism like a leech, is the crux of their thought process.
Imagine how deep the trait of slavery has gone into the veins of the KPs that the mourners of Rahul Bhat’s killing approached the Gupkar Alliance for security. What an irony? They ask for security from those very elements that have consigned Kashmir to death and destruction.
And look at the guarded response of the Gupkar Alliance, a masterpiece of political manoeuvring. They assured them that they would place their grievance before the Lt. Governor and they did. The Gupkar team did not tell them that it would appeal to the militants to lay down their arms and relieve Kashmir of bloodshed. No, they did not make any such commitment. Nor had the beleaguered KP delegation the guts to ask them why they, the Gupkaris, should carry their grievance to the Lt. Gov when they are the source of all that Kashmir has been going through for the last 72 years?
The spokesman of the Gupkar Alliance now finds it safe to woo the KPs and visits their camps carrying an olive branch to the frustrated and disarrayed community.
And see the subtle nexus between Srinagar and New Delhi. Did the Lt. Gov ask the Gupkaris the purpose why they wanted to see him? No, he had not the guts because the Gupkaris just walked in. Any Lt. Gov worth his salt would refuse to meet the Gupkaris the way the latter wanted. He would have sent them a message that they should first issue an appeal and a warning to the militants to lay down their arms and not damage communal harmony in the State. Alas, the official representative of the President of India in Srinagar could not shun his spinelessness.
Should the KPs believe that they are safe in palsied hands?
The KPs must understand that Kashmir Muslim leaders agreed to accede to India on the unwritten condition that the Indian State would make the minuscule community of KPs expendable. It means that in the vanquishing of the KP community, the Srinagar-Delhi axis was in complete unison. It fitted in the scheme of Sultans and the Czars.
The KPs are naive and immature to have expected the Indian State either to have come to their rescue at the critical moment of their ethnic cleansing in 1990 or to sincerely look for a viable module of their return and restitution.
Did not the Indian Home Ministry throw into a dustbin a module which the Padgaonkar interlocutor committee had recommended as the only viable solution for KP restitution?
The return and restitution measures in the valley are fundamentally against the expansionist ambitions of the Czars of Delhi. They will love to see the KPs vanish in due course of time leaving no trace behind. Even the ostensible solidarity among the KP Diaspora is gall to them.
Now in the given Westminster type of democracy which the Indian leadership has borrowed from Great Britain, the Hindu minuscule minority of Kashmir has been decimated. J&K has its constitution which does not recognise any group as a minority based on faith. As against this, Indian Constitution recognizes four or five religious communities as minorities. The KPs have never been considered part of the state’s political structure and are intentionally denied the opportunity of contributing to the national development programme. Because of the next to nil importance of the KPs as any political party’s vote bank, no political party or its leadership is prepared to own them. They are aware that in the great flow of history the KP will get submerged in the vast Indian milieu.
A serious discrepancy with which the Pandit IDPs are confronted is a vacuum in its leadership. Honestly speaking, the KPs are sincere workers and activists but they lack sincere and upright and politically highly sensitive leadership to guide them. There are about 22 parties and groups, many of them known to the community members and some still unknown. All of them are hypocritical. They know the truth that I have spoken here but as hypocrites, they will still cry for “maej kashir” or Mother Kashmir. This community will find the light the day it takes off Kashmir from its mind. Failing that, they should remember that Rahul Bhat is not the last to fall.
(The writer is a former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University, India.
Disclaimer: Views expressed above are author’s own.)