Reinterpreting the Pandit Migration
By Junaid Wani
Kashmir from 1213-1236 was under the rule of king Raja Deva, whose hobby was to oppress the scholarly Pandits of valley. It is rather confusing as to why a king should oppress the Pandit scholars during a period which is mostly (though not accurately) called the Hindu period of Kashmir History. Similarly, King Harsh-Dev (1089-1101) is also known for his anti-Pandit strand in thehistory of Kashmir. Why Pandits were persecuted in their own land, by their co-religionist rulers needs an explanation.The most probable and plausible reason that scholars suggest for this prosecution is that the Kashmir Pandits haveremained a distinct group, different from other Kashmir’s inthe valley since times immemorial. Not only were they maintaining their distinct identity, but were also addicted to acting as parasites on their co-inhabitants and were more or less responsible for the deplorable condition of other common Kashmir’s. For a part of history they acted as powerful landlords in Kashmir during Lohara period, defying the royal authority, and by their constant revolts plunged the country into confusion. Life and property were not safe, agricultural produce declined, and there were periods when thetrade came to a standstill, thesocio-cultural and moral fabric of societyhad sunk the country to the depths of degradations. However, with coming of Islam, the Kashmiris became vocal enough to stand against the coercion.But this breeze of salvation was short enough and was ended by theruleof benevolent Zain ul Aabideen “Badshah” (A.D. 1420-1470). Dole addicted Pandits again rose to the control ofadministration inKashmir. In Badshahs period these Pandits transformed themselves from priestly class to feudal class. Those who were fed on the dole’s and presents of their followers became the landlords overnight. This continued during the rule of Sikhs, whom they have maligned beyond proportion now in their history books. During Sikh and Dogra rule they took advantage of Sikh and Dogra enmity to Muslims and became ruthless exploiters.Muslims were relegated to serve mere tillers of land and their pathetic condition has been pitiably pictured by Walter Roper Lawrence in his book “The Valley of Kashmir”. Even the religious places of Muslims, who represented more than 90% of population were transformed into go downs. Therefore, in spite of being in Kashmir, Kashmiri Hindus (Hindus, not as the term in its totality but only section of Kashmir’s who locally were called Bhatta’s)maintained themselves as a distinct group and remained an alienated lot. This is testified by the fact that even now their dress code, their eating habits and their wedding ceremoniesare different from the other Kashmir’s. They don’t wear the pheran but prefer the Saari; they don’t read Urdu but prefer Hindi. This made them aliens in their own land and created a gap between Pandits and other Kashmir’s. However in everyday life we come across hundreds of instances where a Pandit poses more trust in a Kashmiri Muslim, but all this is experienced in individual behaviour of a Kashmir Pandit which is based on their conscience and experience, but in their collective efforts they are governed by dictates of S P Mukherji of RSSor for that matter Jagmohan Malhotra,the former controversial Governor of J&Kor H N Jatoo, a Pandit leader who made up their mind to migrate en-mass from Kashmir in 1990. In the transition and transformation of Kashmiri Bhatta into ‘’Hindus of Akhand Bharat’’,the role of leaders was perhaps most important. Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz asked them to evade this disastrous path. But there was no one to heed him & instead Pandits conspired against him and he was expelled from Kashmir by Sheikh Abdullah led government.
The Kashmiri Pandits have always been hard of hearing, dyslexia, perverse, autistic & obtuse. The history has proved their impulsive nature. History has proved them to be chumps and patsy. It’s a matter of fact that they have been the ruling elite of valley. Land lordship was their exclusive domain and when the land reforms took place in Kashmir in post-1947 period these Pandits got alienated. Instead of reconciling with the new realities they tried to block the march of history. Failing to check the tide of events they migrated to India under the illusion that they can maintain their overlordship in India on tenants of their own religious community. Right from 1947, they have been migrating to different states of India in search of green pastures and Jagmohan’s rule witnessed the climax of this historical so called ‘forcible exodus’ which it never was.Regrettably, the Pandits are resorting to theold habit of acampaign of vilification against Muslims of thevalley. They are creating false stories of loot, rape and arson as justification for their migration. And now for every single Burhan Wani or Asiya and Nelofar and those Desdemona’s of Kunan Poshpora, there are two KashmiriPandit panellists on Times Now and Zee News with their voices high to blame the Kashmir’s for being victims of self-constructed primary contradiction and confusion. For a nation who has lost a hundred thousand of its young men to thebarbaric and ruthless occupation- the moral sermons of those historical villains adds salt to the wounds. Those who did not accept the process of social churning that has frozen their avenues of exploitation, now they are trying to play the cards of the lost tribe and ethnicity. Now they are using the slogans of ‘AE ZALIMO AE KAFIRO KASHMIR HAMARA CHOR DO’ as the cause of their migration. The present colonies of Pandits in Delhi-Jammu and Haryana were created prior to 1989 when the slogans of Azadi were