Whither Kashmiri Pandits, Part-1 Click here
Whither Kashmiri Pandits, Part-2
(F) Mushroom Growth of Organisations
After partition of the country and installation of popular rule in J&K State the Kashmiri Pandits had been moving out of the Valley, slowly but steadily, to seek better avenues outside the State, and comparatively in a better social and political environment. But those who moved out would keep a good contact and liaison with the Valley, their relatives, friends, the local Muslim population and so on. There was no ill feeling or bitterness on any account at the social level. Relation at both the levels inter – community as well as intra-community level were healthy and cordial. And the two sections of the K.P. community, those in the Valley and those who would be moving out would not normally interfere or bother too much about each other, as both sections were comparatively happy and comfortable at their own places. So not much conflict.
If the militants would not have resorted to this gun culture in 1990 with horrible slogans against the community, a vast majority of the Kashmiri Pandits would have otherwise also moved out during these two decades as admission to professional courses was gradually getting reduced, avenues of employment gradually shrinking with political manipulations and due to other social and political factors which were bound to effect the future of the community in the Vally etc. However,in that case, probably there would not have such an open communal divide, and the community would not have been forced to sell its properties and an environment of cordial relations would have continued as in the past, though political differences would also exist, but these would not be so damaging, destructive and horrifying as these are today. Of course after the damage is done attempts are being made to mend the ways and bridge the gap . Let us hope for a better and healthy reunion. Better late than never.
Coming to the community affairs, it lived a comparatively peaceful simple life till 1990 when it was forced to leave. Prior to the present exile the community had the historical organization the All State Kashmiri Pandit Conference ( Shri Sanatan Dharm Yuvak Sabha) founded in 1930 or so ,with its Headquarters at Shrika Bhawan Sheelnath, Srinagar as its main social organisation with obvious political contours and manifestations when need would arise; though there were smaller sabhas and temple committees as well, at different headquarters, but all were directly or indirectly related with the activities of the ASKPC (SDYS) as the main representative body of the community It was also running a newspaper MARTAND, whose publication is presently suspended, but it is being said that its publication will be soon resumed. Hope so. It is presently functioning from Jammu.
The community had another social organisation named Sudhar Samiti, Chota Bazar, Srinagar which was concerned with the social and religious activities mainly. It is presently functioning from Durga Nagar Jammu
Then in 1984 another organization under the name of All India Kashmiri Pandit Conference was born. It is functioning from Delhi with a camp office at Jammu.
The Community has another organization at Jammu named Kashmiri Pandit Sabha Ambphalla. It was founded in 1914 with a limited aim to work as a meeting centre for the .K.P. Community members who would be moving to Jammu during winter months. It has done a lot of work for the community and is getting stronger day day.
Then the community had regional sabhas etc. in different states looking after the community interests in their respective regions.
At the national level the All India Kashmiri Samaj (AIKS) was founded in late 1970s. It has established its Headquarters at New Delhi. With affiliated units throughout the country and even abroad it is working hard to be an apex organisation of the community at global level It has also set up a Trust as ALL INDIA KASHMIRI SAMAJ TRUST, for the economic uplift of the community. It is which is working under a separate Board and has its own Constitution.
All have been functioning quite smoothly within their limited parameters and powers, though after exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits from the valley their activities have increased and even mode of working changed to some extent..
However after 1990 the whole scenario underwent a sea change . The community saw the birth of a new organization Panun Kashmir, with a definite political thought and slogan quite suitable to the occasion, but unfortunately after moving too fast it stumbled and hurt itself and broke into at least three factions all working separately and the slogan of a Separate Homeland having lost most of its sheen. May be it revives and functions effectively once again.
Then there has been a mushroom growth of smaller and bigger organizations forums, groups etc. under different names and banners. Each camp, each phase, each locality where the displaced are lodged has given birth to an outfit . Working on different parameters all these smaller or bigger forums claim to work for the community, but there is no coordination, and the community continues to live as refugees in its own land. There are camp and non-camp forums too One fails to understand what prompts every body to launch a new front, a new forum . What are the forces and compulsions for such a growth of community bodies. One can only pray that the community is not being used by some vested interests. The community leadership and each and every responsible member has to be vigilant about all such moves.
