It took 32 years and a movie to awaken a nation of 130 crores from a long deep slumber, that there had been a genocide, an exodus and displacement of huge number of families and untold misery of the Kashmiri Pandits, a sect of Kashmiri Bramhins
Why it happened, in whose regime it happened or how it could have been avoided or stopped is not to be debated now. That it happened and we are all responsible directly or directly for the suffering of our brethren Kashmiri Pandits is a fact that cannot be wished away. Why were there only subdued voices of support to these pundits, why wasn’t there any mass movement against those untold atrocities , why did political class irrespective of parties keep the issue under wraps , why wasn’t it debated openly and why wasn’t the voice of these people not heard for so long.
Where was the fourth pillar of democracy, the Press. They find time and energy to discuss, debate and inflate trivial matters, then why was their voice feeble during this genocide or even after it for three decades, these are the questions we should be asking today. Are we one nation, if so why is it that the Mumbai riots, bombings, and terrorist attacks find mention and swift counter action but the Kasmiri Pandits are left to fend for themselves. As a nation somewhere, somehow the connect needed is sadly missing.
Early 1990 the genocide,murder, rape and purge of the hindu minority in Kashmir began. So any person , who is 32 years as of today wasn’t yet born then. Those children who exited Kashmir then and we’re below 10 years of age ate today in their late thirties or early forties . How much they remember is not known, but no child perhaps would forget the gory scenes witnessed by them in those tender years. Those in their teens bore the brunt with their parents and grandparents, they are today in their early fifties. They saw it, experienced it, they will never forget. Those adult parents in their twenties and thirties are nearing their sixties , they bore the brunt, carrying their children and parents to safety through shelters and camps to resettle in other states. Some lost their old parents during this journey, some their children, yet others lost their own lives to terrorist as they tried to flee the situation. They were forced out of their homes, their homeland by the terrorists and Muslim seperatists, a weak government and an ineffective governor, an unresponsive press and a nation that didn’t bother to be on their side actively.
The senior citizens who managed to get out of Kashmir then are perhaps long dead, the survivors in their eighties or nineties rueing their bad luck, cursing the separatists who forced them out of their home lands.
For 32 years these people have faced untold misery, some sympathy here and there , practically no empathy, yet these strong minded but mild and gentle folk who had lost everything , resettled at various locations across India. At many places the local folk did extend a helping hand to enable these refugees in their own country to start life afresh. These brave hearts kept their sorrows to themselves , helped each other and slowly endeared themselves to the local citizens where they settled. Some took up jobs, some went into small businesses, students restarted their schooling with some help from the local authorities. Their sufferings were never discussed, they kept the dark stories to them selves, a few people tried to probe into their past with some success, a few books got written on their sad journey and experiences, but it never actually reached the masses . Surely we are to blame, how could we not understand their suffering, a few hundred rupees given as a contribution to help these stranded Kashmiri brethren and we thought we had done our bit. We failed to question the successive governments, we failed to highlight their sufferings, we failed as a nation to come to the rescue of these Kashmiri Pundits. NGO’s and other organisations did make feeble attempts to make the Kashmiri voice be heard, but in the din of our political system and an unwilling press, they were hardly heard.
Three decades passed by, they had become a forgotten lot, no one cared as to what we could do for them, governments promised packages, promises to get them back to their homeland, nothing actually materialised. Whenever packages are given, it must be understood that hardly anything actually reaches the beneficiary, similarly the hundreds of crores that were supposed to be spent on getting these Pandits back to their homeland, have surely been pocketed by the smart guys along the line, what will ever reach them will not even suffice to buy tissue paper or handkerchiefs to wipe their tears
Then came the movie, “The Kashmir files”..well researched,studied and presented. It captured the minute details of the genocide and suffering. Old wounds reopened, bleeding again, all those alive today of those lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits at last had a voice. The new generation of Indians who were oblivious to these stories and facts are shocked. How could this happen in their India. It was unacceptable, the movie is getting rave reviews, excellent. Suddenly again India is one…..all are grieved , sympathy, empathy everything is back. All over social media, Instagram, Facebook, telegram, LinkedIn, Twitter is full of awe and shock. The movie has stirred the consciousness of all Indians, young and old, rich and poor irrespective of religion and caste. People are crying openly at the theatres, all walking out are teary eyed and full of new found determination that the Kashmiri Pandits need to be given back their homes, they should be compensated for all their losses and mental agony.
The new India is with the pandits, the government should take note of it and take immediate and persuasive measures to give them back their paradise. Let’s keep politics aside, let all political parties take a simple stand that this issue needs to be resolved at the earliest and let’s hope and pray such an incident never ever occurs again anytime, anywhere in India or in this world.