yet to echo the streets of Kashmir.They migrated to the oasis when the young former Burhans and Ishfaq Majeed’s and Salahuddin’swere yet to ramble the streets of the Valley. It was not the forcible exodus, it was the search for heaven, search for luxuries, and search for tenants of will in theland of their co-religionists. The government report states that 219 pundits have been killed in valley. It’s interesting to note that when Sikhs were massacred in Delhi- almost around 3000 , in November 1984, their refugee camps were not made in Punjab or for that matter in Haryana or utter Pradesh, but made in Delhi itself. In Kashmir, 219 Pundits were killed. They (Sikhs) were not asked to leave Delhi. In the same manner refugee camps for Kashmiri Pandits could have been made in the valley itself under the protection of armed forces. But Jagmohan purposely took out Kashmiri Pandits out of the valley in order to communalise the situation. Military trucks were sent to take them out of the valley in the name of protection. His modus operandi in J&K in spoiling the situation due to which more and more Kashmiri youths were driven to militancy which eventually grew stronger and (Jagmohan) was removed within 6 months or so from thegovernorship of J&K. Jagmohan is more responsibleh for the migration of the Kashmiri Pandits than any other force or entity. Indian communal press made false propaganda and also said that Hindu temples were destroyed by the militants in Kashmir. B.G.Verghese on behalf of Press Council of India investigated this propaganda in 1990 and found that not a single Hindu temple had been destroyed. Temples still exist in the valley. Even though the Kashmir’s don’t need to prove their religious temperament to the world, still the biggest proof of their respect for religious sentiments of others can be gauged from the fact that Amarnath Board formulated in recent past,prior to which, it were the Muslims of valley who used to take care of this religious site, even during the turbulent nineties
In her book ‘Kashmir – A tragedy of errors’, Tavleen Singh writes: In Sopore’s main bazaar, the group of youth who were acting as my guides, introduced me to a Hindu shopkeeper named Jai Kisen who told me nervously that most of the Hindus had left in the dead of night at Jagmohan’s(the then governor of JK) behest but that he did not feel the need to go, because he did not think he was in any danger from his Muslim neighbours”. The matter of the fact is that if the Pandits now are suffering presently outside Kashmir, who is to be blamed ? A Kashmiri Muslim who even in 2017 fails to understand that why his brethren desertedhim ,or to another Kashmiri to whom everything is trivial and brotherhood is important .But, unfortunately, the Kashmiri Muslim needs to understand the mentality of exoded ones.InApril 1990, the noted Civil Liberties Activist, Justice V. M. Tarkunde presented a report on the Kashmir situation and recorded his impressions thus: “Hindus have received full cooperation from the local Muslims. The Muslims shared their rations and their other items of the day-to-day requirements with them. There is total communal harmony in Kashmir. Those people who had come out had either over-reacted to the situation or had done so because of certain other reasons which could be winter, curfew or closure of offices and educational institutions. Not a single case of looting or arson of non-Muslim property had taken place. It needs no explanation that Pandit’s as a community have always stood against the well-being of Muslims of thevalley. As a community, they stood against the Glancy commission (1932) that was to look into the grievances of Muslims . They aligned with the Dogra autocrats when it came to reforming the Muslims economically and instead,launched Roti Agitation. By virtue of their religious similarity,common interests and deep abiding sense of loyalty,Kashmiri Pandits were identical with government. Jammu massacre of 1947 was the result of their antipathy for the Muslims of J&K who by virtue of their fundamental right wanted to accede to Pakistan. They were not ready to digest the elevation of those whom they have exploited for centuries. The emergence of Muslim middle class was not acceptable to thembecause they were not ready to rub their shoulders with those whom they have been riding for centuries,so they conspired against sheikh and got him arrested, after his land distribution plan under Naya Kashmir manifesto.The economic blockade of 2008 by the Pandits of Jammu needs no explanation and elaboration. And when Kashmir’s collectively rose against India for therealisation of Right to Self-determination, the Pandits could not digest it again andmigrated enmasse, to be used as the home crafted beating stick to berate, torment and insult the people of Kashmir every single time they rose in defiance against occupation and oppression.
The future of Kashmir Pandit community lies in marking thebreak with the process of over Indianising themselves, and once again making a comeback to Kashmiri mainstream. They need to understand that it’s not possible to manage monopoly over thehigh position in the21st century as competition is the reality of this era. They need to understand that for theexistence of a KashmiriPandit,Kashmir is the only place with theconducive atmosphere for survival. Pandits should decide it now, whether they wish to serve as the beating sticks of India , to be used to beat Kashmiri or if they are to join their Kashmiri brethren in their struggle for freedom from India.
*Author is a post gradute student at Department of Biochemistry, AMU, Aligarh with intrest in Politics and Science. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.