This mushroom growth of organizations at different levels without any real coordination is very damaging and harmful for the community. No upmanship will be helpful. Each and every time the community leadership talks of unity and unified action but at ground level there is very little meeting ground. This word unity has been deluding the community since long and is working only as a mirage. It was suggested several times that instead of talking about unity, let the leadership talk of a common minimum programme and work on that probably that itself may bring in some unity.
] Now some of the community activists have entered into a sort of cyber war. Those who are connected to the internet must be observing this cyber war which does not bode well. Some of them are fighting virtual enemies on the screen of a computer, without knowing and seeing the opponent physically, but the war is going on. It simply pains one to go through all this It is all a clash of egos and lack of rationality. Hope these cyber warriors will stop all this infighting for the sake of sanity. It is an appeal. We are very good fighters, but let this fighting spirit be reserved for future to fight the real enemy of the nation and which has thrown the community out, and not fight each other.
What is Needed
(a) Economic Independence
Notwithstanding the minority character of the community ( about which I am not writing here) due to its miniscule population, which is a serious cause for its suffering, the other main cause of our suffering is its economic dependence. So long as the community remains economically dependent and does not gain economic independence it cannot become a force and it will continue to suffer. If I am not misunderstood, Kashmiri Pandits were a victims of a sinister disinformation campaign that the community had usurped most of the government jobs (without analyzing the share of the community in business , trade, tourism and other commercial activities and so on) with the result that other communities had no chance to get in . The community became a special target of violence in Kashmir both for political , religious as well as bureaucratic reasons . Here the community cannot ignore that along with the K.Ps other Hindus ( non-K. Ps) and Sikhs too had to leave the Valley, but since these sections of society were comparatively economically quite impendent ,being in trade, business and transport etc. exodus did not become such a painful and troublesome experience for them for resettlement, as it became for the K. Ps. Being economically independent these non-K.P. displaced people gradually established themselves comfortably. Even those a few among the K. Ps who were economically independent , too did not undergo such a suffering or disturbance as the general masses. If the community has to rise and prosper it will have to make itself economically independent.
My experience in public life for the last over forty years tells me that the community needs a very sound and healthy economic base to be a force, a power.. A very strong base will make it a strong a political entity and then it will not have to think of any separate political party of its own, which can not obviously serve any purpose but only divide the community on the issue. If the community becomes economically very strong and powerful that itself will make the entire community a very strong political force and place it at such an advantageous position where, its voice will be heard and its views given due recognition and it can even dictate terms. Community leadership, organizations and individuals who can play any effective role in this direction must work out on this plan to give the community a very strong economic base . Obviously this cannot be achieved so long as the community moves in a fixed groove of service oriented , secured monthly fixed income mentality. The community has to be adventurous in economic field, take to business and other independent channels and not continue to the glued to the charm of an office chair with a service mentality as an employee with fixed salary. Why cannot the community leadership think of setting up big business houses to provide this strong economic base. There are enough community resources to create such business houses, and make community economically independent. To begin with, with all the resources available with the community it can easily set up a bank , a financial institution of its own but…. ? fear those who are sitting on these resources will not allow the community to touch their treasuries and enter their fiefdoms. Of course , there is a large number of K.Ps who have established themselves quite well in foreign countries. If only a few of them can come forward and invite some affluent K.Ps. from India to join them they can plan to lay such a strong economic base for the community which I have been advocating from time to time. Some one has to initiate the process. If a doctor from South can send his whole life’s savings amounting to $ 20 million to his native village, why cannot some quite well off Kashmiri Pandits living abroad and earning well think on these lines. Those K. Ps. connected with the economic field, industries ,trade, business and commerce can come forward , form an opinion group prepare a project report to give a practical shape to what I have expressed above. The community has to think of producing Birlas , Tatas, Ambhanis., Mittals and Singhanies and the like. They are the political power , political force today who virtually run the government, though without any separate political party of their own. Create this infrastructure then see the results. The community has to learn from Parsis on one hand and from the Jews on the other
This needs a strong leadership with a vision and potential ,capable of drafting plans and projects and taking definite decisions, which will not become a tool in the hands of political forces. Then a group of honest, dynamic , dedicated young men and women with a vision and confidence. The community has to develop a sense of integrity and self respect . and learn how to trust each other .
