Whenever we talk about Kashmiri Pandits, we are reminded of the infamous exodus of Kashmiri Hindus, when almost half a million Kashmiri Pandits were forcefully evicted from their own land by Islamist forces. It was indeed anti-Hindu pogroms and Kashmiri Pandits were attacked by Muslims, anti-Hindu and pro-Islamic slogans were hurled in valley and Pandits were killed, raped and pushed out of Kashmir Valley.
It seems, it was not enough, as per a survey conducted by Kashmir Pandit Sangharsh Samiti, 399 Kashmiri Pandits were killed by Islamist forces between 1990 to 2011 with 75% of them being killed during the first year of the Kashmiri insurgency. So, that’s an evidence of continuous barrage of injustice, fear and targeted massacre of Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir valley.
There is a misconception, that all Kashmiri Pandits left the Kashmir valley, what if we say that we don’t have some brave souls, who are still living in Kashmir valley, who are still practicing their thousands of years old religion, ethos, and culture. Yes, we do have 808 Kashmiri Pandit families, who are still living in Kashmir valley, who are defying the threats of Islamist terrorists for more than 3 decades now, and who have decided not to leave their land under any sort of suppression.
Yes, we are talking about non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits/Hindus, who refused to migrate out of the Valley at the onset of the insurgency in the 1990s. Since then, they are weathering all sorts of torchers, all kinds of threats, and still holding their fort, keeping the Kashmiri Hindu Asmita alive, they are the ones who still keep their faith in Sanatan Dharma intact. Who still believes that it’s Hindus, who are the custodians of this pious land of Rishi Kashyap and Shankaracharya.
But, do you know, these brave souls have been duped by our Governments for the last many decades. Today, with the help of this article, we will try and raise some genuine issues our Hindu brothers are facing in Kashmir Valley, and we will bring these issues to the forefront so that we can ask our Government to take some steps to help these brave souls, who sacrificed their everything for Dharma. These were the brave souls who dared to celebrate Dussehra in Kashmir valley in 2007, that too amid disturbance in the valley.
Saga of Denial, Neglect and Discrimination
Sanjay Tickoo, President of Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti has explained the ordeal suffered by the Kashmiri Hindus in the last 3 decades. He said that Political parties have swindled the funds meant to provide financial assistance to Kashmiri Migrants. A large number of non-migrant Muslims and Sikhs are registered as migrants and are enjoying Government facilities and doles. Even during PDP-BJP Government, thousands of political foot soldiers in the Valley have registered for cash relief under this category, whereas non-migrant Kashmiri Hindus don’t get such cash relief from any government.
Besides cash relief, the non-migrant KPs who have relocated in distress to district headquarters live in rented accommodation, which is impacting their financial condition up to a great extent. Several appeals and petitions to the Government for allotting accommodation to the small number of non-migrant KPs find no favor.
One of the most important discrimination is about Employment. In 2013 the then UPA government extended benefits of ‘PM Employment Package’ to non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits also. However, some local ‘leaders’ tried to prevent this benefit from reaching these needy people by miring the issue in a legal dispute. After a protracted legal battle, KPSS’ claim was upheld by the Hon’ble High Court in 2016. It is bewildering that ever since the court ruling, their file has gone into a ‘bureaucratic orbit’ which is not yielding any results for them. The KPSS is religiously following-up the case, but it seems the entire administration wants to bury the file deep.
What our non-migrant Kashmiri Hindu brothers want?
They have formed Kashmiri Pandit Sangarash Samiti, which is a kind of umbrella organization for all the non-migrant Kashmiri Hindus in the valley, and they have the following demands.
1) Implementation of Hon’ble High Court directions and recommendations of the Ministry of Home Affairs regarding Jobs to the unemployed educated Kashmiri Pandit/Kashmiri Hindu youths.
