Organisations such as Panun Kashmir and Roots in Kashmir, demanding a separate homeland along the Jhelum river in Kashmir valley, through their hate campaigns, have only widened the gulf between the two communities.
While around 100,000 Pandits left the valley in 1990, most of them settled in the relief camps in Jammu, winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir. Many others travelled as far as Mumbai while the well-off families shifted to better localities in Delhi and elsewhere.
Though one can can understand the sufferings of a population who had to leave their home and hearth and brave scorching summer heat in the absence of even basic facilities, one would have expected that state and central governments came to their rescue – which surely they failed to do. Quite obvious, when people face such situations, radicalisation is sure to creep in, especially among the youth. And that could be the reason that many of trucelent Kashmir Pandits took the path of forming notorious groups such as Panun Kashmir and Roots in Kashmir, demanding that a separate home be provided to exiled Kashmir Pandits inside Jammu and Kashmir.
While the groups aimed at alleviating the sufferings of the exiled Kashmiri Pandits, they have unfortunately been only widening the gulf between the Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits by fuelling hatred through their activities that involve disrupting every forum where the Kashmir issue is being discussed. Such is their level of intolerance that they even take to violence to make sure that any pro-Kashmri activist is not allowed space to air his concerns.
No one can deny the fact that they suffered but their oppressors were the state and central governments that failed to protect them, not their Kashmiri Muslim brethren who have been praying for their return since 1990. Though the government has started a scheme, according to which 6000 Kashmiri Pandit migrants would be granted government jobs in Kashmir and in fact more than a thousands youth have already joined the services. Panun Kashmir along with other organisations criticised the initiative and many people who had not doubted their hate- propaganda before were convinced that they (Panun Kashmir) are no way working for the betterment and the return of Kashmiri Pandits to their homeland.
By awarding jobs to these migrants and preferring them over meritorious Kashmiri Muslims, government intended that the move will attract Pandits back to the valley. Obviously, the condition was that the migrants have to settle in the valley otherwise the whole purpose of alienating Muslim youth who had to brave bullets and blasts to reach their colleges, seems preposterous.
Pertinent to mention is that organisations like Panun Kashmir have been hurling vile abuses at separatist leaders like Syed Ali Geelani, and the interesting thing is that Pandits who were alarmed after threatening letters were issued by unknown people, which police called mischievous elements, approached the octogenarian Hurriyat leader. He along with Mirwaiz Umar Farooq assured the community of every possible help and protection.
21-year-old Zahid Shafi, a Srinagar resident, said that Panun Kashmir has only been able to deepen the divide between two communities which have co-existed peacefully for centuries. “I have heard from my parents how important the Pandit community was for the Kashmiri society. He would tell me about his Pandit friends and he how had missed them all through these years of conflict. But when I get to read or watch the activities of Panun Kashmir, all the tales my father told me seem unfounded," said Shafi, adding, “Through their bigotry and hate campaign, they are only bringing a bad name to the entire community.”