Some irresponsible Kashmiri Pandits

‘How painful it is to hear a fellow Kashmiri Pandit carelessly brushing away any discussions about Kashmir, whilst making such irresponsible sweeping statements as, “Why should we discuss Kashmir, we don’t live there anymore? … There is no chance my children or I are going to live there, so why do I care? … They ousted us from our home, so I hate Kashmir and all people there …We suffered so much discrimination and prejudice against us when we lived there but look at the progress we have made since our exodus!

Not only are such statements without much thought, they are toxic, extremely painful and provocative for any Kashmiri who cares for our motherland, Maej Kasheer! Such irresponsible and selfish statements are simply abhorrent and detestable. Are our social, ethical and moral values only connected with our materialistic desires, objectives and outcomes? Does Kashmir become important only if we are able to physically live there? Do people, places and things assume importance only if and when we are able to use them? How can one be so unwise and selfish? How can one speak on behalf of whole of the displaced Kashmiri Pandit community and profess we should stop thinking and caring about Kashmir? Do we know how many Pandits crave and work very hard to return, or create opportunities for others to return, to their motherland? How can we take away the birthright of our children, and their future generations, to return to the land of their ancestors, by harbouring such selfish and myopic thoughts?

Citizenship is not about the individuals; it is about the common and collective good of all members of the community. Citizenship requires one to transcend one’s likes or dislikes for the sake of the community. Kashmir is much beyond our hedonic needs. Kashmir is the geographical and spiritual head of India. Kashmir is our mother!

I may not be able to speak for all members of my Global Kashmiri Pandit community but, to me, the land of Kashmir remains my motherland, my Maej Kasheer, where I was born and where all my ancestors were born. Kashmir is sacred to me because:

  • She witnessed, over the past nearly seven centuries or so (since the 14th century), a steely resolve, numerous hardships, deep convictions, struggles, tenacity and resilience of my ancestors and their honest and conscious endeavours to keep their Kashmiri Pandit identity intact. I must respect and uphold their unrelenting endeavours and never discredit them by doing or thinking anything contrary to what they endeared, endured and stood for;
  • Guru Teg Bahadur, the 9th Sikh Guru, offered supreme sacrifice for Kashmiri Pandits when he was beheaded by the then Mughal king of India in exchange to their freedom from religious persecution; and
  • She contains the mortal remains of my ancestors.

As a tragic historical event, most Kashmiri Pandits were left with no choice but to leave their motherland in January 1990, and thereafter, for a number of reasons, which include:

  • The failure of the central Government of India;
  • The failure of state Government of Jammu & Kashmir;
  • The failure of law and order in the state of Jammu & Kashmir; and
  • Inability of Kashmir Muslims – neighbours, friends and colleagues – to instill confidence and a sense of security in their Pandit brethren community at a time when hundreds of members of the Kashmiri Pandit community were deliberately targeted / killed by the militants – both foreign and local, as part of an ill-conceived scare campaign that was scripted, produced and directed across the LoC. It is true many Kashmiri Muslims were also targeted for being perceived to have pro-India feelings, inclinations and / or leanings. But for such violence, the recent history of Kashmir would undoubtedly have been different!

My memoir, 22 years – a Kashmir story (2017), documents my painful exit from the valley in December 1989, as well as my personal struggles between 1988 and 1994, whilst also illustrating my emotional roller-coaster – a transition from my mental states of extreme fear / anger / frustration into compassion /empathy. I fell in love with my motherland again, immediately upon my brief return to the valley in April 2012.

It is not important if I live permanently in Kashmir or not; what is important is that I remain connected with my motherland – spiritually, culturally and physically, as practically possible, till I die. Till my last breath, I shall not stop dreaming and making positive endeavours for the return of peace and prosperity to my motherland. As per a public will in my book, Issues White-anting India (2017), when I die – in another month or in 50 years – I hope my ashes are brought to Kashmir and scattered amongst the deodar tress on the grassy slopes of Pahalgam. Simply, I want to return to where I came from!

