Indifference towards KPs return

K K Khosa
The Kashmiri Pandits have their inalienable right to get resettled in Kashmir which none can snatch away. It was the bounden duty of the GOI during the past ten years to initiate steps in that direction. When so much was done to change the way of governance of this great nation, benefiting lives of crores of people, why no heed has been paid to this important issue is heartbreaking and inexplicable.
Modi Government has had clarity about dealing with the protracted Kashmir imbroglio which had been defying a solution for the past seven decades. The Congress Government at the center in tandem with the consecutive state governments during the past seven decades continued to brush the issue under the carpet without bothering about the fallout which their callousness would have on the future of the state and particularly for it’s people. Pakistan took full advantage of this lackadaisical approach and continued to spread violence and unrest for decades together especially in connivance with Kashmir based separatists who were misleading gullible common Kashmiris. While on the one hand GOI showed it’s political will to uproot terrorists from the valley by eliminating them with brute force, on the other hand they started effectively plugging the source of funds of the antinational forces, separatists, terrorists, their sympathizers and their overground workers. The groundbreaking use of state agencies like the NIA SIA ED IT etc. brought about great results. Abrogation of articles 370 & 35A and the reorganization of J&K state was another decision which helped in dealing with the protracted Kashmir imbroglio more effectively. While all these successful measures are highly commendable yet what has prevented them from taking any steps for the formulation of a robust return and rehabilitation policy for the Kashmiri Pandits is baffling. Another important area which was neglected was a lack of policy of simultaneously engaging with the nationalist sections of the people of the UT. For any kind of return and rehabilitation policy to achieve optimum and long-lasting results the support of the Kashmir based regional political parties is imperative. In addition the local bureaucracy also has to be cooperative.
We had a double engine Government here as well but understandably it’s connect with people was not there.
NDA 1 did try to initiate an exercise in 2014 and 2015 but it inexplicably and abruptly shelved the preliminary steps taken at that time.
Many bounties have been passed on to large sections of deprived people by the Narendra Modi led Government through it’s welfare schemes during the past ten years. Yet this core issue of the pandits remained sidelined.
Due to a lack of communication with the KPs, some knee jerk measures which were taken from time to time proved detrimental and counterproductive. Now Kashmiri Pandits once again have high hopes from NDA 3. This is more so, since Government support is intrinsic for establishing lasting peace and tranquility in the valley which is essential for their safe and honorable return and rehabilitation.
Narendra Modi led NDA 2 has much to explain why this core issue of return and rehabilitation was completely ignored. Lame duck excuses like security for returnees was going to be a great challenge don’t hold any water. Where was the hitch in engaging with the community leadership to create a robust return and rehabilitation policy. Ten years are a long period for a community which is facing an existential threat after getting uprooted from the land of its forefathers. Sermons about saving culture and language coming from the government as well as the civil society sound hollow and meaningless.
Community has always been supportive of all steps taken by the Narendra Modi led GOI, yet it has been an unpardonable dereliction of the bounden duty of GOI to have shown their indifference and perhaps calculated insolence in this respect. Kashmiri Pandits are a self respecting community that did not even bat an eyelid when it had to leave behind properties and possessions worth thousands of crores and overnight leave the land of their ancestors in order to safeguard their lives and honor. The then GOI and the state government had failed in their duties to safeguard their interests. We fail to understand why the NDA 2 has chosen to remain silent over core issues adding insult to injury during it’s past tenure.
The National Conference which is undoubtedly the premier regional political party of Kashmir remained a mute spectator to the minority community’s exodus. Even thereafter except for paying lip service to the community no major steps were taken by them. My writeup is going to ruffle feathers but it is high time someone spoke up.
Flimsy reasons being touted by some vested interests about not participating in the polls in large numbers or about community leadership speaking in different voices and not having any definitive proposal further amplify the indifference of the NDA 2 towards the beleaguered community.
Once again the community has pinned high expectations from the Narendra Modi led NDA 3 Government which will again come to power in June 2024. Modi Ji has promised to take far reaching decisions which will impact lives of crores of people. We expect formation of a robust return and rehabilitation policy for the Displaced Kashmiri Pandits to be one amongst those important decisions. The announcement by the Home Minister Amit Shah that assembly elections will be held by the 30th of September will be relevant for the pandits only in case all political parties work out a formula which could enable at least three Kashmiri Pandits to get elected as MLAs, one each from the areas falling in the jurisdiction of the three parliamentary constituencies of Kashmir.