Kashmiri Pandit’s today are struggling on various fronts. As always, they are trying to bring an acceptable level of normalcy in their community but with disparate voices. A strong community leadership historically has never emerged in their midst, even in adversity, which have visited them often.
Their political stand has always been vague and generally overpowered by individual ambitions of their so called leaders. The problem of “weak followership” adds immensely to their plight of looking rudderless as a community. Their inherent disdain for developing community traits and their belief that they can manage their life individually creates a lot of social problems for them.
They have a unique experience of having managed fairly well in the past as a Hindu minority in a Muslim majority state (now UT). Migration was a popular trait to seek greener pastures to feed their career ambitions. The forced one in 1990 has destabilized them with no help from expected quarters. Their Brahminic legacy could also be adding to their woes on account of misplaced superiority complex.
Historical adversities too ,have contributed to their problems. While a great number of them seemingly have always overcome them as Individuals, there are certain groups who would avoid migrating for good reason. They would eventually become a symbol of furthering their cause of retaining their identity in J&K. This aspect is also coming under cloud today. While one can easily pin this on separatist agendas and apathy by so called mainstream political parties in Kashmir, we have always avoided tougher choices as a community.
The most vulnerable groups today are the ones in “camps in Jammu and Delhi “and the one’s who have taken the “leap of faith to return to their motherland “.There plight is worsened both by their inability to strongly voice their concerns in the right political quarters and meddling by selfish so called KP leaders.
As explained above, the non existence of a sincere leadership and poor followership has stood out as the main issues. We were less or openly committed to any particular political party in the past as we were aware of their availability was not ensured when we needed them.
We were happily committed to Kashmiriyat as it provided a broad cover to our minority status.
1990 crisis has changed all that .When the crisis started abating , new generation started revisiting their traditional positions in the political space. Come 2014, while we still were nursing our wounds, new hopes started taking root amongst our community. Sadly, the opportunities were pilfered by our leaders individual approach to a community issue. No common stand as a community emerged in all these painful years.
The advent of BJP with a strong Hindutva traits came to stay. It perhaps cashed on our newly acquired bias against our Muslim brothers and sisters. They could not understand that this was not a change of heart but a desire for revenge and identity crisis on account of the adversity visiting us in 1990. Many in our scant leadership started finding solace in handing over the plight of our community to them for a fair resolution. This symbolized in change of our nomenclature, which changed from Kashmiri Pandit to Kashmiri Hindu. We were always Hindus by default. We adopted Kashmiri Pandit as our identity, a name given by Akbar as the legend goes. It fitted very well with our secular credentials and need to make our nestles in a safe social environment of Kashmiriyat back then.
It might surprise some people not familiar with J&K, and there are plenty in this country, that as far as our political credentials go, KP’s were part of struggle of Muslims when they were wanting to throw the yoke of Dogra rulership, some of them were also looking at seriously on the notion of Independent Kashmir in 1947 if not earlier. On the Social and Cultural front, they were driving the Kashmiri identity which was getting into shape after independence. Historically, as a major literate section of the society, they were part of the administration in good measure.
As the Muslims, who formed the majority, came on the scene with equally competing credentials, KP’s were deeply enmeshed in post Independence reconstruction of J&K. It was only after the 1990 (30 years) crisis that we have physically parted with the Muslims but retain all the social and Cultural links with Muslims (evolved for 43 years). We were keeping ourselves equidistant from mainstream political parties INC, NC, PDP, etc., in all these years till our exodus as a tradition.
Looking back now, we are a case of people, with no conviction on account of perpetual adversity of one kind or the other. Today the crisis persists especially for the two groups mentioned above. There has been no improvement on the relief initiated by the then government in power- INC (except forinflationary additions). The estimate of numbers falling in these two groups cannot exceed a lac. The tragic circumstance of our dispersion, driving us into political irrelevance adds to our discomfiture.
There is now green shoots emerging of a strong urge in the Community to return back and has started to review their position. These new activists are wary of the existing leadership. These activists are laden with leadership qualities, with a sincere and pragmatic outlook. These are the ones who want to return to motherland on their terms by engaging in the life proper with all stakeholders of J&K. It surly has jolted the listless leaders of the past. They too have been forced to review their positions in this changed circumstance.
National and Local parties too are eyeing the vocal ones from our community. This is perhaps the opportunity, coming our way, a last time to reset our options if we want to assert as a community. Missteps by BJP (covertly) by picking up some self professed leaders representing our community can also be seen. As a recent media debate has thrown up. Very intemperate and down right rude towards their own community was in display by a so-called intellectual from Panun Kashmir group calling two Jagati Camp activists as “gutter ke kide” etc., when questioned about, what BJP has done or is planning to set right the lives of these groups. BJP should be wary of such people who cannot be loyal and fair to their own community fellas, how can they represent BJP agenda or for that matter a national cause?
This is an appeal to other community members especially the people who think they have acquired the tag of “First floor Kashmiri Pandits” even after late 1980’s to review their position with regard to their fellow citizens from the community.
There cannot be anything as apt for this situation in her community as on date, what Lalded said in one of her VAAKHS…
Kyaah kara paantsan dahan ta kaahan,
Vakhshun yath leyji yim karith gay;
Saoriy samahan yeythi razi lamahan,
Ada kyaazi raavhe kaahan gaav