Pandits must return to Kashmir
Views from Srinagar
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