There is no doubt that both Kashmiri communities have suffered immensely during the past three decades or so – physically, the tragic loss of numerous lives – both young and old, permanent dislocation(s), loss of assets and income, and irreparable mental agony and disease. Undoubtedly, the prime causes of their respective sufferings do differ to a reasonable extent but now, after these three decades or so, it is true both communities have truly suffered to a significant extent, both also facing a potential existential threat in the process. It is that suffering, and their respective disillusionment, together with their common Kashmiri roots and their unique culture, which must bring them proactively back together to weave a new social tapestry, turn on a new peaceful leaf in the book of Kashmir’s history and help their Maej Kasheer regain her health.

The years of 1989/1990 can’t be brought back and retrospectively fixed, but years 2018/2019 are here and now. Let us be wise enough to help ourselves, now that we have realised that no government(s) will ever help us! Similar to their Kashmiri Muslim brethren, Kashmiri Pandits have also suffered from a strong disillusion, albeit of a different kind. But the past three decades have removed many veils of their disillusion; and the reality is standing stark in front of them, which take eyes and a clarity of thought to see.

Finally, it is important to reiterate that it does not matter if we love or hate Kashmir, or if we are able to live there or not; what is more important is that we, as Kashmiris, must remain connected with our Maej Kasheer – spiritually, socially and culturally, wherever we are located globally, and work coherently together to bring our motherland back into the pink of her health, prosperity and lost glory, without any mutual distrust, hate or animosity – for Kashmir and Kashmir alone.”

9 thoughts on “Some irresponsible Kashmiri Pandits

  1. I will not blame our new generations who may not even like to hear the name of Kashmir. But we, the middle-level people or parents, are squarely responsible and are to be blamed because we fail to convince our young generations about the importance of sticking to our roots.

    1. Dear Surinder ji, namaskar. Thank you for your feedback. I do agree with you. The onus lies well and truly on people like us – to properly mentor, guide, educate and nurture our younger generations. We must inculcate proper / noble values in them. But if we fall short in our role and delivering our responsibilities, we can’t blame them. Let us wake up and do our bit wherever we are! Regards

  2. Dear Brother Namaskar Mahara. Dated
    11.11.2018. I am Satish kumar pandita By profession I am a teacher. Dear brother, first of all I want to know why you remained silent for the last last 28 years and now you feel that Kashmir is our birth place and future of our community. Dear brother, you have sold your whole property for tiny amount. You sold and received different types of benefits from Government of India and from Government of J & K, and also from different sources and NGOs of the world. Government of India sanctions so many employment packages. Now talk about those Kashmiri Pandit families who did not migrate from the valley during the turmoil period and whose condition is miserable.Those Kashmiri Pandit families keep India alive by sacrificing their lives for protecting and keeping their motherland alive, by facing so many tough times and hardships. But shame for the Government of J & K, and the leaders who run India for the last 30 years and also all the world organisations and NGOs and, particularly, the leaders who became the heros before the above mentioned governments and different world organisations and NGOs. No one thinks about the miserable condition of Kashmiri non-migrant Pandit families; there is nothing for we people, no employment package, no housing package and not any financial package was given to the non-migrants of Kashmiri Pandit families till date. Because the government of J & K state does not want to see any Hindu family in Kashmir. All the leaders of India are choor. They are busy in looting the valuable assets of our country. They are not meant for people. Dear brother, if you really want to protect your motherland, come and live in Kashmir, shun all government benefits, and save your future generations. I know it is impossible for you to do so. Now you are residing in London and you remember your future generations. If you really want to protect your motherland and future generations, then talk to the top leaders of India about the miserable condition of those who really protect the motherland and the future of the coming generations. Gbu Sir

    1. My dear Pandita sahib, namaskar. I am very thankful to you for your valuable feedback. I salute your commitment to Kashmir and wholeheartedly respect your sentiments. I promise that I’ll convey your message to the relevant stakeholders as and when I get an opportunity. Undoubtedly, it is due to the sacrifices of people like you that Kashmiriyat is alive. Thank you, Sir,once again. You are truly a Kashmiri. I also agree that Government of India must value and acknowledge your commitment and the commitment of all Kashmiris – both Pandits and Muslims – who are committed to Kashmir. As for me, I left Kashmir in December 1989, when I was about 27 year old, a month before the mass exodus. The turmoil in Kashmir in 1988-1989 made me fear for my life. My parents did not leave with me; they did not believe anything was seriously wrong in Kashmir at that time. Like you, I was also a teacher at Regional Engineering College, Srinagar. Please read my personal story in my first book (22 Years – a Kashmir Story), which will provide you with my history, and that of my family. My grandfather, Pt Shamboo Nath Koul (Ladakhi), was an eminent teacher of Mathematics and English, a true educationist (retired Headmaster). My father, Sh Jawahar Lal Koul, served the state till his retirement as Chief Engineer PWD Kashmir in Dec 2002. I left India in early 1995. Between 1990 and 1995, I worked at camp classes of REC Srinagar at Jammu and helped many Kashmiri and Jammu students graduate from that campus. Please read my book, 22 Years – a Kashmir Story; it is available everywhere, in Kashmir also.

