B L Saraf
One more Kashmiri Pandit has been crucified at the altar of nationalism. One more human life has been sniffed out by a gun wielded by the demented bigot. Once again an attempt is on to ‘intellectualize’ the dastardly act. Always available, though in different attire, apologists are up with a loud whisper “No it was not a KP but a public functionary working in a remote village who has been killed by the militants .” Well we are yet to know whether a Sarpanch’s post is a religious neutral one , which required a potential candidate to be a person not adhering to any faith or belief . Or, once elected the faithful had to forsake his/ her faith, just to retain the post.” Well these are the questions whose answers we don’t need and should be treated with the contempt they deserve. In the initial days of tragedy we heard some people raise an unsavory debate about political affiliations of the martyr. Mercifully, the debate died down before it could cause any unnecessary cleavage in the community.
Mr Ajay Pandita -popularly known as Ajay Bharti – has been martyred . He was a young and a dynamic person whose dedication to the job and hard work impressed his electors. He was always fired with public spirit to do his best to serve the village, falling within the territorial jurisdiction of Tehsil Dooru, in Kashmir. Ajay Bharti was an elected Sarpanch of village Lokbhavan. He lived among his voters, unmindful of the threat to his life which , as per his TV interview of Dec 2019, were real. He had approached the authorities for a security cover but never got one. He went ahead in the line of duty, unsecured but undeterred .
The gruesome tragedy has, quite naturally, caused an unprecedented outrage in the displaced community. The community as also some significant sections of Jammu civil society showed a concern and felt genuinely alarmed. Most of them called on the bereaved family to share grief . Nonetheless, there wasn’t dearth of elements who , per habit , suddenly sprout from nowhere and , in affectation, show grief, only to push their personal agenda. Then we have to contend with the , unsolicited , ‘considered opinions ‘ , dispensed free by the omnipresent busy bodies .
Of all the concerned who ought to be there, missing from the scene was our Government. We didn’t hear a word of condemnation of this dastardly act coming from Kashmir based political parties or their functionaries who, day in and day out, talk of ” Kashmiriyat ‘ and sing paeans of pluralistic ethos of the Valley. Similarly , none had a word of sympathy for the bereaved family of the martyr.
The tragedy resurrects the old challenge which ,though ,had not subsided completely. But some optimistic community members had started to entertain a notion that they are on way to overcome it. This is a matter is more for incumbent Government in New Delhi to ponder over than for the displaced community . After all Shaeed Ajay did take a plunge – for a nationalistic cause- at a time when mainstream political players in the Valley, who in not so distant past had done the business, played truant this time. Despite heavy odds and braving physical threats, he honoured the call of nation and actively participated in a democratic exercise undertaken at the gross root level . The martyr kept flag flying high for which he had to pay with his young and precious life . If such a brave and conscientious child of the displaced community goes unsung in New Delhi – where ‘nationalists’ rule then god save us. We can’t complain much against Srinagar and Jammu because these ‘capitol cities’ stand well and truly subsumed by the MHA .
Srinagar and Jammu ‘capitol cities” come to mind only for their insensitive, if not callous , behavior displayed in the tragic episode . Rather than deputing an officer of some rank to visit the bereaved family of Mr Ajay Pandita ,with a message of condolence and words of solace, the unfortunate family was ordered to the High Place where “graciously” pea nuts were doled out to them. It is a tribute to the nationalistic instinct of father and daughters of the Shaheed who did not stand on ceremonies and, as disciplined citizen , obeyed the call of High Place. We are told Mr Pandita was the sole bread earner of his family and had to look after his wife, two teenage daughters and an aged father. Therefore, one can understand family’s dilemma . Yes, a human life is so precious and invaluable that it can never be evaluated in monetary terms and no amount , howsoever fat it is , can compensate a human loss . But then it is equally true that to carry on in this world succor is needed .
For long , the displaced community has taken pride for being an ‘Offering ‘ – Ahuti – into the ‘Havan of Nationalism’. Well Nationalism may have triumphed elsewhere- for the community gods refuse to get propitiated. We are there where we were, thirty years back. There has been no forward movement on the front of return and rehabilitation. PMs employment package is still half implemented.Temples and shrines of Hindus in Kashmir stand abandoned and bereft of a statutory cover. The community is caught in a ladder and snake game –one step up ten down . Have we to embark on a new beginning? if so with what prospect , as nothing looks on the horizon.
Shaeed Ajay, while laying down his life for a national cause, has a message for the rulers in New Delhi – – protect young and old from dying on the streets of Kashmir. Or else we are destined to lament , till eternity -la Faiz Ahmad Faiz :
Tujh koe kitnoo kaa lahoo chahyey ae arze wattan
Joe teray arzey berang koe gulnaar karey
Kitnee ahoon se tera kaleja thanda hoega
Kitney asoon terey sehrahoon koe gulzar karein
(The author is former Principal District & Sessions Judge)
B L Saraf