On the Return of Kashmiri Pandits to Kashmir

Nasir Khan, April 28, 2015

I will offer only a short comment on Dr Badri Raina’s article. As a Kashmiri Pandit who had witnessed the trauma of the partition of India in 1947 and of his native land, the Princely State of the Jammu and Kashmir, Raina has continued to offer his ideas for resolving the Kashmir conflict. His ideas, as far as I have understood him from his articles, were primarily motivated to finding a way through which the legitimate political grievances of the people of Jammu and Kashmir can be addressed. Incidentally, any long sentences of this erudite professor of English should not scare anyone! He means well.

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The flight of the Kashmiri Pandits to India in the 1990s during the militant insurgency was one vicious aspect of the political quagmire that prevailed in Kashmir. However, the question of their return to the Valley needs a careful assessment based on a close knowledge of the problem and a dispassionate scrutiny of the political environment existing there. For a number of reasons, Raina is well suited to do that and his article shows his political realism. What he says about the conditions under which they can return and the practical matters involved in their resettlement are far-sighted and judicious. Perhaps he could have given his readers some more information with regard to the overall political context under which the Pandits fled. As I see it, that context continues to be the old problem of the partition in 1947.

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The passage of six decades has not resolved or removed the causes of the conflict. In fact, Delhi has shown little inclination to deal with the basic demands of the people of the Valley and instead has kept on repeating the slogans the vast majority of Kashmiris reject. I welcome the present calm in the Valley but that should not let any well-wisher of the people of Kashmir think that the period of political strife and violence is behind us. If the Indian rulers continue to follow the same old policies without addressing the demands of the people then the present calm may be only temporary. That can make the fate of returning Pandits risky once again.
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Jammu And Kashmir: Return Of The Natives

By Badri Raina

Source: Mainstream Weekly, April 26, 2015

First a non-sequitor: the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley is fraught with great perplexities of emotion, organisation, and healthy sustainability. This contemplated return will not but be attended with consequences of historic import both for the State of Jammu and Kashmir and the subcontinent, one way or another. Of that there should be no doubt. Reason why the premises on which the project is undertaken need to be as comprehensively and objectively understood and acknowledged as may be possible.

I write, of course, as a Kashmiri Pandit who migrated from the State in normal course more than half-a-century ago; and, although I am in the Valley frequently—every second year if not every year—and have friendships and inter-actions that span a very wide spectrum of the population, I cannot possibly lay any claim to the substance of the experience of those Pandits who were forced to flee the Valley in 1990—a fact which, however, may not rob me of the prerogative to express myself on the question with otherwise a legitimate vantage, more perhaps than of those who are neither Kashmiris, nor Pandits, nor frequent visitors to the State, especially the Valley. It is just that those of us who have not experienced the brutalities we speak of worldwide have only the option of empathising with them with what sincere force of imagination we command.

Continues >>

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