Kashmiri Pandits: Forgotten refugees in their own land – Ravi Shankar

Kashmiri Pandits

Ravi Shankar Etteth“In Jaipur, where the Congress party speaks of preserving its secular agenda and votebanks, there is no mention of this bloodied little dot on the map of India’s most-troubled state. Because Kashmiri pundits are not a votebank, neither for the Congress party nor for Omar Abdullah, who has been asking them to return home, promising their safety or security. How a chief minister, who cannot guard a sarpanch from fundamentalist bullets, will protect Kashmiri pundits is a conundrum that taunts history as a grim joke.” – Ravi Shankar

panditsSome massacres are more equal than the other. On the 15th anniversary of a discounted genocide, and the brutal displacement of more than 300,000 Indians, the voices of copyright conscience stay schtum. One pogrom doesn’t justify the other, but selective mourning only discredits the liberal cause.

On each anniversary of the 2002 Gujarat riots, Ahmedabad becomes the destination of a secular pilgrimage. But none of the mourners have ever taken the bus to Wandhama. In this forgotten town, there are no forlorn photographs on ruined, fire-scarred walls; no macabre ghost stories to tell on television; and no candles burn in the memory of those who perished there on January 25, 1983, during Shab-e-Qadr, the holiest night of the month of Ramzan. This week, 30 years ago, 23 Kashmiri pundits—four children, nine women and 10 men—were gunned down with Kalashnikovs by the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), funded and trained by Pakistan. This was an omen of darker times to come. Seven years later, on January 4, 1990, the HuM—created by Jamaat-e-Islami to wage jihad against India and make Kashmir a part of Pakistan—issued a warning through the Urdu press, demanding that all Hindus leave Kashmir. As the government of the flamboyant, pleasure-loving chief minister Farooq Abdullah cowered in Srinagar, Kalashnikov-wielding jihadis went on the rampage against pundits. Loudspeakers in mosques throughout Kashmir played the slogans: ‘Yahan kya chalega, Nizam-e-Mustafa (What do we want here? The rule of Shariah)’, and ‘Asi gachchi Pakistan, batao roas te batanev san (We want Pakistan along with Hindu women but without their men)’. At that time Chandra Shekhar was the prime minister, who was propped up by a Kashmiri pundit, Rajiv Gandhi. During this time, all Kashmiris were forced by Pak-sponsored terrorists to re-set their watches to Pakistan Standard Time.

Amnesty International has ignored the plight of Kashmiri PanditsFor the 300,000-odd Kashmiri pundits—or 90 per cent of their population, largely living in refugee camps in Jammu and Delhi—it is still Pakistan Standard Time; the hour of horror has never ended. None from Amnesty International or Asia Watch has bothered to visit the squalid camps. One hundred and five Hindu-owned educational institutions were destroyed, 103 Hindu religious institutions—temples and ashrams—were burnt down, 14, 430 shops and businesses owned by pundits were looted and occupied, more than 1,100 of them were raped and murdered, and 20,000 pundit homes were set on fire. According to historian Kaia Leather’s Kashmiri Separatists: Origins, Competing Ideologies and Prospects for Resolution of the Conflict, around 400,000 Kashmiri Pundits fled their homeland—where they had lived for more than five centuries—and ethnic violence killed more than 30,000. Another historian Rebecca Knuth noted that secessionist groups raped, tortured and killed thousands of Kashmiri pundits. From 1983 until January 19, 1990, the ethnic cleansing of Indian citizens continued in Kashmir.

In Jaipur, where the Congress partyspeaks of preserving its secular agenda and votebanks  there is no mention of this bloodied little dot on the map of India’s most-troubled state. Because Kashmiri pundits are not a votebank  neither for the Congress party nor for Omar Abdullah, who has been asking them to return home, promising their safety or security. How a chief minister, who cannot Omar Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah & Sonia Gandhi: Good-bye Pandits! Have a nice day!guard a sarpanch from fundamentalist bullets, will protect Kashmiri pundits is a conundrum that taunts history as a grim joke.

India, traditionally, is a communally tolerant society. Today there is anger, both among the public and the Indian Army at Pakistani brutality. Our politicians may have papered over the rage with sanctimonious speeches on peace. The ghosts of war, however, dictate the relationship between the neighbours. But the ghosts of peace remain to be exorcised. As long as a holocaust perpetrated on Indian soil by Pakistan remains unaddressed, the ability of the Indian state to protect its citizens will continue to be mocked. And no Chintan Shivir is going to change that. – The New Indian Express, 19 January 2013

» Ravi Shankar writes a column for The New Indian Express. 

Martand Surya Temple  near Anantnag, Kashmir 1868

General view of Temple of Martand, near Anantnag, Kashmir. Probable date of temple A.D. 490-555. Probable date of colonnade A.D. 693-729. Photograph taken by John Burke in 1868. The Surya Temple is situated on a high plateau and commands superb views over the Kashmir valley. Dedicated to the Sun God, it is considered a masterpiece of early temple architecture in Kashmir. It was built by Lalitaditya Muktapida (ruled c.724–c.760) of the Karkota dynasty, one of the greatest of Kashmir’s rulers, under whom both Buddhism and Hinduism flourished. The temple was completely destroyed by Sikandar Butshikan the Idol-Breaker in early 15th century. – Wikipedia

4 Responses

  1. Steps should be taken to rehabilitate the displaced Kashmiri Pandits in their actual homeland Kashmir. Thanks to Sh. Ravi Shanker ji for the enlightening information.

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  2. Muslims are a curse on the society. I was in the Customs department. Most of the smugglers are muslims. Most of them are criminals. These good for nothing fellows are a great burden on the society. It is well known fact which can be verified from the newspapers also that most of the scams or some nefarious business- the master mind will be a muslim. I dont say all muslims are terrorists but most terrorists are muslims. Destruction come easy to them. they are the virus of the world. It will be no wonder if these barbarians one day will try to divide our country again. Their numbers are swelling. It seems they are good at that. Their %age population has risen alarmingly since independence. It is high time everybody wakes up.

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  3. The tragic story of the Kashmiri Pandits seems to have been forgotten! As for the picture of the temple in ruins, it speaks to the destruction caused by Islamic barbarians!

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  4. when pandit jawahar lal nehru and his kins (who himself belonged to kashmir with his wife Kamala surely belonged to Kashmir) could not save his fellow Kashmiri how do you think will save Hindostan? Never. Scrap nehru/gandagis.

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