KP CONUNDRUM* : Memories and Dreams

Memories take you back . Dreams take you forward


When you search the past history of Kashmiri Pandits  , what strikes you most is that the adage “ History repeats itself” fits like a tee to our status at any given point in time.

While it is normal for migrations in communities, seven of ours have been  inflexion points in our  history. The last one in 1989-90 in Independent India is most revealing. It has shown us our place, which is neither here nor there.

Kashmiri Pandits are unique in a way as we come from a genuinely Hindu origin  dating back to 2448 BCE as per ‘Rajtarangani’. We had Hindu rulers who were good , bad & ugly. We are an example in letting Islam penetrate in our life by a soft entry followed by Sword when foundations were laid.  Although Islam had been making inroads in India from 726 AD, it was only the dynastic rule which got established in 1175 that we saw the force behind its proselytization. Bulbul shah can be named as a progenitor of Islam in Kashmir ,while the force behind it came by default when King Suhadev (1301-1320) ,the last Hindu ruler, a  weak  king gave access to Shahmir, Rinchan & Lankar Chak, which is the beginning of Islamization in Kashmir by  Word & Sword  both in 1339 & afterwards. Those who dared to stay back as Hindus have experienced all that is written about Hindu -Muslim co-existence in India from pre to post Independence.

We had Hindus who readily got converted  to Islam & true to the axiom ,transformed  themselves as more Muslim than the invading settlers from abroad. The Islam which was  practiced in Kashmir was of Sufi variety till early eighties. The more orthodox Muslims outside Kashmir , would look down upon the Islamic practices followed by Muslims of Kashmir.  

We also  experienced Colonial rule as a princely state. We were also an independent nation – doesn’t matter, if it lasted only a few days. Idea of Kashmir as a Nation was, thought of , propagated, but lost its meaning due to Global rise of fundamentalist Islam .At the same time ,all that was happening in the world was brought to life by advancement of communication technology. It  played a great role in bringing it to our door step. ”Kangris “ had to give way to Kalashnikovs ,aided by Russian withdrawal of Afghanistan .

Before the exodus ,we were living  a life inspite of “permanent provocation” as Hindu Minority in  a Muslim state in predominantly Hindu majority Nation. As per Ananda Abesekaye, a Sri Lankan scholar , who has written about such issues in South East Asia ,this problem could  fall in the category of “Aporias”- situations that have no clear resolution in near future .He  also mentions, what he terms as “permanent provocation”, being a factor in many ethnic and religious conflicts.  

We  have all faced the problems as minorities  .We have also faced the problems which arise in difficult times of communal flare-ups in communities. The way mainstream Indian Polity looked at us as a community was strange. Our rights as minority Hindus were of least concern to them. Gandhi, Nehru et all thought of us as a dispensable or perhaps of no importance to their larger scheme of things. The fact that we were  from a genuine Hindu stock of Brahaminic variety , though different in many ways, never made  us realize the importance of behaving as a monolithic community. We always led our lives as strong individuals  .This trait has no doubt helped us in difficult times but has debilitated us by not achieving any modicum of unity as a community. We were perhaps following existentialist’s creed – “ existence before essence” way before it became an accepted philosophy.

We start digging our past history when we find paucity of answers to our circumstances of present. We tend to seek answers from our past. So the importance of the past of our community is very important for our future. What has preserved us so far is an important element of our culture - Individuality .

Do we need to be preserve this trait for future ? Or do we need to develop Community feeling as a social trait to support preservation.

Intersectionality tells us that there is no one singular issue for Kashmiri Pandits in forced exile that can trigger any support from the state or center, because of the way politics works in conjunction with vote banks, dispersion of the community, lack of a sincere leadership within the community , appeasement of majority in J&K .

Our social identities intersect in ways that shape how we perceive the world, and how the world perceives us.

The Concept of intersectionality was coined by legal scholar Kimberle Crenshaw. Before then, many people viewed social identity as a single distinct quality. Intersectionality is the theory that every individual has multiple social identities that intersect.

The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

It is understood that "through an awareness of intersectionality, we can better acknowledge and ground the differences among us".

We remain a  Cultural Hybrid as a community with fascinating complexities and depths of sophistication, as defined by Henny Sanders .



19th January- Solidarity Day, is remembered as the  day of holocaust for all Kashmiri Hindus; for it was on this day in 1990 the campaign of genocide of the Hindus in the state of Jammu and Kashmir was publicly proclaimed by the Muslim fundamentalists.

While there were many provocations in the past but the tipping point for our exodus can be summarized in the words of Rahul Pandita a well known community Author and Activist ….” The voices that addressed us from mosques all over Kashmir Valley on the night of January 19, 27 years ago, were not meant to liberate us from fear; they were meant to engulf us into fear so dense, so searing, that we would flee our homes from the next morning onwards.”