2) DMRR&R deliberately delayed the process by more than four years as such give one time age relaxation to all the over-age candidates’ w.e.f. 31.05.2016 (date of the judgment passed by Hon’ble High Court in OWP 1986/2013 titled Kashmiri Pandit Sangarash Samiti and others vs. Union of India and others)
3) Monthly Financial Aid to 808 Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandit –Kashmiri Hindu families living in Kashmir Valley
4) Providing accommodation to all deserving Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandit – Kashmiri Hindu families living in Kashmir Valley as per recommendations of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
5) Extension of benefits of Migrant Welfare Fund to the Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandits – Kashmiri Hindus living in Kashmir Valley.
Well, the demands are very much justified. Kashmiri Hindus are minorities in the valley, and the Government should provide them equal opportunities, as far as jobs, education, financial aid, and moral support are concerned. However, the matter of concern and utter shame is, that consecutive governments have failed our Kashmiri Hindu brothers and they are running from pillars to post to get their rightful dues.
Kashmiri Hindus are running from pillar to post, but no results
This was started when the UPA government announced a package for non-migrant Kashmiri Hindus in 2008, but nothing happened. They approached the High court in 2013, which pronounced its judgment in 2016 and directed the Center and State Government to fulfill their commitment for them, but unfortunately, nothing happened. It is believed that a specific section among the Administrative beaurocracy and Political circle are up and against Kashmiri Hindus, and they don’t want to provide them enough opportunity in the state. Their ultimate objective is to ensure all Kashmiri Hindus left the state asap.
This year also, since June 2020, countless communications have been sent to all the concerned authorities of J&K UT to implement the recommendations of MHA, vide their letter no 12013/6/2014. K.V. dated 4th December 2015, communicating approval for jobs in favor of non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits /Kashmiri Hindu living in the valley and another communication from MHA, vide their letter no.16030/05/2020-JK dated 23rd June 2020, reiterating the same, but nothing happened.
On 27th August 2020, a delegation of KPSS met Hon’ble Luitenant Governor and submitted a detailed memorandum. The Hon’ble L.G. assured the delegation that the demands would be taken up on priority as those related to the very survival of 808 Non-Migrant Kashmir Pandit/ Kashmir Hindu families living in Kashmir valley. But alas, nothing moved in the administration to resolve our demands, forcing the KPSS to undertake the ‘FIRST PHASE of FAST UNTO-DEATH’ on 20/09/2020.
On 30th September 2020, the Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, visited the venue of the fast and handed over a written assurance that the memorandum of demands of the Samiti would be placed before the government for consideration on priority and a meeting with KPSS would be organized post-haste, but again nothing happened thereafter.
On 5th October 2020, a delegation of KPSS met Shri Baseer Khan, Hon’ble Advisor to L.G. in Civil Secretariat, Srinagar. The meeting took place in the presence of the Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar. The Advisor assured that all demands would be considered on priority and a final meeting with KPSS would be organized within a week.
Since then, Kashmiri Hindus are waiting for the final meeting and they haven’t got any further updates. Now from 22nd November, they have started the second phase of their Fast Unto Death.
Kashmiri Hindus are living in an extremely fragile security paradigm and a highly polarised Islamic neighborhood, they have shown tremendous maturity and grit to survive in such a hostile environment. KPSS has come up as a frontal organization which is acting as a torchbearer and brings all community concerns, like usurpation of KP religious assets by the terrorist-land mafia- bureaucrat- politician nexus and another sort of discrimination in the state.
Our government must understand that until and unless the ‘left-over’ KP are taken care of, the so-called rebuilding Bharat in Kashmir would always remain a hollow slogan. The Modi government should act accordingly to address the genuine grievances of these aboriginals for they are the foundation of Kashmir BJP wishes to build.
We know, in the current situation, only Modi Government has the guts and resolve to settle the pending issues. We request the central government to act fast and accord the Kashmiri Hindus their rightful dues, they have suffered a lot, it’s the right time to heal them.