Pan­dits must re­turn to Kash­mir

Views from Sri­na­gar

Pakistan Observer - - KASHMIR - [Con­trib­u­tors: Ish­faq Naseem, Daan­ish Bin Nabi, Man­zoor-ul-Has­san, Su­maiya Yusuf, Liyaqat Ali, Marouf Gazi, Shafaq Shah, and Man­soor Peer]

the mi­grant Pan­dits’ set­tle­ment in Jammu. No­body can stop Pan­dits from tak­ing up res­i­dence in Kash­mir when­ever they like. But ask them whether they would want to be pushed into ghet­tos or they would pre­fer to build their own homes in Jammu with gen­er­ous help from govern­ment. Af­ter all, Jammu is an in­te­gral part of the state. But if the Pan­dits in­di­cate their pref­er­ence to come back soon, let the govern­ment in­vest good­will be­tween them and the Mus­lims so they re­ally feel at home when­ever they re­turn.

Dr. Sameer Koul: Ba­si­cally, ev­ery­one is a pack­age of some good things and some bad. Both com­mu­ni­ties have to un­der­stand each other till they cry for each other’s pres­ence. Forc­ing one form of liv­ing and then other form of liv­ing is mean­ing­less. It is not only the mat­ter of con­crete and bricks be­cause your life is not only about liv­ing inside four walls, you have a life to live which com­prises your re­cre­ation, spir­i­tual well be­ing, men­tal well be­ing, oc­cu­pa­tion etc. you are set­tling in a so­ci­ety on the whole rather than liv­ing in the iso­la­tion. The thing that needs to be ac­tively ban­ished from both com­mu­ni­ties is that racist thought which un­for­tu­nately has cap­tured both the com­mu­ni­ties which nowa­days is be­com­ing very strong.

The ho­mo­ge­neous main­stream gets a voice and there voice works, all these camps ei­ther temporary or per­ma­nent have no mean­ing. Peo­ple have to want and un­der­stand each other and that can only be done by so­ci­ety, peo­ple to peo­ple con­tact. Oth­er­wise, be­com­ing vo­cif­er­ous for one par­tic­u­lar kind of liv­ing is not serv­ing the pur­pose; it is in fact caus­ing dis­ser­vice to the cause. Be­cause what then hap­pens, the pol­i­tics and other things creep in and the re­ally hon­est ma­jor­ity on both sides be­comes hostage to 10 to 15 per­cent vo­cal peo­ple be it in govern­ment or in the civil so­ci­ety be­cause they have their own ob­jec­tives and vested in­ter­ests. As far as tran­sit camps are con­cerned, I think Me­hbooba Mufti is do­ing this be­cause she thinks it is a step for­ward and she feels may be with be­ing with BJP it will score her a point but that is not true. The truth is peo­ple need to miss each other, cry for each other and it is then only pos­si­ble. There should be mixed liv­ing and it should hap­pen slowly on its own. It should not be or­ga­nized, mo­ti­vated or cre­ated by the govern­ment be­cause then there will be re­ac­tions to it and it is sure to fail. It has to hap­pen im­per­cep­ti­bly and the govern­ment ob­vi­ously has to be sen­si­tive to needs for ev­ery­body.

Why only mi­grants? It is the duty of the govern­ment to be sen­si­tive to needs of its peo­ple ir­re­spec­tive of caste, creed or re­li­gion. Why only se­lected peo­ple? If the truth needs to be told by and large 90 per­cent of all Kash­miris are in­se­cure. Even the Kash­miri Mus­lim is as in­se­cure as a Kash­miri Pandit, the rea­son of in­se­cu­rity may be dif­fer­ent but they are all in­se­cure peo­ple. This is the rea­son why Kash­miri peo­ple never have a point of view, that is why they are with ev­ery po­lit­i­cal party and that is why they are with Aazadi and at the same time not with Aazadi be­cause they are a con­fused lot.

