Views from Srinagar
S. S Qadri
AMID the pain and agony Kashmir is going through, there is a debate going on as to who has suffered more, ‘Kashmiri Pandits’ or ‘Kashmiri Muslims’. Amazingly, nobody is talking about the ‘Kashmiris’ and the discussion is set out at a time when deaths and destruction have whelmed the atmosphere in the valley. To cast the matters in the dye of religion is actually something that paints the cloaks of those who do so for their personal myopic gains. This aspect, nonetheless, is the result of long standing misunderstanding stocked up over the years between the communities, each blaming the other for crises they respectively are into. But the issues are exasperated and driven to the filthy corners by some xenophobic zealots with their uncalled-for offensive pricks while Kashmir is grieving and seething under the buildup pain.
Those who wilfully rake up unwarranted issues at the times that demand empathy and compassion, the times when dousing the flame would serve instead of fanning the fires, the times when the families receive body bags of their loved ones, the times when hospitals are crammed with injured people, the times when anti-establishment emotions are rife, cannot be representatives of either of the communities.
These self-proclaimed representatives have either been living in foreign lands or have settled long back in the metropolitans and are now skillfully assimilating the benefits under the carpet by exploiting the emotions of those who they claim to represent. These are the people who derive sadistic pleasure from the pain and sell this pain by weaving lies and squashing the truth under their heels.
The drum beating of a few unfortunate ‘Pandit killings’ back in 90’s are being associated with the exodus of the community without realizing that the killings of ‘Kashmiri Muslims’ during those days far outnumbered the killings of Kashmiri Pandits. The number comparisons, however, cannot justify the killings of Pandits, but the comparison needs to be drawn to quell the notion that there were target killings to drive the community away. The Sikh community and many Pandits who preferred staying back are testimony to the fact that the coercive migration as being portrayed is too far from the truth. A few perverted minds who sell hatred cannot be taken as the voice of the ‘Pandit community’ like a few aberrations back in 90’s cannot color the whole ‘Muslim community’ black.
Need is to remind them about the hospitality of Muslims when the community visit ‘Kheer Bhavani’. Not even a single Pandit has ever been harassed or intimidated not to talk of any physical harm. They come, they visit their Muslim friends and neighbors, share good moments, joys and sorrows without any fear or prejudice. Pandits who live in Kashmir would narrate the kind of support from their Muslim neighbors at times of their grief and joy. Muslim neighbors shoulder the palanquin (doli) of their daughters and coffins of their dead ones. They lit the ‘pyres’ and their ‘marriage fires’ and none of these pseudo sympathizers do ever care for them not to talk of highlighting these aspects. Over the years there has not been a single incident in Kashmir to harm ‘Amarnath yatris’. Have they wondered why? In fact whenever there had been trouble they were fed, cared, medicated and escorted to safer places by Muslims in the valley. Such is the secular character and the ‘Kashmiriyat’ inspired spirit of Kashmiri Muslims. And the same ‘Kashmiriyat’ driven disposition of Kashmiri Pandits is something one would brag about. Majority of the Kashmiri Pandits do feel the pain of their Muslim counterparts stuck in trouble in the valley. There are those who sign petitions to restore peace. There are those who come forward to offer their blood. There are some doctors who offer help at the time of crisis in the valley hospitals. There are those who call from outside to enquire about the wellbeing of their Kashmiri friends and neighbors. There are those who oppose the lies being perpetuated by the enemies of ‘Kashmiriyat’. These are the people who actually represent the ‘Pandit community’.
There was a picture of mutilated pandit bodies of 1990’s on the twitter uploaded by Anupam Kher. Appreciated, but did Mr. Kher, being the responsible citizen at the same time care to upload the picture of ‘Amarnath Yatris’ who met with an accident at Bijbehara and the locals defying curfew rescued them, moved them to hospital, supported them emotionally and financially.
Let me remind him, Bijbehara is the same place where just few hours back seven civilians had lost their life and these locals were grieving over the dead bodies of their sons when the accident took place. Did he post the image of the old couple, again defying curfew, carrying the sack of grains on their shoulders crossing Jhelum on the sos call from their Pandit friend living across the river who because of the curfew in the area had nothing to eat? Did he care to upload the picture of a six year old girl who was playing with her dolls in her room when she was hit by pellets and would not be able to see the world ever? Did he upload the picture of the wailing mother who was brushing the hair of her dying son outside the operation theatre? Did he upload the picture of ‘tear drops’ of a father falling on the face of his dead son? Did he upload the shrouded bodies lined up for a joint funeral? No, because the blinkered vision can only see what the biased mind wants to see.
What did he intend? Justify the fresh spree of killings in Kashmir with the old wounds of Pandits? Grow up Mr. Kher and ilk, you are harming Pandits more than anyone else. When Kashmiri Muslims are desperate to see their Pandit brothers living peacefully in their neighborhood, people like you instil venom against them in the minds of masses in Kashmir as you are supposedly, though not actually, portraying their mindset.
[The writer is a post-graduate in Management Studies from the University of Kashmir]