19th January- Solidarity Day, is 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 27 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 even in the present 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 individual efforts. The critical ones in my opinion are:

  1. We seek an institutional, inter-ministerial mechanism to coordinate with the Kashmiri Pandit representatives for the effective implementation of the demands and to deal with any other exigencies or contingent situations. Consider setting up of –
    1. Constitutional arrangements for the return and rehabilitation of all seven hundred thousand Displaced Kashmiri Pandits in a separate, single, concentrated Homeland carved out in the Valley of Kashmir.
    2. The Constitution of India along with all associated laws and provisions be allowed to flow freely in the newly created geo-political territory without the shackles of Article 370 or Article 35A. 3.
    3. An immediate appropriate authority, vested with powers flowing directly from the Centre, to urgently implement suitable measures for protecting the millennia-old social, cultural and religious legacy of Kashmiri Pandits, which otherwise is fast facing obliteration at the hands of a radicalized mindset.
  2. Truth & Reconciliation: Recognition of the exodus and ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits as Genocide. Setting up a high-power Tribunal with constitutional authority to establish which causal factors were responsible for the Genocide of Kashmiri Pandits and bring the perpetrators to justice. 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.
  3. Resettlement of Migrants -both Economic as well as Cultural:
    1. Making available to the Displaced Kashmiri Pandits all benefits, relief and socio economic, civil and political rights as laid down in the international covenants of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) uprooted from their Homeland due to religious and sectarian violence in accordance with UN norms.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. The other group is the one who have moved out of the valley on their own and would like to return to their Motherland in peace and dignity.
  4. IDP Status: According recognition to the internally displaced Kashmiri Pandit community as a legitimate stakeholder in the final solution to the current imbroglio.
  5. Revival and Upgradation of the proposed State Temple and Shrine bill based on community guidance. 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. The state can support it by passing these to the rightful owners -KP’s, under a statute by reviving & passing the bill.
  6. Minority Status for KP’s as aborigines of J&K State
    1. 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.
    2. It is time we supported actions already initiated by some dedicated individuals in this direction.
  7. Political Representation as a minority
    1. In the long term ,we should fight for political representation in the valley .In view of our dispersion, even within the  valley in the past ,we could not assert any meaningful voting rights for our community. The delimitation of constituency would ensure that we do not have any vote bank strength to force our issues.
    2. When voting rights for NRI’s is visualized, why not for dispersed diaspora of KP’s.
  8. Script for Kashmiri Language
    1. One of the major fallouts of the exile is dispersion. We find ourselves lost in so far as our Culture is concerned…preservation of our mother tongue (Language ) is thus a important issue
    2. Kashmiri speaking community activists should focus sincerely on preserving the corpus of our literature, liturgical fund and future writings in the scripts of our choice.
    3. Muslims can go ahead and focus on Perso-Arabic script and use the existing agencies to promote our language and its corpus of literature.
    4. Kashmiri Pandits should go ahead and use any or all of the scripts including Perso-Arabic which will support to preserve our language and also help us preserve our Cultural and pass it on to gen-next. 
    5. We have a lot of Kashmiri Pandits who have a considerable contribution in the existing corpus of Kashmiri literature in Perso-Arabic script. I would like that this, as well as that of Muslim writers   be translated in other scripts under consideration for wider readership and also for preserving it for gen-next.
    6. It will be a loss to all of us, if we build walls and not bridges, to harness all writings in Kashmiri irrespective of which religion the writers belong to. It is our common cultural heritage that we should focus on instead of cribbing about a common script.
    7. We should channelize our energies for a Synchronic Digraphia i.e., the coexistence of two or more writing systems for the same language. False narratives that MHRD is going for a Diachronic Digraphia i.e., the replacement of one writing system by another for a particular language should be avoided and resisted by both communities.

Note: This list is to facilitate a community vide discussion to arrive at a consensus.

Ashok Dullu

 Sept. 2018