Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India


Lalla-Ded Educational and Welfare Trust

  Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India

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October-December 2001 issue

Lalla-Ded Educational and Welfare Trust

Table of Contents

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Heading where?

... P.N.Wali

Kashmiri Pandit movement (if it can be called a movement) has gone through several stages since 1990, when KPs were  forced out of their homes in the Valley. First was the immediate concern to mitigate the suffering of those directly involved. Providing food, may be the next meal or shelter - may be a tent was a serious issue. Some could be raised by collective effort or through coercion the government to provide it. The whole energy was directed towards these immediate problems.

 Then came more long range issues, the education of children, placement of displaced employees, semipermanent shelters, quantum of relief etc.  These were  also attended through various means, individual or collective. Immediately after migration, students were not sure whether they could appear in the next examination, but in due course, even reservation came along. Community action was useful to an extent.

 After this, came the larger issues. How and when we can go back? What about security? What about our place in the political and power equation of the state. Existing KP organisations started showing their weakness in handling these issues. New ones came into existence to breathe a new air in our community action. Considering the nature of the problem, solutions were not simple. Vaguer concepts gave place to concrete demands. With the passage of time, people started adjusting to the new environment, howsoever cruel it might have been. Inertia took over. Solutions became more and more distant and vague. The slogan of going back to the Valley invoked more fear than hope. It must be admitted that the KP organisations had real problems in finding a great chasm in individual needs and collective slogans.

 The KP organisations started being used by the government in setting its view point in international fora. The government was doing a very poor job in explaining the Kashmir rationale to the world. KP did the job magnificently. So we could be seen in various meets, seminars etc. around the world. Globe trotting entered the body politic. KP-NRI assumed a role. The government used KP for a limited purpose of international PR and not for designing its own policies vis-a-vis Kashmir, as we would have liked to be.

 The higher visibility of our 'leaders' gave them a sense of power. Even powers that be started courting them. This on its way brought dissensions, break ups, bickering etc. (If artificial power could bring such havoc, how much would the real one do?) In this phase, press statements, appearance on TV and the like became an end in itself. Visibility was the watch word (it may be even by handshake with an enemy).

 From the weariness of above stage came another one - attention to our culture and literature. This is a phase clearly visible these days, if you go to KP centres like Jammu or Delhi. There is stress on reviving old philosophy, attention to language, written and spoken, poetry, drama etc. A large amount of literature has come up. Every second Kashmiri discovers a poet in himself, probably a phase in establishing our identity. Magazines, periodicals, websites etc. are the means. Identity is the need. Danger to lose it after losing our home ground is real. Hence, the need to define it and strengthen it. Institutions are being built. Even when a Yatri Niwas is being built at Durga Nag, Srinagar, the aim is stated to be a link in KP identity. 

 Where do we go from here? Will the antiterrorist onslaught, unleashed after 11th September or 13th December episodes create a new ground of action for us? After many years, the media and governments around, have started calling terrorists by their real name, and not by pseudo-name of militants. Terrorism drew us out of our homes. Will an attack on terrorism bring us back? Does the community have a role in the current turn of events? It will depend on our ingenuity to reach to these events to bring us the desired results. If we are clear about the results desired, I think we have a role.

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