Current AffairsIndia

“Wish we were a vote bank”: Kashmiri Pandits

New Delhi: More than a year after the abrogation of Article 370, the Kashmiri Pandit community is in dilemma over their ‘early’ return to the valley.

“We wish we were a vote bank to influence the policy decisions of the government on Kashmir that would have led to our return to our homes”, a disheartened community member told UNI as the citizens and original aborigines of Kashmir completed 31 years of pain and mistrust on Tuesday.

The Pandit community hardly finds itself a vote bank to invite the attention of the policy makers to their plight as their populace is scattered in different parts of the country.

Chased out of their homes three decades ago, the Kashmiri Pandits, whose plight sells like hot cakes in the political firmament, observed the trauma of their exodus by holding meetings at various places across the country and highlighted the plight of community members, particularly those living in camps in the aftermath of their displacement.

Feeling neglected by the government’s ‘hollow’ promises, the Pandits, who now believe they are a forgotten lot, recalled the memories of holocaust, which the community faced in the wake of ongoing militancy that tore apart the fabric of secularism and brotherhood towards the end of the 80’s.

Blaring threats issued from Mosques and slogans ranted the air, asking Pandits “Ralive, Tsaliv ya Galive” meaning either convert to Islam, flee or perish, on the dark night of January 19, 1990. Massive crowds had gathered in mosques with loudspeakers, doling out highly provocative and communal slogans, creating a fear psychosis among the minorities, according to Pandit leaders. As a result, nearly four lakh people fled their homes for safety, with most of them taking refuge in Jammu and Delhi.

Later, organised killings were carried out against Pandits and the scars of mass massacres at Sangrampora, Wandhama, Nandimarg and Chittisinghpura still haunt the minds of the people, as these brutal incidents were deemed as an attack on the ethnicity of Kashmiri Pandits.

Since then, a generation of Pandits grew far from their homeland in different parts of the country, little knowing about their culture and traditions.

The KPs accused political parties of ‘exploiting’ their plight, to their favour as every government in power has been since then promising for the safe return and rehabilitation of the community but is yet to deliver it.

The abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019 was considered as a hammer stroke by the government to solve the decades-old Kashmir crisis, however, now after one and a half year of its revocation, the hope seems to have faded away.

“We still have high hopes from Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” a Pandit leader remarked.

A community organisation – Kashmiri Pandits Reconciliation, Return and Rehabilitation – claimed that the government had not done much to mitigate their sufferings.

“The safeguarding of the aborigines is enshrined in the Constitution of our country. Hence, the government must protect the Kashmiri Pandit community by allocating a certain budget towards this, ” KPRRR Chairman Satish Mahaldar said while speaking to UNI at Jantar Mantar, here, where several community members staged protest demanding rehabilitation of the community.

He urged the Centre to formulate a concrete plan and take steps accordingly, for the safe return and rehabilitation of Pandits in Kashmir.

Mr Mahaldar further said that while exercising the delimitation process, the Kashmir pandits migrants name has to be incorporated to restore denied democratic rights.

Later, the Pandit leaders submitted a memorandum listing demands of Relief & Rehabilitation to Prime Minister Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

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