Sri Krishen Kaw
Jammu: Living an exiled life for the last over 33 years, the Kashmiri Pandit community, who left their homes and hearths in the wake of armed insurgency sponsored by our neighboring country in Jammu and Kashmir way back in 1990, has become gradually a neglected lot now. The Government at the Centre, in particular, and the J&K Administration in general, seems to have no interest to settle or rehabilitate the hapless miniscule community despite pinning high hopes in the BJP government, in the near future.
Our neighboring country, Pakistan, sponsored terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir in 1989-90, followed by a mass migration of Kashmiri Pandits, who are aborigines of Kashmir, due to ruthless killings, destruction, and anti-India campaign launched by the terrorists, forcing the miniscule KP community to leave their homes and hearths and take refuge in Jammu and other parts of the country for the sake of their lives, honor, and dignity as the then total state of the system got paralyzed, and a sense of insecurity and fear psychosis prevailed all over as gun-wielding terrorists were on the move in each and every nook and corner of Kashmir.
However, temporary tenements were raised in several parts of Jammu, and with some minor relief on the part of the government in the form of monthly cash assistance and ration given to those families who had no source of income at that point in time, they began to lead an exiled life for decades in parts of Jammu with a tag name as Migrants. Those who had a permanent source of income in the form of a government job or so moved ahead to places like New Delhi and other big and small cities of India for their survival.
As the wheel of time continues to spin without any brake, the elders’ generation began to vanish gradually. The current batch at the time of migration, which suffered the brunt of unemployment and a lack of avenues to earn a livelihood, got crushed into the pair of grinder of unfavorable circumstances of the times. The next generation of Kashmiri Pandits, however, made up their mind to acquire education and moved to look for something good for themselves in and outside the country and explore greater opportunities if any available for them.
It is pertinent to mention here that since the generation of elders by and large disappeared from the scene gradually and the future generation continues to struggle with the circumstances to carve out their better future if they can, the question of survival of the current batch of KP migrants at the time of migration in 1990 remains unanswered because the responsibility of elders and children was simultaneously lying on the shoulders of the same batch. They could neither find any employment due to a lack of avenues nor raise any self-employment due to financial constraints, and had to constantly live a miserable life altogether for one reason or the other until this present day.
Though the state of Jammu and Kashmir remained most of the period under Governors for a longer interval of time right since 1990 as militancy was at its prime stage, yet political dispensations also came into being in the meantime, though for a little while only, which could not deliver as much as expected by the Kashmiri Pandit community. However, high hopes were pinned on the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) when it came into power at the Centre with a thumping majority under the prime ministership of Narendra Modi in the year 2014. But, to much surprise, PM Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, besides other union ministers, visited several times Jammu and Kashmir, yet they never bothered to take stock of burning issues of the Kashmiri Pandit community who were languishing in Jammu camps for the last over three decades or so. Therefore, it clearly indicates that the Kashmiri Pandit migrants are a neglected lot now, and the BJP government at the Centre and now the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir administration is no more interested in settling down this miniscule minority anywhere in the country, not to talk about their motherland, Kashmir.
Why is it that nobody is interested in taking up the issue of this exiled community who were subject to genocide and ethnic cleansing for no fault of theirs? Dr. Sandeep Mawa, a prominent Kashmiri Pandit businessman and eminent social activist, told this reporter that our hopes faded because the Kashmiri Pandit community is not a vote bank, and like other political set-ups, BJP also adopted a policy of ‘use & throw,’ because they used us when they needed us in their manifestos of elections, and they forgot all about us when they are in power. Similarly, our community is so shy and self-respected to the extent that we prefer to keep mum instead of producing a representative who will be vocal about the demands of the community, and if anyone else shows interest in taking up the issue, he/she is not encouraged at the same time, Dr. Mawa opined. Despite all odds, we have determined to launch a struggle for the rehabilitation of our community because our patience cannot be tested anymore by any political set-up as it has been too late now, Dr. Sandeep Mawa further added.