The night of January 19, 1990 was a cold, winter night. All was not well in Kashmir. But we were hopeful; we thought it was a temporary phase; we thought it will pass. We were inside our homes. But hundreds of thousands of people were out, most of them in mosques.

At 10pm, it began. Not in one street, not in one locality, not in one district; it began in the entire Valley, from north to south, east to west. Now remember: this is 1990. There are no cellphones. There is no Facebook or Twitter. Even the landline density is minimal. But it is all so well planned, and the Kashmiri Pandits have no clue; the Indian State has no clue – it is paralyzed, it is on its knees. At 10pm, people are out on the streets. They are shouting for our blood. In mosques, they are asking for our annihilation. They shout:

1. "Battan hund byol, Khodayan gol" (The seed of the Pandits has been destroyed by Allah).

2. "Assi gacchi panunuy Pakistan, Batav rostuy, Batanein saan" (We want our Pakistan, without Pandit men, but with their women).

3. "Dil mein rakho Allah ka khauf, haath mein rakho Kalashnikov" (In your heart keep the fear of Allah, and in your hands: Kalashnikov).

4. "Yahan kya chalega, Nizam-e-Mustafa" (What will run here? The rule of Mustafa).

5. "Naara-e-taqbeer: Allah ho Akbar".

Imagine our plight! Imagine what ran through our minds! Imagine the fear on our faces, the sweat on our brows; imagine our heartbeat! We have nowhere to go, nobody to protect us. Some of us who have telephones are making frantic calls: to ministers, to police officers, to Union home secretary. But nobody comes to our rescue. We pass that night, somehow. Next morning, we prepare to leave…..”


What is the Way Forward?

The community should stand in solidarity for the cause of bringing relief to those who have not yet settled down in peace and also chalk out a course for future. We need to address the issues agonizing our community for the last 28 years. No one can take away from us ,the strong and proven ability to excel as individuals under all odds. We as a community have not been able to project ourselves as a united force inspite of  adversities, current and past.

We should keep up the efforts in this direction as always in spite of cynics running us down .We also need to go away from “Dole Mentality “ to avoid mixing serious issues with mundane ones. Community action can only materialize when we learn to be supporting the cause as followers and not commentators & leaders with unclear agenda.

Issues are many which need Community Action and not only individual efforts.

The critical ones in my opinion are:

  1. Truth & Reconciliation of the Holocaust:
    • This is expected to bring a closure to our plight as victims . It is also important as this will and has passed on to our gen-next .It is important to allow them to go forth without victimhood which has engulfed us in absence of a sense of justice.
  2. Resettlement of Migrants  -both Economic as well as Cultural
    • Those who chose willingly or otherwise to settle down in Kashmir are a great asset to our community . These are the ones for whom the resettlement is critical. Also remember that KP’s have survived as a community only because of those who could choose to live back in the valley. They are our link to our roots. Serious community action needs to be put in place to safeguard their interests.
    • Many of our migrant families have not been able to settle down in a meaningful way outside the valley. This is another group for whom the community action is required.
  3. Save our Temples and Shrines in Kashmir
    • Passing of Temples and Shrines Bill in J&K Assembly.
    • Of the 975 Temples and 428 shrines ,347 stand destroyed or vandalized. Religious beliefs is a critical cultural marker of our community.  Return to our roots shall not become a reality unless these revered places are restored and preserved . It needs a concerted community action . The state can support it by passing these to the rightful owners -KP’s under a statute by reviving & passing the bill.
  4. Minority Status for KP’s as aborigines of J&K State
    • As a long term measure to safeguard the aborigines of the valley, we must fight for minority rights. The Nation should support this initiative in spite of the convention not allowing this to be taken on a community basis.
    • It is time we supported actions already initiated by some dedicated individuals in this direction.
  5. Political Representation as a minority
    • In the long term ,we should fight for political representation in the valley .In view of our dispersion in the valley in the past ,we could not assert any meaningful rights. The delimitation of constituency would ensure that we do not have any vote bank strength to force our issues.
    • When voting rights for NRI’s is visualized, why not for dispersed diaspora of KP’s.
  6. Declaring Kashmiri Hindus outside the state as IDP’s
    • We are by any international definitions a community which needs to be declared as IDP.GOI should shed the hesitancy and face the reality.
  7. Carving out a state specifically for KP’s within the valley-Panun Kashmir
    • This could be pursued as an ultimate goal with all above fail to materialize.

This list is open to discussion and debate by Community Action Groups.


*CONUNDRUM :a question or problem having only a conjectural answer……


Ashok Dullu

Dec. 2018