Kashmiri Pandits jammu

Shift Kashmiri Pandits To Safer Jammu Till Situation Improves: Ghulam Nabi Azad

Democratic Azad Party Chief and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the Kashmiri Pandit employees of the Jammu and Kashmir government should be temporarily shifted to Jammu till the situation improves in Kashmir.

Questioning the safety of the Kashmiri Pandits, he said that life is more important than employment and that the government should transfer Kashmiri Pandits to Jammu.
“The Government should transfer Kashmiri Pandit employees to Jammu and transfer them back only when the situation improves,” said Azad.

“If our government comes to power, we will transfer the Kashmiri Pandits to Jammu until the situation improves,” he said.

Lt Governor Manoj Sinha had last week said that Kashmiri Pandits serving in the Valley will not be paid their salaries if they do not attend their duties.

Migrant Kashmiri Pandits have been protesting against the decision of the government claiming that they are being threatened by the terrorists and can’t go back to work.

“We are receiving death threats repeatedly, the latest being on Wednesday night. We were told that a policeman would be posted outside the place of our posting. But we do not trust the security policy of the administration,” said a Kashmiri Pandit.

“The main reason behind the protests is an insecure environment prevailing in Kashmir. We have been protesting since the day targeted killings started against the minority community in the Valley. We appeal to the government to post us at safe and secure places,” said Rohit, a Kashmiri Pandit who is participating in the protests.

Kashmir has been witnessing a series of targeted killings since October last year.

Targeted killings in Kashmir Valley were part of a larger conspiracy by terrorists of Hizbul Mujahideen and other proscribed terrorist outfits to disturb the peace and democratic process established by the Panchayati Raj System in Kashmir Valley and also to create terror among the politically elected representatives, an NIA charge sheet said earlier.

The revelation came when the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in September filed the charge sheet against six accused in the targeted killing of a Sarpanch of Adoora village in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kulgam.

The counter-terror agency filed the chargesheet in a special NIA court in Jammu in the case of the targeted killing of Sarpanch Shabir Ahmad Mir by the terrorists of the proscribed terrorist outfit Hizbul Mujahideen.

The case was initially registered on March 11 at Kulgam police station in Jammu and Kashmir and re-registered by the NIA on April 8.

Investigations have revealed that the handlers of the proscribed terrorist organization Hizbul Mujahideen operating from Pakistan, hatched a criminal conspiracy in collusion with terrorist associates and Over Ground Workers and terrorists of Hizbul Mujahideen active in Kashmir Valley to carry out the targeted killing of Sarpanch Shabir Ahmad Mir, said the NIA. (ANI)

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Civilian Shot Dead By Terrorist

J-K: Civilian Shot Dead By Terrorist In Shopian

A civilian succumbed to his injuries after terrorists opened fire at Chowdari Gund in Shopian on Saturday.

The deceased has been identified as Puran Krishan Bhat, a Kashmiri Pandit.
The injured was shifted to the hospital where he was declared dead.

“Terrorists fired upon a civilian (minority) Puran Krishan Bhat while he was on his way to an orchard in Chowdari Gund, Shopian. He was immediately shifted to hospital for treatment where he succumbed,” the Jammu Kashmir police said.

The area has been cordoned off and a search was in progress, the police further said.

Most details are awaited. (ANI)

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Kashmiri Pandit Family

‘Pandits Can Return Only After Kashmiris Agree To Accept Them’

Surbhi Sapru, 31, who belongs to a displaced Kashmiri Pandit family, says her return to the state is not possible unless the ruptured social fabric is restored in Kashmir

My family used to live in the Habba Kadal area of Srinagar, an area that saw mass exodus of Pandits in the 1990s. However, my grandfather had decided much earlier to leave the place, because socially active people like him had been getting targeted, threatened, much before ordinary people and in 1982 he (an educationist) decided it wasn’t safe for my family to remain there.

My brother and I weren’t born yet, so it is our parents and family who had to leave a piece of their heart and hearth behind in Kashmir. My family shifted base to Jammu, still hopeful that things might get better in Kashmir, but that was not to be; things only got worse from there.

I was born in 1990, at the cusp of change, when Kashmir’s history, geography, everything was being re-written. Even the Dogra community was against us. So when my father got a chance to settle in Jaipur, he jumped at it. Jaipur became home for us the next 14 years.

Abrogation of Article 370 did bring hope, but it is only a flicker and it is a long road before Kashmiri Pandits can think of going back ‘home’. The Jammu & Kashmir issue might be seen as a political issue but deep down it is a breakdown of the social fabric. People from different religions have coexisted in different parts of India, but in Kashmir that gets caught in religious turmoil.

Surbhi says her grandfather (left) would break down on every Maha Shivratri, which their family celebrated in Kashmir with much pomp

If the ordinary citizen understands each other, then the issue can be resolved, otherwise nothing will change, the problem will linger on. Thus both the Kashmiri Pandits as well as Muslims will have to reassure each other: Hum ek doosre ko jante hain padosi ke taur par, hum kisi teesre ki baton me nahi aayenge (We will resolve matter between us as neighbours; won’t allow a third party to mediate). While many leaders have advocated a special, safe zone for Pandits, labelled Panun Kashmir, I say why can’t Pandits stay wherever they want in Jammu & Kashmir?

