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Holocaust Day: Four physical pillars of Kashmiri Hindus struggle in exile


-Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo

The task of writing contemporary history and historical events has always been recognized as the most stupendous task. It had been always so and it will continue to be so. Yet attempts are made to put in efforts to create the support system to build a historical narrative about the contemporary events. The mass exodus and ethnic cleansing of the Hindu-Sikh minorities of the valley of Kashmir in 1989-90 was an unbelievable and inconceivable event of history. It took some time for the primary victims of Islamic terrorism and jihad to reconcile to the gruesome situation.

The best way to relieve oneself of the pain of the horrendous events was to narrate the stories of horror that one experienced while being forced to take the road of the exodus from their thousands of years old historical habitat in the valley. A few ventured to put it into letters, words, sentences and paragraphs. But most of them were produced in the form of fiction, poetry and stories with emotional representation. A large volume of displacement-literature was created during the last three decades that has become the supporting documentation of the true story of events. However, on the occasion of completing 31 years of exile, on this Holocaust Day, it is time to begin the task of compiling the real-time history of struggle in exile of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits.

Fortunately, for this author, as a part of the struggle in exile, ab initio, there is no need for any evidence or a witness to substantiate the struggle narrative. It is like speaking one’s own experiences and telling the story of three complete decades with scanning format. The truth needs to be told with an honest and sincere purpose for the generations to learn from mistakes. The story of struggle in exile of the Pandits is a voluminous chapter that needs an immense amount of pages to describe it. However, a humble beginning can be made in a humble manner at this point of time.

In order to be more precise, but accurate, there were/are four physical and existing pillars of the struggle in exile, each contributing their bit while complementing and supplementing each other, advertently and inadvertently both. The analysis is based upon their consistency, commitment, outreach and impact over the last three decades coupled with a support base and access capability.

Immediately after the forced mass exodus, the Geeta Bhawan, Parade and J&K Sahayta Samiti (inspired by RSS/BJP) emerged out to be the major focal points of the displaced community in Jammu. It was a very successful first aid, care and cure system that did its job during the early couple of years of displacement very meticulously. It was entirely a humanitarian aid business that rescued the communities of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits, Sikhs and other Kashmiri Hindus in Jammu, Udhampur, Kathua and different places. The then oldest organisation of the Pandits in Jammu and Kashmir, the All-State Kashmiri Pandit Conference (SDYS) under the leadership of Pt. A.N.Vaishnavi collaborated with this humanitarian aid effort and did a marvellous contribution towards the welfare of the community.

Having said that, the main socio-political responsibility to build an ideology based visionary narrative about the displacement and resettlement in Kashmir was owned by a new initiative called Panun Kashmir. It drew its founding inspiration from Resolution no. 4 of the Kashmiri Hindu Convention held on 13-14 July 1990 at Jammu under the banner of SDYS. It was on 31st December 1990 that Panun Kashmir was established formally to spearhead the political movement of the Kashmiri Pandit community as a full fledged representative body. It did its job in the most appropriate and professional manner on a global level unheard till that time and with an unparallel precision and no alternative insight. It emerged as the strongest pillar of the struggle in exile over the last three decades with its Margdarshan Resolution passed and adopted on 28 December 1991 as the leading light of the movement.

After a gap of ten years of the formation of Panun Kashmir, a group of youth under the banner of All India Kashmiri Samaj Youth, inspired by the instinct of immediate survival concern, came into prominence. It reached out to the educated but unemployed youth of the community and made its contribution in a candid manner by espousing their cause. It established itself as the second pillar of the struggle in chronological order and importance.
Again after a decade, in 2011, Prem Nath Bhat Memorial Trust initiated a campaign for the constitution of a Board for Hindu temples and shrines in Kashmir. It formulated a proposed Bill in this connection and spearheaded the campaign with commitment and zeal. Its movement drew support from pan community outreach and especially from the South Kashmir social base. It naturally assumed the position of the third pillar by virtue of its appeal, work and consistency.

