I am a Kashmiri Hindu/Pandit born in the 80s. All the violence in Kashmir in the last 35 years is a stigma on humanity and all the pain and hurt it caused, is yet to heal. My community and family were the worst victims—we all struggled for our survival after our exodus from Kashmir in 1990. Life in exile was all about poverty and hardships. Losing our home and our way of life scarred us emotionally and psychologically.
But at the same time, I understand why my community and family chose to flee rather than fight back in Kashmir in 1990. A small minuscule minority in Kashmir with no support from the government at the time chose to protect their children and live for another day. Kashmiri Hindus in 1989-90 were completely helpless, with no one coming to their rescue in Kashmir. Our community had historically invested mostly in education. Most of our people did clerical jobs and never thought of sending children to the Army or police. We were unarmed and there was no way we could have won the war with armed terrorists sponsored by Pakistan in Kashmir.
Many might say that Sikhs were even a smaller minority than Kashmiri Hindus and yet they stayed back in Kashmir. In fact, Kashmiri Sikhs like Pandits were targeted too and had an equally strong reason to flee from the Valley. The Chattisingpora massacre perpetrated by terrorists was enough to instil fear among Kashmiri Sikhs and drive them away from Kashmir and yet they chose to stay in Kashmir and fight their battles with whatever means they could. But Kashmiri Hindus should not compare themselves with Kashmiri Sikhs. Also Read: New Delhi Needs To Be Wary Of Biden Administration
Because what we, Kashmiri Hindus, as a community forgot and Kashmiri Sikhs remembered was that ‘unity is strength’. Even as Sikhs were merely 1% of the population, they stood against all odds and fought it out with courage and honour. There is a very famous quote, ‘He who fights, can lose. He who doesn’t fight, has already lost’. So we, Kashmiri Hindus, as a community lost a battle we never fought.
What happened is our past. What comes and lies ahead is in our hands. Since the 80s we as a community, have not learned anything. We have not gathered together even once. Our political leadership has not been heard. There is no realistic roadmap for our future. Some are reconciled with just townships and free electricity. Some have accepted their fate as a community on the verge of extinction.
The way we have been, it seems Kashmiri Hindus have no stake in their homeland Kashmir. Because, we as a community have failed to unite as a single force. Instead, we are dividing ourselves by the day. We have been divided and reduced to diaspora, Sangarsh Samitis, Kashmir Samaj, Kashmir Vichar Manch and numerous other splinter groups. You name it and we have a group for it.
The recent cold-blooded murder of Sh. Makhan Lal Bindroo rattled the entire community. Many of us were on TV debates, Twitter, Facebook and even held a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Was Sh. Bindroo murdered in Delhi? Are we fighting for New Delhi?
None of our groups showed the courage to gather at Lal Chowk or Dal Gate or Batmaloo in Srinagar. Our younger generations have all the resources. We live in the poshest cities of the world. We drive luxury cars but when it comes to spending a penny for the cause, we are victims of the exodus.
On the other hand, look at the Kashmiri Sikh community. They all protested against the killing of Smt. Supinder Kour in Srinagar, solidly coming forward as a united community in Kashmir.
We, Kashmiri Hindus, do nothing but condemn the violence against our community members from TV Studios and living rooms but never dare to come to the ground. Not a single celebrity or a famous face among the community flew from Delhi or London or the United States to stand in solidarity with the Bindroos. Why?
A group of Kashmiri Hindus was seen dancing after the abrogation of 370 and 35A. Was that dance merely for television? We have more than 800 families living in the valley. Is it not our moral responsibility to stand with them in this fight or are we only going to convey condolence messages on phone. We need to be with them as a force on the ground, we need to assure them of our support whenever required, we need to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the times of fear and grief. Instead, we are spreading fear psychosis that we are back to the 80s and 90s, that this is second exodus, blah, blah.
No, we are not in the 80s or 90s. We are larger in numbers. The stumbling blocks in our way—Article 370 and Article 35A—are history. Our security forces deployed in Kashmir are now well-experienced in fighting Pakistan’s sponsored terrorism. Also Read: PCI Delegation’s Visit To Kashmir Was A Bluff To Promote A Selfish Political Agenda
Kashmiri Hindus who left the valley after the recent gruesome killings because of fear or other concerns, eventually will come back for their jobs and livelihood. These barbaric acts won’t stop anytime soon but running away from our motherland is no solution. We need to stay and face this together or else accept that we are finished as a community. Because without land, there is no community; without Kashmir, we are not Kashmiri Hindus.
The way forward is that we all gather at Lal Chowk, Srinagar on the Exodus Day. That we start celebrating Shivratri at Shankaracharya and we send a loud and clear message to the world that we are inhabitants of this land, and we belong here. We we must fight for the land our ancestors nurtured with their sweat and blood. Governments come and go but it is the duty of the native to defend his land. It’s high time we abandon our petty interests or differences and come together as a single community. We must stop running away. Instead, we all must walk together towards Lal Chowk. Remember, fortune favors only the bold. Also Read & Watch: Large Candlelight Vigil Organised In Srinagar’s Lal Chowk In Honour Of Minorities Killed
(Sahil Tikoo is a socio-political activist who spends his time between Srinagar and Jammu.)
[Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs, and views expressed by various authors and forum participants on this website are personal.]