During the last few weeks we are witness to a spate of media reports about a newly floated and unrepresentative clique of Kashmir Pandits hobnobbing with the separatists for a return plan of the exiled community to Kashmir. What an irony that the very people who orchestrated and executed our genocide and ethnic cleansing from the Valley have purchased the souls of a few Pandit deviants, and now claim to be our saviors.
The whole community is bristling with rage that the separatists have even set up a committee in cohort with this selfstyled group to work out a formula for the return of Pandits and that this group has met the Minister of State, Home, and submitted a proposal for the construction of six clusters in six districts of the Valley. It has also engendered deep suspicions in the Pandits about the forces at work behind this exercise which has been unequivocally condemned by their frontline organizations that represent the aspirations and hopes of the community.
Is it that the separatists under pressure on account of various cases against them want an escape route, a bailout, and now present a new face, a charade, of the so called Kashmiriyat? Are the State government (governor) and the Home Ministry at Delhi falling for this separatist bait? Is the Central Government in a hurry to dispose off the uncomfortable problem of exiled Kashmiri Pandits without even consulting their authentic representatives and, in the process, push this community from the Scylla of exile into the Charybdis of Islamic and Jihadi ambience in the valley?
To any sane mind, any such unplanned, slipshod mechanism to transport a whole community like cattle and put them in pens as show pieces, might serve as a feather in the cap of current government, but in reality it will be a gross travesty of redeeming the Pandits from their perpetual travails. How can a community of seven and a half lakh people survive in clusters amid the hostile conditions in what is de facto an exclusivist Muslim state where the cacophony of an extremist ideology is growing louder every day?
Unfortunately Pandits are wrongly perceived as a fractured, disunited, disgruntled, and angry community, at war with itself and therefore not able to present a coherent and unified voice to the rest of the world. But in reality it is not so. We have six to ten-decadeold organizations like ASPKC, Kashmiri Samiti Delhi, KP Sabha, Jammu, etc. with duly contested elections. We have Panun Kashmir in the vanguard of our struggle to reclaim our homeland, and we have the Global Kashmir Pandit Diaspora (GKPD) representing the whole scatter of the community across the globe to which nearly all the other organization are signatory.
How can a bunch of five or six unidentified Pandits work as proxies in cahoots with the separatists be deemed as our representatives? In a memorandum to the Prime Minister of India on 14 September 2018, GKPD has submitted a return plan endorsed by 30 organizations. Amongst other things, it exhorts the government to rehabilitate the whole community in a separate, single concentrated homeland in the valley.
In essence it is a compact and secure rehabilitation of Pandits in what we suggested more than a decade ago viz; a City-State Concept. It is the only tangible and realistic solution that is acceptable to all Kashmiri Pandits who are internally displaced people (IDP). It is in consonance with the recommendations of the UNHC on IDP, viz; that of rehabilitating them in compact and secure environment back in their homeland where they enjoy full political and economic rights. This is very much possible and doable and it does not involve any constitutional amendments, but the will of the State and Central governments. In fact, it is no different from the smart cites that the Modi government has already ushered in different locations in the country.
The concept of a City-State model is one comprising a huge township in the valley, with a full infrastructure for residential and institutional requirements, with schools, colleges, university, Technology Park, industrial units, banking sectors, and tourist, cultural and religious centers and everything required for the growth and development of a community. We are ready to co-opt the services of teams comprising sociologists, demographers, health and education professionals, town planners and entrepreneurs, and experts in security related issues to lend our support to the State and Central Governments to start on this project rather than wasting effort, time and money with the ridiculous clusters of a few apartments here and there. The development of a township needs to be followed by adopting contiguous areas for agriculture, horticulture and forest, in order to accommodate all sections of the exiled community of more than seven hundred thousand Kashmiri Pandits. It is time for the governments at the state and centre to take notice and to reverse the most tragic exodus in modern times in India.
(The write up opinion piece has appeared in Daily Excelsior and reproduced with permission from the author)