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Destruction and Injustice
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Destruction and Injustice

The  Tribulations   Of   Kashmiri   Pandits


 

Framework For Justice

Rehabilitation Of Kashmiri Pandits 

Maharaj Kaul  

 

When an entire community is uprooted from its ancient homeland of thousands of years, is forcibly deprived of its homes and hearths, economic and cultural sustenance, and rendered a refugee in its own nation, then the framework of justice of their destruction assumes high ethical and human significance and burden for the country that is formulating and dispensing the justice.

 

Some people may argue what is the need of serving justice now when Kashmiri Pandits (KP’s) have already gone through blood, tears, and humiliation due to Kashmir debacle. The answer is that they continue to suffer mightily and any creative help from Government Of India would be a step in the right direction to mitigate a part of it. KP’s are not asking for charity but they are claiming justice due them. They can survive without GOI’s help, as they have done all along this period of their greatest tribulations in their history. Today GOI can deny them justice, tomorrow it will grow to be a weak, ineffectual, and insensitive government. And weak, ineffectual, and insensitive governments get kicked out these days. 

 

Any justice plan must reckon the magnitude of losses suffered by its claimant. The losses fall in physical and mental realms. The loss of property and jobs in Indian economic world very seriously puts a man’s reasonable survival in doubt. A man just can not survive by making some money, somewhere. There have to be ingredients of honor, challenge, and reward. A government dole does not end a man’s torment of losing an established job with many securities. Losing home, relatives, friends, social and cultural milieu, and ancestral roots has been a devastating experience for KP’s, as if they have gone through one of the major illnesses. The uprootedness can permanently impair a person’s self-confidence and happiness. And raising children to become wholesome and sharp in these conditions is like growing a flower in an arid land -  without the confidence that the results will be satisfactory.  Is there something more devastating to a human being, to a community, than these things?

 

How can GOI provide justice to the ruination that KP’s have suffered due to the decade and a half long and still ongoing war in Kashmir , which to a good extent was created by its own blunders of judgment, lack of scruples, and plain incompetence? If it carries a burden of conscience of a caring and just government then it must try to give a tormented people their due and remove the stain of crass negligence from its face to the maximum extent it is possible.

 

GOI has to compensate KP’s in the areas of jobs, housing, education of children, and community cultural survival. Jobs comparable to what KP’s had in Jammu And Kashmir State have to be provided to them either in government or in private sector. (Which should include their retirement benefits). Because a very strong effort has to be made to keep alive the Kashmiri Pandit culture the government has to  provide jobs for KP’s in three or four cities at the most – they can not be scattered all over India, which is adverse to the survival of a forcibly transplanted community’s culture. Let us say Delhi , Bombay , and Calcutta are viable cities where GOI can find jobs for KP’s. This will give some chance to KP culture to survive as against spreading them, say, in seventeen cities.

 

Shattering of KP culture is the greatest loss KP’s have suffered in the upheaval. Right now there exists a thin veil of hope that eventually all will be well with KP life. Let there be no doubt that the erosion of KP culture engendered by the ongoing war is irreversible if effort is not made to conserve it. KP’s will survive but with the diminishing support of their culture if they are forced to scatter all over India . An individual’s life is nothing without the backdrop of his culture. Culture is the invisible oxygen that makes the engine of life run properly. 

 

Let us also face at the outset of the setting of thought process on justice for KP community from GOI that they can not ask it to take them back to Kashmir . Even if GOI could provide the cessation of militancy there and a full security blanket the KP’s could not live there because of the excruciating pain of the mayhem of the last fourteen years there. You can not live in a place where  many members of your community have been murdered, where many houses of your community have been burnt, where  neighbors looted many houses of your community while their owners were away to save their lives. You can not live in a place where your neighbors and the government hate you. One does not just live physically, a lot of human life is based on mental connections. Living in Kashmir for KP’s right now would be like living in a jail. To consider raising children there at this time would be a leap into insanity. May be in ten years conditions will start changing there and a new generation of KP’s may want to live there, but for us there is no life there.