Prof. Rekha Chaud­hary: The ques­tion of re­turn of Kash­miri Pan­dits is gen­er­ally asked from the per­spec­tive of Pan­dits only. The ques­tion should in fact be raised from the per­spec­tive of Kash­miri so­ci­ety which in the words of many Kash­miri lead­ers is in­com­plete with­out the Pan­dits. With Pan­dits leav­ing, Kash­miri so­ci­ety has lost its di­ver­sity and has be­come a onere­li­gion so­ci­ety. Since Pan­dits are in­te­gral part of Kash­miri cul­ture, their pres­ence will add depth to the Kash­miri iden­tity and make it more in­clu­sive. How­ever, to en­sure the re­turn of the Pan­dits, the civil so­ci­ety must play more proac­tive role.

With ev­ery­day pass­ing, com­plex­ity gets added to their re­turn and it can­not be pre­sumed that they will sim­ply come back to the places to which they be­longed. Apart from the fact that a large num­ber of Pan­dits do not have the houses to go back to in their na­tive places, there is the sim­ple ques­tion of choice. For those keen on go­ing to their na­tive places, they should be en­cour­aged to do so, but those who are hes­i­tant at the mo­ment to do so not only for se­cu­rity rea­son but also for other so­cioe­co­nomic rea­sons, should be given the choice to live wher­ever they want to live. Tra­di­tion­ally, though the Pan­dits were scat­tered all over Kash­mir, yet, there were ar­eas which were largely in­hab­ited by them - Karan Na­gar, Habba Kadal and Rainawari, in Sri­na­gar, for in­stance. Hence, their be­ing set­tled in clus­ter colonies should not raise many eye­brows. Af­ter all, with so much of cul­tural shar­ing with the Kash­miri Mus­lims, they can­not be lead­ing iso­lated lives.

Prof. Gull Wani: The re­turn of Kash­miri Pan­dits (KP) is pri­mar­ily a hu­man­i­tar­ian is­sue and they have a right to re­turn. It augers well, that all sec­tions of po­lit­i­cal spec­trum in Kash­mir are sup­port­ive of their re­turn. How­ever, there are many strain ar­eas that need to be sorted out first. The mi­gra­tion of KPs was pri­mar­ily due to out­break of mil­i­tancy in 1990. The KP is­sue is not the only is­sue con­nected to the larger prob­lems of Kash­mir. There are many other sharp edged is­sues which we need to un­der­stand. Sec­ond, their re­turn should not be the re­spon­si­bil­ity of In­dian state only but there is need for build­ing bridges of un­der­stand­ing be­tween the two com­mu­ni­ties.

The in­sti­tu­tion of state in the sub­con­ti­nent has suf­fered se­ri­ous dent in its sec­u­lar and plu­ral char­ac­ter and it is ex­hibits ma­jori­tar­ian char­ac­ter. The pol­i­tics has be­come po­lar­iz­ing. The State govern­ment led by PDP/BJP has suf­fered a cred­i­bil­ity deficit and it can­not be a real in­ter­locu­tor in the re­turn of KP. The civil so­ci­ety ac­tors, opin­ion lead­ers, youth, and women from both com­mu­ni­ties need to come for­ward to ad­dress the im­por­tant is­sue. More specif­i­cally, the com­mu­nity lead­ers hold­ing ex­treme views need to be in­volved in the process so that the re­turn be­comes peace­ful and sus­tain­able.

Dileep Padgaonkar, Senior Jour­nal­ist: The re­turn of the Kash­miri Pan­dits is a hu­man prob­lem. The Pan­dits live in de­plorable con­di­tions in the camps in Jammu re­gion and have even sold their prop­er­ties in Sri­na­gar. They left Kash­mir in the con­di­tions when mil­i­tancy was at its peak. The in­ci­dents of mil­i­tancy have in­creased in the last few months. Mil­i­tants have launched at­tacks in which many of the se­cu­rity force per­son­nel have been killed which have raised the se­cu­rity con­cerns. The re­turn of Kash­miri mi­grants has to be en­sured in a man­ner that the se­cu­rity will not not jeop­ar­dised. —Cour­tesy: Ris­ing Kash­mir

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