(b) Need for a Sense of Social Awareness and Responsibility
Along with this strong independent economic base there is a great need to create a strong social cohesiveness . How can this be created unless there is a feeling of concern. There is a great need to create a strong social awareness, community feeling ( not for political use), create a sense of social responsibility which we lack to a large extent at present. I am sorry to say our community members have been spending lavishly on marriages ( unfortunately liquor too is now served in such functions) without thinking its impact upon the total society, its ethical and moral values, and its effect upon the community especially the poor neighbour, relation, acquaintance who cannot exhibit such an expensive and lavish show of wealth. Surprisingly even on the occasion of death some people have been seen making these rites and rituals as well, too lavish and showy. Our lack of social awareness, lack of social responsibility or concern for others, even as simple human beings, is quite visible. Show of wealth by a selected section of community ( even if earned by honest means) does not bode well for the community. When I asked a newly married girl who was quite poor and had to borrow money or seek financial help for her marriage as to why she was wearing so much of gold and exhibiting it ( Lo ! she had quite a good lot on her body )and why her family had made very showy arrangements at the reception of barat with DJ music and variety of dishes (both Kashmiri as well as non-Kashmiri ) in a costly marriage hall when they could not afford it and the family had gone for loan/sought financial help from friends and relatives she retorted back by saying “ You rich men and big people feel jealous of a poor man doing all this and wearing of all the gold by a newly married woman, When you rich people will stop this show of ill gotten wealth, poor people will automatically follow. Poor people are forced to do what rich people are doing and follow them”. I felt somewhat hurt and told her “ Sorry, as you know I am not a rich man snd every rich man does not have only ill gotten money” and wanted to change the topic, but she wanted to speak something. “Yes, I know all rich speak like that”, and started talking a lot about rich people Though she was right to some extent in her observations and remarks, but it just pained me what she said, and in a fit of anger told her ut rich people do not take loan or seek financial help”. “Yes, that may be true , and why should they borrow, as they have enough ill gotten money” she said. Feeling somewhat uncomfortable , I did not want to enter into an argument and changed the topic. I leave it to the honorable reader to make his/her own judgment.
Introspection and self probing may help to save the situation to a large extent. Let each one of us realize that he is responsible for his behaviour. If each one of us tries to behave as socially responsible human beings at individual levels, society will automatically take care of itself because we are the society. Let each responsible member of the community ask himself/herself , question his/her own conscience as to how much responsible he/she feels towards others and even towards his /her own self, as each one is responsible for his/her behaviour.
Inter-caste marriages, divorces, lucrative jobs beyond the borders of the State or even abroad in a free, democratic , secular and secured environment coupled with the distress sale of properties , forgetting his mother tongue and absence of any serious effort by the government for his economic survival in the valley are some of the factors which are taking away a Kashmiri Pandit from his land. If his roots really call him back, then he has to pay due attention to the call and in the process obviously resolve all those issues which have come up and are taking him away from his roots. Having suffered very badly and sacrificed beyond measure he has to sacrifice more to reclaim his roots in the land of Kashyap Reshi.
If Kashmiri Pandits want and feel really serious ( not for political interests) that the community should survive and flourish then every individual member has to work silently and seriously at his/her own place in his/her own manner within his/her capacity to give a break to various disintegrating factors and keep a watch that the community is not exploited by vested interests working under different garbs.