What Do We Want?
Photo by Raman Raina
I am not someone who will go out with the crowd and shout slogans against the government and the terrorist turned politicians of Kashmir. I am not someone who helped in rebuilding the community other than trying to build my own life. I am a Kashmiri pundit who comes from a community of white collar workers and intellectuals, a community that has produced saints, doctors, engineers, writers, businessmen and top government officials. I am part of a community who with a centuries old traditions and culture has lost its homeland to Muslim extremism, and government neglect. I do not belong to a community who will take up arms to fight the evil and grab what was taken from us. So who am I and how am I going to get back what was forcibly taken from me. I turn to my elders and they advise me to forget about it and try to concentrate on my career and family life, but I ask my self is that what I really want and what do I want from my life. Yes I want a good career and a good family life but I also want my land and my roots back, I want to go back and see the beautiful surroundings again, breathe that fresh air and drink that life giving sweet water in the land of my ancestors, without any fear and repression.
If you look at the newspapers today and read about how my brothers and sisters are demonstrating for our cause and you will see that for a community of less than 300,000 we have array of organizations that are part of this fight. I realized if all the members of my community really wanted a solution to our problems we would not be broken down in to multiple organizations. We would sit down as a community and have a single umbrella organization that would not only fight our cause in India but worldwide. Take a look at the Kashmiri community in the US which has two organizations who do not see eye to eye and think that they are doing a better job that the other. Same is the case with the multiple organizations that we have in India. We as a community has to learn our lessons from the history, learn from Jews and Sikhs who had gone through worse and still come back as winners. I feel that the longer it takes for us to come together more difficult it becomes for us to go back and take what is ours. My 7 year old daughter has never seen Kashmir and when she grows up I don’t expect her to understand our community’s pains and our history and culture other than what I tell her. Same is the case with hundreds and thousands of children who were born in the last 18 years or were too young to remember the exodus. Once this generation grows up, we as a community is done for and our ancestral land is gone for ever.
A single umbrella organization is just the first step towards our goal. We have to use our strengths rather than our weakness to fight for our cause and that strength is education. We have to guide our younger generation and start working towards building our presence in the government, our community should flood the top posts in government whether it is IAS, IPS & IFS. We have to spend our money and time on building these warriors who will one day be so entrenched in the Government that we as a community will have the power to decide what we want. All the money that we are collecting for helping our community should be used with a lot of intelligence rather than emotionally. Free training and education for our youth who is the future of our community should be on top of our to-do list.
I find it strange that when the central government calls for a meeting on Kashmir issue there is not even a single organization of Kashmiri Pundits who represent the community at these meetings. In the end it is the terrorists and communal politicians who decide what happens to our land, and all we do is shout slogans at Jantar Mantar and the secretariat in Jammu or at a terrorist turned politician who is invited as a chief guest to some movie show in Delhi. Once the new generation comes of age we will have lesser and lesser people attending these demonstrations and in the end our community will get lost in the sea of communities in India and worldwide. We will lose our unique culture and our will to get back to our roots. I am writing this because this is a big concern for me as I see my daughter, niece and nephews growing up without a clue of who we actually are and where we come from.
It is time for us to come together as a community and leave our differences at home and plan the future of our community and write our destiny. It is time to stop being a cranky (Kaekh) Butta and think without prejudice and embrace the community as our own family. I have an example here which I would like to share with you. When I came to the US I wanted to be a part of one of the KP organization and I did write to so called moderators of this organization, I was told that I had to prove my credentials so as to be a part, leave alone help the community. I am not writing this because I was hurt and I want to get back, but I am writing this because this incident proved to me what I already knew was wrong with our approach in handling the crisis situation that our community is going through.
*Manish Aima was born in Srinagar on 5th March 1971 to Dr. R.L. Aima & Shmt. Shanta Aima (Wali), B.E. Mechanical from MIT Manipal 1993 with 14 + years of corporate experience in India and abroad. Presently living in Houston with wife Jassi and 8 year old daughter Isha.
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thanks manish for such a nice article. it is really very heart paining to loose our ancestral land as it is heading towards that slowly.at least your article is a good inspiration for all those who have forgotten their roots.but my friend in my opinion it is too late to get it the way you suggested.because everybody is opting for abroad due to lack of jobs and other aspects.first this has to be stopped.
Added By bupinder c
Dear Bupinder Ji Thank you I really appreciate the fact that you liked my article. Our aim is to get back to our roots, so I don't agree with your point that we are opting to go abroad, I feel that in the bigger picture NRI pandits are in a position to play a major role in mobilizing the world opinion about our plight.All the more reason for us to unite and have a strategy in place.
Added By Manish Aima
This is the agony of every Kashmiri Pandit's soul that has resulted from the rabid onslought of Muslim fundamantalism in the charming valley of Satisar.We seem to have lost all our moorings by this trauma.
Added By pushkar ganjoo
Dear Manish, you have written hard fact and this what is prevailing in Kashmir for the last six decades.In fact is all political games and common people are suffering...I am also a writer from chandigarh who writes in Punjabi. my facebook id is govardhangabbi
Added By Govardhan Lal Kaushal