We have been displaced once. If the government is talking about rehabilitation, then Pandits need to feel safe; that they can trust everyone around us in Kashmir. Let me share an incident. I had gone to our Kul Devi (family deity) temple (Kheer Bhawani) in 2016 along with my mother on a Friday. Right after the juma namaz got over, our car started getting chased by many people. Every few minutes, we would be stopped by someone or the other. Our driver, a local Sikh from Kashmir, kept on requesting people to let us go. Apparently there was some strike and they were angry that Sardarji was still driving us in his taxi and that we were Hindus.

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Those angry faces, the fear that I felt that day cannot be explained in words. We also gave lift to two Ladakhi policemen midway, who were in the same predicament as us. They weren’t liked there. I was utterly surprised to see that even a 10 year old was threatening us. But how many people can you reason with? At one point a group of people pushed open the taxi door, to pull us out, and only after a lot of pleading from the Sardarji, we were let off.  Till the time this hatred among Jammu-Kashmiri citizens is there, the return of Pandits is not possible. Who knows one might be made to leave again.

I remember the teary eyes of my grandfather, on every Maha Shivaratri which they used to celebrate with great pomp in Kashmir. He told us a story that when he was posted in Gurez, a Peer Baba (holy man) had asked him to take the responsibility of educating a Muslim child. My grandfather followed his instruction and treated the boy like a son in the family. However, the family had to leave him behind. He still sometimes comes to meet us, now that we have shifted to Delhi, and my parents reminisce about the olden times.

Dadaji is no more. But his love for Kashmir flows in our veins too. But unless there is reassurance for peace on the ground, not by the political leadership, our return to homeland is not possible. I bear no hatred for any community in my heart, but also expect that we are not hated for our beliefs as well.

Life of A Jammu-Kashmir Citizen

‘Slowly The Situation On Ground Is Improving In J&K’

Priyanka Pandita, a 29 year old Kashmiri Pandit, says life of a Jammu-Kashmir citizen has improved marginally since August 5, 2019, when the Centre abrogated Article 370

As someone who belongs to Jammu & Kashmir, we see the world differently and in turn are seen differently by the rest of the country (or the rest of the world). So far there has been no possibility of having a good education or work life in Kashmir and those of us who can move out of the state, do so. But when we go to other states for studies or work, most people see us only as Jammu & Kashmir residents and less as people who have dreams, hopes and aspirations of a better life.

Till Class 12 I lived in J&K, but after that I have lived in Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Karnataka for higher studies and just shifted to Mumbai post-marriage, but the story was the same everywhere… Kashmir just meant violence and terrorism to other people.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say we have had an identity crisis of sorts. There are so many of us who long to be a part of the wider landscape but the goings on in Kashmir for the past few decades had led to more and more isolation of the residents of Jammu & Kashmir… until August 2019, when Article 370 was abrogated. It will now be almost two years to that (in my opinion) momentous day and I feel it is in the best interest of Jammu & Kashmir that it happened.

As far as I can see, the ground reality has changed for the better. I now feel like part of a whole and hopefully it will change for other people as well. Identity of the residents of this region won’t be pigeonholed anymore. And it is not just about us Kashmiri Pandits (living in Jammu region) but also many Muslim friends of my father have mentioned how there seems to be more peace around, how the mahaul is more conducive for business and also tourism (of course once coronavirus is under strict control).

Pandita says ‘mahaul’ is more conducive for business and tourism now

The endless curfews, the looming shadow of when violence might erupt, suspension of internet… it was all beginning to take a toll on people who longed for normalcy. Instances of stone pelting have come down. And people have finally begun to listen to each other’s point of view. The communication breakdown that had happened is being repaired little by little. Earlier there was no possibility of having deep conversation with fellow Kashmiris on the matter of terrorism or even how the government was faring.

People would get defensive so quickly and a conversation would turn into an argument. All solutions begin with a conversation and now I feel people have begun to talk to each other a little more openly. I have also begun to worry less about my parents and other loved ones who live there, no matter which part of the country I am in.

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I believe Covid was also handled well because the Centre was in charge here. In fact there has been less corruption for the past two years as far as I can see. I last visited my family in November, 2019. After that the pandemic meant travelling has been difficult, but I have kept myself updated.

Also, the local leaders whose policies so far reflected only resistance have begun to think of cooperation (even if it is miniscule right now), I feel after they were arrested or put under house arrest.

I feel once the final creases are ironed out (like the restoration of statehood, elections), Jammu & Kashmir will truly be on the path of development. The Taliban’s advancement in Afghanistan has rung bells of concern for the subcontinent, but I believe that the strong leadership of the current government will keep them at bay and Kashmir will truly flourish, even if it takes one baby step at a time towards the future.

As Told To Yog Maya Singh