Resident KPs up in agitation

Kashmiri  Pandits who,  unlike majority of their co-community members,  and whom government called as Non-Migrants  (NM ),  didn’t move out of the Valley in 1990  are up in agitation to  have their pending demands addressed by the government.  Few days back they lodged a protest in the compound of Press Enclave Srinagar under the banner of Kashmiri  Pandit Sangarsh Samiti. The  Samiti  President informed the gathering that they have resubmitted grievances to the state authorities on 12th August 2020 and are waiting for a positive response. And if it doesn’t  come within the  stipulated  time,  he   announced,   “ the   KPSS will be forced to go for  a fast-unto-death.”

Their  demands are:

  • Extension of PM’s job package and apportionment of 500 posts / one job per family for 808 Non-Migrant KPs / Kashmiri Hindu families – which has been already approved by  the MHA; cash assistance
  • Safe accommodation, protection, preservation and restoration of temples and other religious places belonging to the  Hindus in Kashmir.
  • Their other grievance is that after  5th August 2019 developments they have been suffering on account of the political vacuum that has engulfed the Valley.

The NM are  asking for  the  bare minimum that  is  required to  keep  one  physically   and emotionally afloat.  These  demands are in no way different from what the  Pandits, who      moved out  (officially  called  Migrants) have been projecting. In their case,  too,   government   has not responded. It  is  a tragedy for this community that nobody  is bothered about its plight. Story  remains  same for  both  NM   and  the  Migrants. They may be living apart  for the moment but  both suffer  a  pervading  sense of  “ orphanhood”.     KP is a forgotten lot  only to be recalled from the  consigned  record when, in Delhi or elsewhere , it becomes necessary   for the ruling party   to  confront  the  adversary and  score  a political point. It matters least   whether the  point  scored  is   relevant to the  community’s  cause  or not .  Shrill   debate  over, they  stand  reverted back  to the  cold store.

Edward   Said  tells us that “Exile is the unhealable  rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home.”   For the  Pandits  it  is   a double whammy – separation  not only  from  ‘true home’  but  also  a segregation from the Kashmir society, at large. What  aggravates the tragedy is the  fact  that  Pandits are made to suffer a  theory of   intra-community rift, also.  A  cunning  politician  discusses them  in  the   abhorrent  terminologies  like Non-Migrants and Migrants, just to drive a wedge  between them. The worst part of the  exile tale  is  that  a   nomenclature   is   encouraged   to emerge.   Now,   KP  is   either      a     Migrant     or   a  Non  –Migrant:    beyond  these  unpleasant   prefixes   there is nothing  to define him.

Year 1990  gave  birth to story  of trials, tribulations, deprivation, trauma  and loss of opportunities. It  generated  a  kind of  social barrier between Migrant Pandits and the Non –Migrants – a process  of  social stigmatization went under way. Encouraged by the inimical elements,   one sees the other with a degree of suspicion. The unwelcome fall out of  the  exodus has been the the creation of complexes in the community, like that of adventurism and helplessness.  This strange phenomenon of looking at each other rather than to  each other has set in.    As  things  portend,  it   is likely  to remain so even after the unpleasant phase of  unintended migration comes to an end.

It is time to reiterate  that NMs and  Migrants  are of the same stock and will remain  so. Momentary separation  doesn’t    matter.   No  artificial  barrier will  hide the truth .  Some  may have  moved out  in the circumstances  which we must appreciate in a  proper perspective.   Similarly, we have to appreciate  the  grit and tenacity  of  our  brethren   who  stuck to   the roots   despite  heavy odds, and  give them  credit  for  keeping   community’s flag high in Kashmir, at the time when game seemed to  be over  for the nationalist  forces.  It is a travesty that vested interests are portraying them as the adversaries. It is better to  realize   that  what comes   to either  of them, in the  ultimate analysis,   it helps the community  to survive, as a whole.

There is a convergence of sorts in projecting the demands when NMs seek protection, preservation and proper management of temples and shrines of the Hindus, in Kashmir,  which have been plundered by the unscrupulous elements.  Over the period of time, the displaced community has been agitating for the same.   This is a time to display a  united spirit and join  hands to lend support the NMs in seeking redressal of their grievances. After all they are the grievances of whole Pandit community.  The governments in J & K  and  New Delhi will do better to understand this.

B L SARAF is former  Principal District and Sessions Judge