Time To Open Dialogue With Kashmiri Pandit Leadership

| Updated: 06 October, 2021 3:22 pm IST

First Killings

Once again the blood of Hindus has been spilt on the soil of Kashmir. This cycle has been going on since 1986  when famous  Hakim of Tangwar Srikanth Pandita was murdered in mysterious circumstances. Why was inquiry officer  suddenly transferred  and at whose behest we were never told. Next  followed  the  killing  of the  custodian of the  historic Vicharnag shrine in Srinagar, Keshav Nath Pandita. He was shot dead by the  security guard posted at the shrine for his security. The protector becoming the killer.

Around same time  two Kashmiri Pandits went missing and were never traced. One hailed from Bandipore town. He  had gone to distribute invitation cards for his wedding and was probably kidnapped from  Batmaloo  Bus stand. Second one hailed from Habba Kadal area. He  had left for his office as usual in the morning and never returned. We do not know if any inquiry was conducted into the two  disappearances and  what were its results. READ & WATCH: ‘You Can Only Kill His Body, Not The Spirit’: Daughter Of Slain Kashmiri Pandit ML Bindroo Dares Terrorists For Open Debate

These killings and disappearances were not isolated instances  and were link in the chain that  claimed the life of Makhan Lal Bindroo yesterday.Bindroo  had stayed back in 1990 and had been very helpful to the local Muslims.But then kindness and humanity are not virtues when ethnic cleansing is  on  the agenda. GOI  took  no  serious cognisance of the killings and disappearances in 1986. Probably   it  would    forget  the killing of Makhan Lal Bindroo too after a  routine  condemnation and warning to the terrorists.

Ethnic cleansing

A normal state is one that apprehends security challenges to the state and earnestly devises appropriate strategies to provide safety to its citizens. The state behaviour was not normal  in 1980s. Ethnic cleansing of Pandit community in 1990  became  inevitable. Had Pandits dithered they would have been caught in a situation similar to Bosnia as noted well by Major General Arjun Ray in his  well-researched  book Kashmir Dairy.

After being forced out the attitude of successive governments were  apathetic as well as inhuman. Directions were given to the  newspapers to underplay ethnic cleansing with a perverted  claim that it would disturb communal harmony in the country. Vested interests in political parties, media and academia engaged in denial over ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus  and supported anti-national  political agendas on Kashmir.

The government  had failed to give protection to  the Pandits  in Kashmir  for continued stay. It also abdicated its role   in securing their  left over property. Inept political leadership that ruled the country was never serious about holistic and durable return of Kashmiri Hindus. This is the reason why community based leadership is not engaged on the issue nor any serious framework for return of Pandits  evolved. Creation of counterfeit groups and spurious statements that Pandits are divided are an  extension of this flawed and dishonest approach.

Half-hearted Measures

Half-hearted measures are taken to enact a tokenist return. This only invites massacres and killings. Sangrampora, Nadimarg, Wandhama, Telwani,Gool etc. are just few instances. From time to time empty slogans of Kashmiriyat are raised to impress upon Pandits  that they can live as before ,notwithstanding  talibanisation of the local  society. This is to convey that  they   should forget about secured rehabilitation. Many senior BJP and RSS  leaders have been actively opposing secured rehabilitation of Kashmiri Hindus. It is they who put lives of Hindus to risk by exposing them to talibanised entrepreneurs.

Government’s policies have certainly made decisive assaults on terrorist infrastructure and their support structures. But nothing has changed so far as Kashmiri Hindus are concerned. Safe and secured return of Kashmiri Hindus is the  real  test of complete normalcy.

Killings of Hindus in Kashmir have to stop. These are unacceptable. If Govt. is really interested in return of Hindus  it has to abandon half-hearted measures and devise  a framework for sustainable return. This means involving community based leadership and abandon dismissive approach towards suggestions from Pandits.

Real  Challenge

Challenge in Kashmir is two-fold. One, the terrorism sponsored by Pakistan and international jihadi groups. Two, the  terrorist mindset fed by  long incubation of communalism and Salafisation. It is the latter that continues to breed new crops of  jihadis. Unless counter-insurgency measures factorise terrorist mindset in counter-insurgency strategies mere killings of terrorists will not deliver peace. Identifying processes through which jihadist mindset perpetuates is important to smash it.

Government takes  much needed  measures but fails to visualise backlash from terrorist entrepreneurs. It  leaves soft targets undefended. This happened when  proprietor of Krishna Dhaba was gunned down in heart of Srinagar after  the decision  on Domicile certificates. Killing of Bindroo followed strong directions by the Govt. to free Pandit property from encroachment.  Recent killings are a failure of political as well as security strategies.

Government should send a strong message to terrorists and their sponsors that it will not abandon the measures meant for granting domicile to non-Kashmiris and  facilitating return of Pandits.

It is time for Pandits to do plain-speaking and speak truth to power. Government should take three measures urgently. One, declare all sales of Pandit property since 1990 as distress sales. Two, take immediate measures for providing security to Hindus living in Kashmir. Three, open dialogue with community based leadership of Pandits to evolve modalities for creation of Panun Kashmir.

(Dr Ramesh Tamiri is a researcher on the history, politics and culture of Kashmir.)

[Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs, and views expressed by the various authors and forum participants on this website are personal.]


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