All other social, cultural and humanitarian aid projects, bodies, Sabhas and groups formed the fourth pillar of the struggle in exile, jointly, doing their bit with dedication and sincerity. It included Kashmiri Samiti-Delhi, AIKS, KOA, KPS-Jammu, IAKF, JKVM and sundry. The latest in this group to join and strengthen this pillar of strength is GKPD. It has emerged as a voice of the Global Diaspora of the Kashmiri Pandits and has taken over as the inheritor of the Panun Kashmir overseas chapter. Coincidently, the Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora has also evolved itself again after a decade of the emergence of the third pillar of the struggle in exile. Keeping in view the overall scenario, the Kashmiri Pandit struggle in exile crafted a wonderful history of contribution to the cause, with an inspiring doctrine of “with, without and despite” guiding the struggle. It would be important to mention here that the philanthropic work undertaken especially by the KOA and KMECT also contributed to the struggle in exile in a big way.

Truly speaking, Panun Kashmir gave the Kashmiri Pandits a reason to be proud of by articulating their geopolitical aspirations in a forthright manner. The way it led from the front at all levels and in all geographic zones with complete finesse despite its vivisection speaks of its ideological strength, vision and character. Panun Kashmir’s street protests, corner meetings, various yatras, big rallies, dedicated human rights campaigns, conferences, seminars, global outreach and impact, documentation, media management, exhibitions, presentations before parliamentary committees, foreign delegations and governments made its contributions outstanding and its existence profound. Almost in all these four pillars of struggle in exile in addition to the BJP, the founding fathers of Panun Kashmir guided/guide their agenda directly or indirectly as an important source of strength regarding ‘Kashmir and Kashmiri Pandits’. The national and international human rights activism, regarding the genocide of Hindus, by Panun Kashmir formed a great campaign pursuit on behalf of the Kashmiri Pandits which found its due place in history, human rights legacy and syllabuses of the university curriculum. It was and will remain a unique contribution to the cause of human rights on behalf of the Pandits of Kashmir.

The AIKSYouth has been frontal in all its endeavours while pushing their ideas about the realisation of its survival agenda. It also hit the streets quite often during the last two decades and made a visible impact. Likewise, the PNBMT came forward with a loving mission thus enveloping most of the active players to support its movement for the adoption of the Bill. It missed its target by a narrow margin in the erstwhile Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir due to ‘miscommunication’ with the friendly legislators in 2014 when the Bill was tabled in the Assembly.
The new global KP banner, GKPD, took some very good initiatives during the tough time of the year 2020 and most of them were a success. The #HinduLivesMatter and #TheKashmirFestival are two of its very successful campaigns that made a perceptible difference in the outreach and narrative on Kashmir. BJP, as a political party, continued to support the cause of the welfare of Kashmiri Pandits continuously; but the struggle in exile is the sole responsibility of the community leaders and activists irrespective of their political affiliations. The resilience shown by the members of the community is not only astounding but also exemplary.

The Hindus of Kashmir in terms of their struggle in exile have articulated their geopolitical aspirations very well and their next immediate aim would be to demand their due political representation via Delimitation Commission. The other preludes to their resettlement in Kashmir remain the establishment of “Special Crimes Tribunal” and constitution of a Board for all temples and shrines in Kashmir. Then the employment opportunities for educated youth will also be on immediate priority for which the related exercises are in process.

The four pillars of the KP struggle in exile are the existing columns of identity, character, commitment, sacrifice and achievement of the displaced community, which has faced ‘apartheid’, bias, discrimination, exclusion and marginalisation of acute dimensions in its own land, besides terrorism and Jihad. Their resettlement in Kashmir, as per their aspirations, is a major agenda to be achieved as an actual achievement of the struggle in exile for which the national will and capability have to come forth, sooner or later, like abrogation of Art370. It won’t be out of place to mention that the Muslim majority community of Kashmir can’t absolve itself of its responsibility to pave way for the resettlement of the displaced community back in the valley since its members are held responsible, collectively, for the forced mass exodus of the community in Kashmir.

When future will look back to the past, every action would get counted, so would the action of those also get counted who made every attempt to dislodge and derail the struggle in exile in consequence of their own selfish interests, ends, position, status and seat.

The historians will write the history of struggle in golden letters as it deserves the same. On our 32nd Holocaust Day, a humble beginning to this effect, we make today, to be followed upon eventually…..!


This Article was First Published in 2020