The past is never chronicled by the sufferers. In fact, it falls wounded to either a conspiracy of silence or worse still. Orchestrated events are pushed down the innocent reader’s throat while those who actually live the hardship — the characters of the story – are busy looking for a piece of land to either burn or bury their dead or simply find the ground to stand on, that has always been the paradox of history. Therefore, the history of the Kashmiri Pandit Exodus has been no different. Mrs. Urvashi Jagadeesan shared her thoughts on problems faced by Kashmiri Pandits in a conversation with Asian Voice.
- How was the night of 19 January 1990?
It was a terrific night for Kashmiri Pandits. Muslim populace was on the streets crying ‘we will get Pakistan without Pandit infidels but with their women folk’. Indian Electronic media was simultaneously telecasting mass uprising in USSR.
- During Dogra rule more specifically, how was the relationship that Kashmiri Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits shared before India’s Independence?
During Dogra rule, the relation between Hindus and Muslims was by and large very cordial for two reasons viz strict rule of law and Hindus were educated and most of them were Landlords. However, in 1931 at the instigation of NC leaders, there were some anti-Hindu riots.
- The Modi –led Government has promised the return of Pandits to the Valley. Many believe that after the abrogation of Article 370, it is possible, what are your thoughts?
Abrogation of Articles 370 and 35(A) are positive measures by the present Government, however, no substantial measures have been taken which will instill confidence and assure safety for the Pandits to return. Kashmiri Pandits left the Valley because of targeted killings of the community due to utter failure of law and order. The government, till date, has not done anything substantial for the return of Kashmiri Pandits. Previous government under Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh did many things like 6000 jobs for Kashmiri Pandits in Valley, constructed transit accommodations in Valley besides repairing iconic temples like Kheer Bhawani, Tullmulla, and many others.
- Why Kashmiri Pandits can’t return to the Valley?
Kashmiri Pandits who had migrated from Kashmir have settled now mainly in Jammu, Delhi, and other parts of India. The next-Gen educated youth are settled throughout the country and some of them outside the country and in no case, they can be expected to return, as suitable jobs are not available. People who are settled in Jammu and willing to go back have to be assured of their personal safety and their properties. On this issue, nothing concrete has been achieved yet.
- What are the steps taken to preserve and promote the Kashmiri Pandit culture?
Community is doing this at their level. No contributions from Central or State Government.
- Shikara wasn’t a movie but a movement? What are your views on the same?
The insurgency in Kashmir and the intoxication of communal agenda on the youth of Kashmiri Muslims has been well-choreographed strategy by Pakistan. Unemployed youths became easy victims of this propaganda. Successive governments in J & K which were corrupt and inefficient could not fulfill the aspiration of the people. Unfortunately, this film oversimplifies the main cause of the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits and tries to internationalize the issue by suggesting US government’s intervention for settlement.
No doubt, a large section of the Muslims wants peace and prosperity in Kashmir but one has to watch the role of local political parties and kulaks who have their game plan.