Common roots

Muslims and Pandits of Kashmir share a common ethos

WORDS WITHIN

FIRDOUS SYED

Obfuscating the harsh reality serves no purpose. It’s time to accept the bitter truth that Kashmiri Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits despite belonging to almost same ethnic-stock are a deeply divided people. In spite of sharing the same space for centuries together---the unfortunate Pandit migration is a recent development and one truly hopes that the return of Pandits to Valley will help  bridge the social void caused by their mass exodus---- the two otherwise socially amenable communities are bitterly divided by their differing political persuasions.  The mass migration certainly has caused severe challenges for the Pandits, yet they seem to be fully satisfied with what India is all about. On the contrary Kashmiri Muslims not in narrow linguist sense but on the whole as a nation--- irrespective of the artificial Kashmiri, Pahari, Gujjar divide--- are intensely dissatisfied with their present political status.  The continued ordeal faced by the Kashmiri nation is centuries old and it is equally true that the search for destiny is as old as the yoke of subjugation. It’s obvious that hardly needs any reiteration. 
The intense search for dignity and honour is derived from the deep conviction that Kashmir is a unique entity that needs complete protection from the state driven processes of forcible integration. Besides the evil designs of cultural assimilation also poses great threats to the unique Kashmiri identity.  What makes Kashmir unique? The mighty snow-capped mountains, never-ending green meadows, the pristine gushing water, the Wular, the Dal, the flora and fauna, the Deodar forests, makes us proud. But the breathtaking beauty of Kashmir makes equally proud every citizen be it Pandit or a Muslim. It is not dispute over the ownership of the valley; Kashmir never has been a sectarian cause. Whenever it is sought to make sectarian it becomes ugly and hateful. What makes Kashmir unique is not the territory alone; its picturesque beauty is matter of immense pride. However struggle is for the preservation of culture and not the nature only. And it is a matter of fact that culture of Kashmiri Muslims has evolved on the pivot of their faith. Why to be apologetic, it’s the faith of a common Kashmir Muslim that influences his worldview that includes his/her value systems and of course culture as well. And in case that culture gets eroded what is left-behind of that unique identity? When there is nothing left to preserve of that unique identity, why  struggle and for what to struggle?  
Kapil Kak, a son of the soil, during his long distinguished career as a senior Air Force officer has earned many laurels for himself. After his retirement he is actively associated with many think tanks. He recently visited valley to attend a seminar on rehabilitation of Pandits. Kapil Kak is known to me for many years now; it is always a pleasure to meet him. During our meeting at the Circuit House Sonwar, Pandit leader Sanjay Tikku also joined in. Sanjay and his family belong to that group of minuscule Pandit community that despite facing many hardships stayed back in the valley. They were even ridiculed by the migrating community for reposing their trust in the Muslims. The courage of the Pundit brethren, who stayed back, needs to be properly appreciated by the majority community. Mr. Tikku apparently an unassuming person sounds to be a treasure trove of information; rather he seems to be over-informed. It was but natural for me in our very first meeting to inquire from Sanjay about his personal welfare and that of the Pandit community of the valley.  Obviously Mr. Tikku’s concerns included physical security and economic well-being of his community and how safe return of Pandits can be made possible.
But what astonished me was the fact that Kashmiri Pandit leader was more concerned about the perceivable cultural dilution of his community: “our children learn the lingo of the majority, though in cities we are politically conscious and are able to influence and guide them properly but situation in countryside is pathetic and alarming”. Despite the fact that Kashmiri is a common language for both Hindus and Muslims, Sanjay being concerned about the purity of even dialect is something extraordinary. There is no reason to lament the cultural concerns of a community howsoever superficial. Yet something started really intriguing me inside. How many thousands of Kashmiri boys and girls are studying outside the valley. Are we really concerned about their cultural moorings? Incidentally earlier during the course of discussion Mr. Kak had cited a figure of approximately 1,50,000 Kashmiri Muslim youth pursuing their educational and professional careers outside the J&K. Disgustingly, suddenly I was reminded that very recently a Muslim girl from my home district studying in Jammu married with a person of a different faith.  Moreover alarming is the way the girl publicly denounced her religion in the court. Her father, personally known to me, nearly collapsed in the court. Cultural aggression is a matter of fact; it’s being experienced in every aspect of the life here in Kashmir. In case we are still in a denial mode, what can be done about an ostrich mentality? Sooner than later we will cease to exist as a unique cultural entity, yet alarm bells are ringing nowhere.  Career is important, education quintessentially important but what about culture?  Whose baby it is?

(Feedback at firdoussyed@yahoo.com)

Lastupdate on : Fri, 16 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 16 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 17 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST




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