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Kashmiri Pandits: The Disavowed Citizens
The ethereal issue of over seventy thousand displaced families of the Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir valley since 1989, which surfaced due to intense Pakistan sponsored militancy in the valley is hanging in balance since last 25 years. The issue is still unresolved and the Hindu Kashmiri citizens are living as refugees in their own country.

The migration of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley was biggest exudes after partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947. The successive governments beginning from the government of V.P. Singh, under whose government the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits took place on January 19,1990, the issue was attempted merely as a political issue rather than taking long lasting tough administrative measures to mitigate the real cause of mass migration Kashmiri Pandits and facilitating their return to the valley.

Neither government of V.P. Singh nor of Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government could dare to challenge Pakistan sponsored and trained militants and resorted to soft options of providing temporary shelters and employments to some Kashmiri Pandits outside the valley.

Of late, some nigh hopes of resolving long standing issue of return of Kashmiri Pandits to their homes in the Kashmir valley have started emerging at the national scene. Initially before the commencement of general elections 2014, Narendra Modi as BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate raised the issue in his over six months long tour of the country and in his public rallies, asserted that sufferings of Kashmiri Pandits cannot be ignored and he declared to make necessary steps for their safe returns to the valley if his party came to the power.

Later, on April 7, 2014 when BJP released its manifesto for 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Party promised for the safe return of displaced Kashmiri Pandits to the "land of their ancestors" with full safety and dignity and were also assured of livelihood after their return to the valley.

Subsequently, President Pranab Mukherjee, in his address to the both houses of the Parliament on June 9, 2014, reiterated Modi government's commitment for the return of Kashmiri Pandits to their homes and declared it as a priority area for the government. Since the formation of the Modi government, although noting substantial has emerged from the state and central government sides on this issue, but certain measures by the state and central governments for the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the valley are in offing.

Prior to the beginning of extreme insurgency in the Kashmir valley in late 1980s, Kashmiri Pandits were a dominant Hindu community of the Jammu and Kashmir state. Kashmiri Pandits, since ages, have a checkered history and they have enjoyed a special and privileged place in the socio-economic polity of the state.

Basically a Brahmin community and ardent followers of Lord Shiva, Kashmiri Pandits earned their surname as 'Pandits' from Akbar due to their intelligence and academic excellence. It was during Akbar's era when Kashmiri Pandits were allotted property and provided government jobs in Kashmir. Subsequently, Kasmiri Pandits succeeded in establishing themselves in Rajput, Mughal and Dogra courts respectively even outside the valley also.

The partition of the Indian-subcontinent in 1947 brought a great set-back to the Kashmiri Pandits. Prior to the Muslim riots and partition of the country, Kashmiri Pandits constituted about 15 percent of the total population in the Dogra regime in the valley. Then anti HIndu violence led to the large exudes of Kashmir Pandits from the valley and over 25 percent of the their total population fled from the valley and mostly settled in Allahabad, Lucknow, Indore, Jalandhar, Jodhpur, Jammu and Delhi.

Even before the partition of India, some families of the Kahsmiri Pandits had migratedfrom the valley, mainly to the North India for better education and job prospects as well as earning more respectable livelihood. However, despite living outside Kashmir, Kashmiri Pandits kept their social and ethnic bonds and values intact and formed various welfare associations in this regard and succeeded in maintaining their entity and exclusive identity too.

Kashmiri Pandits, who choose to stay back in Kashmir valley after the partition were living in unison with their Muslim fellows without any communal demeanor till 1989 when over three lakh Kashmiri Pandits, believed to be 90 percent of the Hindu population living in the Muslim majority areas of the Kashmir valley were forcibly pushed out of the valley by Pakistan trained militants under 'Ethnic cleansing' process launched by the terrorists.

The Pakistan sponsored terrorism against Kashmiri Pandits not only pushed lakhs of Hindus outside the valley but terrorists also resorted to killings, violence, looting and burning of Hindu proprieties and other types of physical atrocities.

According to a fact sheet on atrocities on Kashmiri Pandits, brought out by 'Kashmir Information Network' following militancy against Kashmiri Pandits, hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits were killed, about 95 percent of their houses were looted, more than 20,000 houses were burnt, over 20,000 agriculture dependent families were deprived of their land and source of income and 103 and 105 Hindu temples and educational institutions were destroyed respectively by the militants.

Following it, the mass migration of Kashmiri Pandits took place and they were accommodated in nine main camps in Jammu and fourteen camps in around Delhi by the government. However, it is estimated that presently about 3,400 Kashmiri Pandits are still living in Kashmir.

Since forcefully migration of Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir valley in 1989, a number of Kashmiri welfare organisations are vocal for welfare and return of Kashmiri Pandits to their homeland.

However, even after 25 years of vigorously advocating the legitimate causes of Kashmiri Hindus, they did not succeed in eliciting desired results from the state and central governments. Some of such prominent a political Kashmiri organizations are viz; Panun Kashmir, Joint Human Rights Committee for Minorities in Kashmir, Kashmiri Overseas Association, New York.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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