      Dear Pandita sahib, with due respects to you, I wish to confirm that both you and I have suffered immensely due to the Kashmir turmoil, but in different ways. It is not humanly possible to rate who has suffered more, you or I. You must have undoubtedly suffered but, thanks to your grit and determination, you stayed put in your home all these years. Unfortunately, I lost my home, as I feared for my life and left before the mass exodus. Perhaps, you may not realise the depth of pain of losing one’s mother, one’s home. I did not leave Kashmir happily, and for enjoying a holiday outside. Life was never easy after Kashmir. It takes a long time for an uprooted tree to grow again. I did not sleep well for many years and still the pain of losing my home sickens and haunts me. It took a long time for me to grow my roots before I started flowering again, albeit after a considerable delay. Only a wearer knows where the shoe pinches!

      Furthermore, please appreciate that even after all these years of living outside Kashmir, I am committing myself to help my motherland and my Kashmiri brethren, without any selfish interest, whereas many of our community members may not even be bothered, which alarms me and that is why I wrote this blog in the first place. Do I, therefore, deserve to be punished for showing my concern for Kashmir, albeit after 28 years only? Let us now move ahead and think positively for Kashmir!

      Lastly, I can assure you that I have never ever taken any migrant salary or any financial assistance or benefit from any government or any organisation. After leaving India, I have worked very hard to reclaim my life. Now I feel that I must do my bit for my Kashmiri community and Kashmir. Better late than never! I have no personal agenda in doing so. And I am not living in London. Please stay in touch with me and, God willing, we shall meet someday in Kashmir. Namaskar and best regards.

  3. A clear view point without any politics and fear. But those living in India cannot follow this view or opinion as we have to worry or bother about the bread and butter of lot many well wishers of the community and their interest in the state. The well wishers of the community are day by day mushrooming like fresh vegetables and no chance of squeezing them for its effectiveness. A Kashmir card leads to the development of many migrants by political means or otherwise. Thanks to the wisdom.of our wise leaders.

    1. Dear Kaul sahib, namaskar. Thank you for your valuable feedback. A time has come when we all Kashmiris must transcend our individual weaknesses and selfish interests, and harness our individual strengths to make this world a better place. Let each one of us do her / his bit to save our motherland. Kashmir is very important for India’s integrity and health, and vice versa. Kashmir is the spiritual and geographical head of India. The situation in Kashmir will only worsen if we continue to adopt unwise / imprudent / selfish / individualistic / myopic approach to addressing her issues. Let us not kill the goose that can lay the golden eggs for Kashmiris and all stakeholders. For a peaceful Kashmir, we all must work sincerely and honestly, and with our heart. Kashmir does not deserve any more politics or hate or fear! Regards

  4. Opportunists take advantage of ignorant audiences . Thank God it is because of you and others now people are aware of the ground situation .

    1. Thank you, Ashwani Ji, for your awareness and support. You have rendered the best part of your life in the active service of your country and I feel proud of you and other soldiers who have served the country.It is now the time for me and likes of me to also do our bit for her. Regards

  5. A Kashmiri Pandit’s ability can bridge the social and political divide and help in creating the atmosphere of mutual understanding among different provinces of our largely diverse state of J&K. His intellectual prowess and deep understanding of society can be applied for the betterment of relations among different sections of our community. His intrinsic ability to quickly assimilate ones thoughts and expressions will come handy. Learning, studying and venturing into new fields of knowledge has given him the edge over others. Therefore in the pervading mood and ripe atmosphere, it is to be seen whether present political dispensation augments the rise of Kashmiri Pandits like a phoenix from the ashes or he is left unchaperoned to struggle for his survival & eventually vanish into an unknown oblivion.

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