The Kashmiri Pandits yearn to return to their Homeland
Chirag Thakkar | On 09, Jul 2018
The Kashmiri Pandits, after being exiled for close to thirty years, yearn to return to their homeland in the Kashmiri Valley.
The Kashmiri Pandits, who boast an incredibly influential and culturally important history, have existed for 5,000 years. They are known to be incredibly peaceful and kind individuals who enjoy rich and long-standing traditions. Unfortunately, starting in the middle of the twentieth century, they were forced out of their homeland and threatened by neighbouring groups. In modern times, their populace is a mere fraction of what it once was.
On the 18th of June of this year, a group of Kashmiri Pandits attempted to return to their homeland to build new lives. Though political parties, like the Bharatiya Janata Party who currently hold power, use the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits as part of their political platform, they are yet to receive any assistance from the government. Shobha Warrier, a member of the group of Kashmiri Pandits who attempted to return, explains that the hypocrisy of the government is proven by the simple fact that ‘nobody came to meet [them]’. What’s more, they found that the infrastructure was uninhabitable.
The region was entirely peaceful throughout history but, at this time, it lacks peace to a great extent. Shobha explains that, although ‘the local people… want the Kashmiri Pandits back’ it is not a ‘political wish’. In Warrier’s opinion, the government is tearing the region apart and making it almost impossible for their people to return for myriad reasons. First, they claim that ‘by militarising the area’ they will only be bringing ‘fear in the minds of the people’. Further, officials ‘do not respond’ to their requests for help despite claiming that they do care about the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits.
As the Kashmiri Pandits have resided in the region since ancient times, Shobha suggests that ‘only through Kashmiri Pandits [can you] bring peace to the state as nobody understands the state and the overall psychology of the people of Kashmiri better than the Pandits’. Considering their long history, this is undeniably true.
Though it might seem like both regaining their homeland and bringing peace to the area is a hopeless feat. Fortunately, organisations like the All India Kashmiri Samaj offer a glimmer of hope to the Pandits. They are attempting to garner more public attention for the issue at hand, pressuring the current government to offer compensation and providing better living conditions for migrant Pandits who are spread throughout India. If the citizens of India are made aware of the suffering of the Kashmiri Pandits, and more pressure is placed on the government to make good on their earlier promises, it is indeed possible that this mistreated and disenfranchised group could see a brighter tomorrow. After thirty long years, they deserve to feel at home.