B L Saraf
The grateful nation celebrated November, the 26th as a Constitutional Day. The day began with a reiteration of essential features of the Constitution of India, as embodied in Preamble and codified in the Fundamental Rights Chapter . An effort was made to sensitize people regarding the exalted values enshrined in the Book of Governance . Constitution of India is a document of governance which promises for “We The People ” Justice – Social, Economic and Political. Dignity of a citizen, irrespective of his caste, creed or faith – is hallmark of the Book.
The day has a specific importance for J &K, as the state has become part of one constitution . That may be a reason for a big celebration. But that shouldn’t blind us to the fact that a big section of state’s society is living in a displaced mode – scattered, far away from their home and hearth – for the last three decades. Thirty years ago Kashmiri Hindus were thrown out of the Valley. Yet, no light at the end of dark tunnel. Their forced expulsion was engineered by the indoctrinated communal forces, working at the behest of inimical elements living across the border. Failure of the state contributed in good measure. The displaced community’s plight must be highlighted at the time when we are celebrating the Day. Speaking on the occasion to mark the Constitution Day PM Narendra Modi said ” If I were to sum up essence of the Constitution in easy language , it would be dignity for Indians and unity for India. It has upheld dignity of every Indian …” Wish , it could be so for the displaced Pandits, who are as much Indians as anyone can be, or, is in Delhi and elsewhere in the country . There is no dignity in being thrown out of the home.
It is a tragedy of sorts that Kashmiri Pandits displacement is considered as their migration. Word ‘Migrant ‘ prefixed en block to the community conveys a misleading meaning. Expulsion can never be a migration. This insensitive prefixing has exposed every displaced person to the humiliation and a demeaning look . It is an affront to the self respect fraught with a tendency to lower self -worth. In real terms, the displaced community lives denuded of basic constitutional rights, disenfranchised and politically disempowered. One can endure physical injury but the pain of mental injury becomes unbearable. The Pandits live in a stateless position . They have been subjected to the structural and willful humiliation. Adverse circumstances have forced them to survive on doles . Humiliation constitutes a grave wrong doing when one’s self respect is irretrievably lowered . Adding insult to the injury is the fact that the displaced are assessed as a tribe that has no view point, no thought and no sense of history which can be herded to any direction . While as the community is known for everything quite opposite to this demeaning assessment .
President Ram Nath Kovind called for Constitutional morality in all organs of the state. ‘ Constitutional morality ‘ , as we know, has an inseparable ingredient called ‘ inclusion.’ Inclusion of all sections of the Indian society. This statement flies on the face when a significant section of State’s population stands excluded from the political and demographic milieu of the nation .
In the beginning of year 2019 hope rekindled in KPs that things may turn better for them when, prior to the Lok Sabha election , Prime Minister Modi told a gathering in Srinagar that he shares pain of the displaced Pandits and expressed his commitment ” to restore rights and justice ” to them . He assured the community that its members will get roof to live in the Valley. His reassuring words bear repetition “Kashmiriat demands that those Kashmiri Pandits who had to flee due to the violence here, leaving behind their homes, land and memories of their ancestors, they should be settled here with full honor.” PM then went on to announce a plan of construction of flats at various places in Kashmir for resettlement of the displaced persons. One can only say that. PM remembers these words and is on the job to redeem them.
There is something for the community to ponder over. While as nothing can be done on the sense of misplaced triumphalism displayed by some demented souls over its expulsion, thought has to be spared for those, claiming to be our own , who used the situation for personal ends and exploited community’s victimhood to settle their political and personal scores , elsewhere . At the same time help rendered by those well meaning persons -institutions- must be recognized which made community’s human resources prosper. There is an impelling need to dispel the impression that the displaced community is an adjunct of any political force .
The Constitution Day provides an occasion when we must talk about ‘ dignity ‘ of the displaced KPs – Indians by heart and mind. Some may say that time should be given to the present dispensation ,in New Delhi, to sort out the ” complicated” issue. Others would contend that six years of earlier NDA rule led by AB Vajpayee and present six year rule of Modi led NDA should have been enough for settlement of the issue. Anyway , at the end of year 2019 there is an affirmation of hope. Now that PM Narendra Modi has reiterated ” essence ” of the Constitution , we trust such reiteration will be translated into a real action on the ground so that KP’s ‘suspended dignity ” is restored to the full. And, in a good time they stand resettled in their place of birth .
(The author is former Principal District & Sessions Judge)
B L Saraf