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The Grievances Of Kashmiri Pandits

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Justice Markandey Katju writes about the Kashmiri pandits who fled from Kashmir a quarter of a century back, losing their jobs and much of their properties. He says they need to forget their past and move on.

Kashmiri Pandits (KPs) were a small peaceful community living for centuries in Kashmir. They constituted of only about 400,000 people out of the 8 million people living in Kashmir i.e. about 5% of the total population.

In the 1990s, they were selectively targeted during the militancy in Kashmir, several were brutally killed and threats were given from mosques in Kashmir that they should convert to Islam or leave the valley.

Notices were posted overnight on their doors that they should get out of Kashmir or get killed. Mobs would come to their houses shouting that the men Pandits should get out of Kashmir, but the women will not be allowed to go. All this led to the ethnic cleansing and exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley out of fear.

I am myself a Kashmiri Pandit, and I know what was done to Kashmiri Pandits was terrible. Several of my own family members (on my wife’s side) suffered a lot, and they told me their horrible experiences.

But all that happened over a quarter of a century ago. The present Kashmiri Muslim youth were not even born then, or were toddlers. So to blame them is like blaming the present Germans who were born after 1945 for what the Nazis did to the Jews.

As regards the middle aged Kashmiri Muslims, no doubt many of them participated in the atrocities on KPs, or were indifferent when they should have actively opposed such atrocities.

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However, it must also be added that many Kashmiri Muslims, who were against oppression of KPs, had to be silent as they were unarmed and so did not want to risk their lives confronting armed militants (just as many Germans who did not approve of atrocities on Jews during the Nazi era had to remain silent lest they themselves were sent to a concentration camp).

The present KP youth were born outside Kashmir, or were little children when their parents fled from Kashmir. So they have no roots in Kashmir, and they are settled in Delhi, Bombay etc and holding jobs there. They will not go to live in Kashmir.

As regards the middle aged KPs they too would be unwilling to go back to Kashmir because they have nothing to go back to.

They fled from Kashmir a quarter of a century back, losing their jobs and much of their properties. Also, they have lived for a quarter of a century outside Kashmir and would have adjusted there. Their children have completed their education and would be in some jobs in Delhi, Mumbai etc or even abroad. So they would prefer to live with their children.

Therefore, Kashmiri pundits have to forget the past and move on.

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