New Delhi: 25 Years of Exile; 25 Years of Denial…I’ll prevail. I’m a Kashmiri Pandit”. This slogan on the T-shirts and headbands donned by participants at a rally of Kashmir Pandits at Jantar Mantar reflected both determination and desperation of a community living in exile in its own country.
“We are the primary stakeholders in the matter, how come we are never a party to any discussion on the issue of our ‘ghar wapsi’ in the valley? We the Kashmiri Pandits categorically reject the Central government’s latest proposal to resettle us in different clusters and in mixed localities in Kashmir,” they say.
The protest rally of the community, organized by an umbrella body of Kashmiri Pandits called ‘KP Mission 5000’, on Sunday sought to convey its disapproval of the government's efforts to resettle them in separate colonies.
“The centre is talking about the return of Kashmiri Pandits, but it’s not ready to discuss the issue with us – the only stakeholders in the entire episode; instead the government is ready for a discussion with the Hurriyat. Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and separatists like Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Yasin Malik won’t decide our return to the valley as they don’t want us to be back,” Indian filmmaker and social activist, Ashoke Pandit, who had come from Mumbai to join the rally told Firstpost.
Referring to his acclaimed documentary on the exodus of KPs - And the world remained silent – Pandit, also a Censor Board member, said, “With the new PDP-BJP government in power, the situation in the state is gradually heading towards 1990s when the separatists and militants openly killed Hindus and burned their houses and temples. Has the CM ever tried to sit and discuss with the KPs? Why no action has been initiated against the killers? Because, Mufti is pro-fundamentalists and separatists. The worst is that the BJP is playing second fiddle to the PDP in J&K. It’s high time the Centre realized its mistake and acted sensibly.”
Unlike in the past, this time the Pandits have decided to unite under the banner of ‘KPs’ by setting up a coordination committee.
One of the key members of the committee, Raj Nehru pointed out, “I got in touch with the seven major bodies of KPs and formed an integrated group to initiate this movement. The government cannot take any decision without understanding the root cause of our problems. The killers of KPs are roaming free even after 30 years. Let the government reopen the cases, and we’ll provide evidence of crimes committed against the Pandits.”
He added, “The problem is not about KPs versus Muslims, but of systematic Islamization of the state by the radicals at the geo-political level.”
Added another coordinator, Rashneek Kher, “The government seems to be out of its mind. It has allotted only 50 acres of land for the resettlement of 2,500 families, including mixed communities. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed doesn’t want KPs to return because it doesn’t suit his politics.”
While highlighting the problems of KPs and their grievances against both Centre and the State, the committee has a set of demands which they want the government to address.
· Both the Central and the state governments must speak to the community leaders before formulating any plan for the return of KPs.
· A commission of inquiry on genocide that led to the exodus of KPs.
· State government must re-open prosecution cases against all those who were involved in the killings of KPs.
· Order a trial for all the heinous crimes committed against the community at the hands of Islamist extremists, yet unpunished. Immediate trial of JKLF terrorist Farooq Ahmed Dar (alias Bitta Karate), who confessed to killing more than 20 KPs.
· A critical confidence-building measure for the KP community.
“The government is not serious about our return to the valley. The condition has worsened after the formation of the new government in J&K. We, the Pandits became targets of orchestrated massacres even after our mass exodus of 1990. That is why it is important today that we must feel secure when we return to the Valley and it is imperative that our views are taken into cognizance,” said Ashwani Kachroo, a Delhi-based finance professional.
Women who participated in the rally itoo voiced serious concern over their safety back home.
“No action has been taken against the killers. Today the separatists are back in action with stone pelting and anti-India slogans on streets. Personally, I continue to feel unsafe and I’m made to feel as if I’m an alien in my homeland. There’s no visible change, even after the BJP being a part of the government. The assurances that the BJP gave before the election have remained unfulfilled, which is highly disappointing for the KPs,” said Sunaina, a participant at the rally.
Pankaj Dhar, a volunteer, was quick to add, “Now again after six years, one can find Pakistani flags and pro-Pak slogans in Kashmir. The political will to deal with the problem is still missing. The BJP has disappointed.”
Updated Date: May 04, 2015 13:55 PM