 

The education of KP children is of paramount importance. If they lose on this end then that may put them at the risk of going through cycles of poverty and underdevelopment. With the ongoing erosion of culture the burden is heavier now on education to carry the ball of self development. GOI has to see that the educational opportunities for KP children are comparable to what they would have had in Kashmir before its downfall. The way KP children could qualify for professional schools in Kashmir has to be continued. KP’s are very sensitive about their education, they count it more than its economic value, it is the enlightenment that it provides that makes them so needful of it.

 

A refugee’s first requirement is housing. Displaced KP’s need decent housing, keeping in mind that back in Kashmir most of them lived in their own houses. Without proper housing the displaced KP’s would have a hard going through the transformation the circumstances have put them through. Already, the hot climate of the Indian planes is a great demotivator for KP’s, the added struggle for the right housing will enfeeble them for the enhanced strife of survival they are in.

 

Beyond the necessary physical amenities of survival KP’s need the framework of their culture to breathe life in their depressed souls. GOI has to provide the means that will encourage the survival of KP culture. This could take the form of making available to KP’s meeting places, funds to organize conventions, publications of perennial Kashmiri literature and religious works. GOI has to work hard to save a culture from suffocation due to its horrendous blunders in Kashmir .

 

All this extraordinary work by GOA would need an establishment of an office in its Home Ministry dedicated to the welfare of KP’s, which includes preservation of their culture. The office may be needed for the next decade. It has to be staffed with people sensitive to the rape of KP’s. This office will also overlook the problems connected with KP’s property and pensions in Kashmir . (KP houses that have lost value at sale due to the war have to be compensated by GOI)

 

Like in the transplantation of a plant a lot of care, patience, and hope has to be invested in the Kashmiri diaspora. Anything less than a large,clever, and a sincere effort is doomed to fail. Many people will say that they do not expect GOI to take such a step. We do not know what GOI will do but we know that it is necessary for it  to take this step if it wants to be an honorable institution. The political leaders at the helm of power at this time have to come to grips with the reality of KP suffering and losses. KP’s counterparts, the Muslims, are faring much better even though they have had a big hand in the breakdown of Kashmir . GOI has to take responsibility of its actions as well as be the protector of a community in its family which has been slaughtered. We do not have a parallel in India of an upheaval of a community at such a large scale that KP community has experienced. When a part of a body is wounded it affects the whole body. If Indian nation ignores the plight of Kashmiris it will allow a weakness to take root in its fabric. Vision and courage on part of GOI today will reinforce its vitality to face the multitudinous social and economic problems it is beset with. 

 

Having chosen to be soft with Kashmiri Muslims with the hope of settling Kashmir Problem faster GOI has stuck a knife in the back of KP’s. It has victimized and alienated them badly. Making a mockery of their forced exodus from their homeland of thousands of years GOI chose to call them migrants. (Migrants move on their volition, while refugees are forced to move)

 

GOI has the power to give KP’s the transitional protection they need to replant themselves and their culture. If victims of natural disasters deserve full rehabilitation so should the victims of the political disasters. It is pity that two of the big weapons in a democracy, political opposition parties to ruling political party and press, sit with negligent disinterest when it comes to Kashmir Problem. It is incredible that GOI is not taken to task for it blunders and lack of will to make some significant inroads in it. The amount of money it spends on Kashmir without achieving significant results is money lost to other crucial problems the nation is facing. Pakistan has exploited to full hilt India ’s weak leadership and lack of effective strategy in Kashmir Problem.

 

KP’s deserve justice from United Nations regardless of the technicalities of the definition of a refugee and whatever Indian laws might appear to say about it. If GOI can not help KP’s because of its soft political posture toward Kashmiri Muslims – what a perverse posture it is – let it not hinder international organizations from helping them. The world in general has worn a negligent disinterest in the plight of KP’s because of GOI’s villainous role and because of the cruel apathy of the media. Also, KP’s legendary lethargy and cynicism has put an iron cast over their cause. KP’s Indian brethren have also turned an insensitive and dismissive face to their crisis. The world is indifferent to the KP upheaval but their suffering is immense, the world is unsure of the causes of their catastrophe but horrendous injustice has been committed toward them.

 

KP ethos is in the process of direct disintegration, unless KP’s shore it up with imagination and diligence. GOI and world communities’ help in this decomposition is needed but if they continue to chose being negligent the consequential loss of being an insensitive and unmindful government and world community is theirs.  

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