By K.N. Pandit
The issue of Pandit return to the valley is intermittently raised in various quarters. J&K chief minister touched on the issue in and outside the legislative assembly, perhaps with more passion than any of her predecessors in office.
New Delhi’s policy on this issue is as vague as it has been so far. For them it is not of any extraordinary political significance as to exert pressure on State leadership.
Kashmir majority population has already turned down any formula of their rehabilitation; the one they are reconciled to is return of the native to his original home in original town or village. It is a subtle way of saying surrender to us and forget that you have individuality.
As of now, radicalized Kashmir has more confidence and strength to stand by its opposition to Pandit return.
Pandits should come out of hazy view of return. We need to understand the flow of time. ISIS’ recent attacks in Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia are an eye-opener.
Kashmir Muslims are fast pandering to the Caliphate dream than to Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Have the Pandits space in such a radicalized Kashmir?
If Indian State could not protect Pandits when there was no ISIS, Wahhabism, Salafism and jihadism, how can it protect them when all these “isms” have converged on one objective — the Islamic Caliphate?
Pandits should also keep in mind the ambivalence of European powers vis-à-vis Islamism, especially countries like Germany where the Chancellor says Islam belongs to Germany.
Pandits know the ambivalence of Obama in this regard. In the G-20 meet in Turkey this year, where Modi gave call to the world community to unite against the challenge of religion-based terrorism, Obama just smiled and looked the other way.
India’s turn has not come as yet notwithstanding Mumbai and other attacks. The agenda for al-Hind (India) is long back set forth in the histories of Islamic Tradition (hadith) in the shape of ‘ghazavatu’l-Hind’ meaning “the Indian Campaign” and the final battle in Khurasan. Politically and tactically, Islamism is on very sound footing in India with rabid supporters in political organizations and sections of media. Money works with Indians.
I will not tell Pandits to discard nostalgia about Kashmir. However, I will tell them to be pragmatic and read the writing on the wall and know they have a tryst with history. Human history is replete with the rise and fall of societies. We could not have survived in Kashmir even if we had not left.
This is a small community of educated people. It is so miniscule that its existence will always be a big question in the background of rising crescendo of regionalism, parochialism, casteism etc. in this country.
Three centuries ago, when Europe came under economic strain and social deprivation, hundreds of thousands migrated to the New World. The diaspora made the world’s strongest and richest state.
We left Kashmir and our journey for coming generations began. There is no looking back for us. We need to open our wings and explore new climes. In the process we will get dissolved in the wider milieu of international societies; we cannot stop it.
But whatever small group of the Pandits survives the vicissitudes of time and vagaries of human nature will make a historic Diaspora. We have community members in almost all developed and free countries of the world. I would make an appeal to them to take historic decision of pulling their community members out of oblivion. To our community members I will say I wish our deities, goddesses, shrines, caves and temples were strong enough to ensure no exodus from our ten thousand years old homeland. They were not and we are out.
(The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University. Knp627@gmail.com)