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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

How many Kashmirs outside Kashmir?

The conspirators conspired and used all the means at their disposal to terrorize and drive out Kashmiri Hindus, who made up small minority in the valley. Overnight, the fleeing Hindus were rendered homeless and forced to live life of refugees in their own country. As no heads rolled in the administration for failing to protect the helpless Hindus and no conspirator/terrorist was ever punished for the heinous crimes, the message was loud and clear for the criminals.

Do whatever you want to do with Hindus, Bharat hardly cares.The perpetrators, emboldened by the Bharatiya state’s indifference, went on to do other tasks that they thought could eventually strengthen their case for a merger with Pakistan. These tasks included burning abandoned homes, encroaching lands (personal orchids, temple lands, cremation grounds, etc.), and purchasing properties of Hindus at throwaway prices.

Though the ultimate goal of integrating Kashmir with Pakistan remains elusive for conspirators, they have succeeded in erasing the traces of Hindu presence in the valley to a great extent. There is no single village or town in the valley now that is densely populated by Hindus. Most of the burnt houses and dilapidated structures have been cleared and new buildings have come up there.

Consequently, anyone who visits valley today and is unaware of the events in Kashmir in the 90s could easily be made to believe that a community called Kashmiri Pandits were never harassed to move out. The traveler has no way of finding the truth as there are neither people nor structures that can call out the lies and narrate the story of turbulent time. The only symbols of Hindu civilizational presence in valley are abandoned temples that are guarded by defense forces.

The widespread looting that occurred in the valley in 1986 served as a foreshadowing of what was to come. Had the then government acted on time, there would have been no displacement. But it did not. Despite the traumatic exodus, all was not yet lost, and the government could have reversed the effects of displacement if it had so desired.

The best time to work on rehabilitation program was immediately after the displacement or even a few years later. However, successive governments failed to prioritize it, allowing the problem to worsen.

As a result, 32 years after the relocation, it now appears nearly impossible to rehabilitate Hindus in the valley. After all, 32 years is a long period, and both the conspirators and the victims have gone many miles in opposite directions during that time.

While we have yet to resolve the Kashmir problem, similar problems are surfacing in other parts of the country. Exodus of Hindus from various segments of the country is now a common occurrence. First from Kairana, then from Sundar Nagari (Delhi), Arthala Ghaziabad, West Bengal, so on and so forth. It is unfortunate that Hindus are forced to take the extreme step of leaving their homes as political parties do not care.

If political parties continue to ignore such incidents for fear of losing Muslim votes or to appease fanatic Muslims, we shall find ourselves in a scenario where even the military forces are powerless to intervene.

I can’t tell the fleeing Hindus to stay there and fight back since that would be nothing more than a pep talk, nor can I tell them to run away because that would be asking them to sink into oblivion by separating them from their roots. In both the cases, there is a threat to their existence. And who knows it better than me.

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