Saturday, 19 January 2013

Migration of Kashmiri Pandits (KPs): Don't make it Kashmiri Pandit Vs Kashmiri Muslim Issue

The Kashmiri Pandits (KPs) had to leave their home state Kashmir. Their displacement was a monumental tragedy.

Every sensitive persons understands their pain and speaks in support of the community. Even 'separatist' leaders today urge the KPs to return.

While every such issue must be looked with a humanitarian aspect, the Kashmir issue gets communalised in a strange way: Militants targeted Kashmiri Pandits but they also targeted Kashmiri Muslims, thousands of whom died in the last three decades.

On one hand the issue of exile of the KPs is raised, the issue of security forces' excesses is a Holy Cow. Nobody wants to discuss the 'mass graves' found in the Valley. TV channels don't want to talk about the 'missing thousands' of children and teenagers in J&K.

They ignore atrocities like rapes and custodial tortures. Life is not easy for a Kashmiri even today. The channels don't show it. Journalists visit refugee camps but avoid talking about fake encounters or human rights abuse. Over 200 Kashmiri Pandits died in the militant attacks in Kashmir. It is a shame. 

But also around 47,000 Kashmiri Muslims have been killed in this conflict. This is also a big shame. If the former is a holocaust or genocide as described repeatedly, what is the latter? Both are not different and should not be seen differently.

Ironically, in the last few years, focus is less on getting the KPs back, but more on exploiting the migration of the Pandit community, to serve narrow political interests and further a particular ideology that divides people on religious lines.

The right-wing political parties and groups who have tried their best to milk the issue of displacement has never supported the Kashmiri Pandits wholeheartedly. For them, it is just a routine exercise to target the so-called secularists or further their own agenda.

Often people say that KPs shouldn't have migrated, rather they should have stayed, endured and fought. Just like Muslims who suffered tremendously in Gujarat but continued to live despite a hostile administration, police and angry neighbours.

I don't buy this argument and to discuss it more than two decades later, it's a bad joke. All situations are different. There are different versions of what happened in the era when Jagmohan was governor and KP exodus began. Today the J&K government is repeatedly calling KPs to return.

Government may not be doing as much as one expects but the society is also welcoming them. Separatist leaders say that they open arms for KPs. Hundreds of jobs have been given to KPs recently and they have returned also. Muslims go out of way to ensure success of Amarnath Yatra (Vaishnav Devi) every year.

There are many real life stories of Muslims keeping the temples safe all these years. In this situation, pitting KPs against KMs is totally wrong and deplorable. On social networking websites, enormous amount of hate is directed against Muslims, who are blamed for KP exodus.

This serves the Sangh Parivar, BJP and RSS. But it doesn't help the Kashmiris, either Hindus or Muslims. It doesn't help non-Kashmiris in India. This only helps in furthering the divisive agenda of a segment. But many fall in this trap.

Unfortunately, people who talk of one tragedy, don't want to talk about another tragedy. Naturally, the issue gets communalised and puts victims as opponents. Why both tragedies shouldn't be spoken about in the same breath? When you talk of militants killing people, why it doesn't include all.

Why the encounters, illegal detentions and firing on 'stone pelters' (teenagers and boys) is not considered as a tragedy. It either deliberately (by design) or unknowingly becomes a Kashmiri Pandit Vs Kashmiri Muslim issue. We shouldn't let this happen. Don't divide. Don't differentiate sufferings.

It is not KP Vs KM. It should be Kashmiri Pandit+Kashmiri Muslim. Or simply Kashmir.

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