Kashmiri Pandits on January 19 protested at Jantar Mantar in the national capital to mark the 27th anniversary of Kashmiri Pandit Exodus Day, hoping to go back to their homes with dignity. They protested against the non-serious approach of the government for their rehabilitation. After the 18 months of the BJP government there has been no progress in terms of bringing them back to Kashmir.
Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah tweeted:
Actor Anupam Kher, who is himself is a Kashmiri Pandit, and a staunch supporter of PM Modi also tweeted:
Their heart wrenching and poignant tales of persecution, struggle and wounds that are yet to heal, has been described in a tome “A Long Dream of Home: The persecution, exile and exodus of Kashmiri Pandits,” written by Siddhartha Gigoo and Varad Sharma.
The former chief minister of state Dr. Farooq Abdullah was present on the occasion of the book launch. Abdullah said, “Don’t wait till the last guns stop firing. Come home!”
It has been now 26 years when Kashmiri Pandit exodus took place. During these times nothing has been changed and no concrete steps were taken to bring back them to their homes.
There have been several attempts in the past to rehabilitate the Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley by proposing the erection of townships but that, Gigoo said , “will not be home. It will be nothing less than a house arrest.”
Sharma suggests a “dialogue” to restore peace in the Valley.
BJP in their election manifesto had mentioned that they will settle down the displaced Kashmiri Pandits among their top priorities.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said that the major impediment in the rehabilitation of the Kashmiri Pandits lies in the fear of losing their lives and homes all over again. “Even though Farooq has his heart at the right place but even he cannot guarantee the security and nobody wants to be the guinea pig,” he said.
The book mentions the narratives of friendship and love as proof that the migration has not made the Pandits bitter against Muslims in the valley. In fact, they admitted that Muslims too suffered in Kashmir. Sharing an anecdote, Gigoo recalled the affection of a Muslim cab driver in Jammu who offered to take him home to his ailing grandmother when everybody else had refused. The driver also declined to take any money from him.
Gigoo said he still remembers the stranger’s act of kindness. “Kashmir is still surviving because of such instances of humanity,” he said.
On the other hand, Rahul Bhat, a Kashmiri Pandit model said that he will name his new film “To hell with the Heaven”. The shooting of this flim will take place in Kashmir Valley. Bhat said that shooting will take place from February 15 in Kashmir Valley, and the theme of the film is about a Kashmiri Pandit child.
It is a short film with maximum shooting based in the Valley, from where the Kashmiri Pandits fled after 1989-1990. Bhat said that the film is about his own childhood. “I am not from those who have never been to Kashmir, never seen migration from Kashmir to Jammu and suddenly found new love for Kashmir.”
The issue of Kashmir Pandits needs to be resolved. People of Kashmir have always wanted them to return to their homeland. But not like the the separate colonies for them which became a very controversial issue in a sensitive place like Kashmir.
Many people believe that politics is being played, and they are being used by different political parties. Kashmiriyat is incomplete without Kashmiri Pandits. But the big question is will they ever return to their homeland?