ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Reclaiming Kashmiriyat

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Kashmir, which is known as paradise on earth, has now become synonymous with death, destruction and genocide. The composite culture of the people, known as Kashmiriyat represents the synthesis of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islamic teachings. It not only functioned as a social space for intercommunity interactions, but also as a value that broadened the Hindus’ and Muslims’ horizon of intercommunity tolerance and coexistence in Kashmir. But, the cataclysm that visited Kashmir in the early 1990s hurt the society so deeply that the wounds are yet to heal. While militancy heralded the promise of freedom for some, for others it was a bonfire that burned away their hopes, dreams, and futures. Of the latter predicament, there is no greater marker than the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley. After the 1989 armed conflict in Kashmir, the place became unsafe to live for many communities, and they consequently left the Valley. The Kashmiri Pandits migrated to Jammu, Delhi and other parts of the country, where most of them settled in relief camps esta­blished by the government, but suffered from the agonies of exile. Both communities, which were once living in harmony, started blaming each other. Therefore, Kashmiri society has been forced to articulate the two competing narratives of victimhood and suffering: one, by the Pandits of their exile, and the other, by the Muslims of their oppression and bloodletting by the Indian armed forces. It has been unfortunate that even today we ask questions such as: Which community suffered the most? Whose narrative has more weight and which tragedy is greater? Both the communities need to look at the events that surrounded the Pandit exodus without any blinkers of political expediency and self-serving ideological stands. Any discourse that blames either community for the wrongs suffered by each is inimical to reconciliation and will not only increase alienation between communities, but also lead to their further victimisation.

Successive governments at the union as well as the state levels have been serious about resettling and rehabilitating the displaced community back in Kashmir. For this, a variety of measures have been taken over the years by means of financial assistance, relief and other initiatives. Transit accommodations have been made by the government in various districts of the Valley for displaced Pandits, but it has been criticised by the people in Kashmir. So, it is the responsibility of the Kashmiri Muslims to convince their displaced Pandit neighbours to return and resettle. The Pandits also have to change their mindset in order to return. To let Kashmiriyat flourish, both the communities must live together as they used to.

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Updated On : 25th Jan, 2019

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