The title shall raise many eyebrows within and without the Kashmiri Pandit Community. But it summarizes the Fact and Truth of my community’s existence since January 19, 1990. The pain of being in that state of existence cannot be wholly and comprehensively described in words yet an attempt to do so may be worthwhile. An attempt has been made in the following lines to justify the new label (noun) for my community.
The Pain of it
The intellectuals, philosophers and the theoreticians are gifted with the art of making the subject incomprehensible to a layman (a person gifted with ordinary common sense) but the one who has suffered the indignities associated with debasement is gifted with art of putting it in very simple words. Two examples in support of the above would suffice.
- Post genocide of my community those working in Public Sector Units in Kashmir were relocated to different places in India. One of them, from the many I had interacted with told me, "There is nothing common between me and the locals in this place. Language is different. The food habits are different. The culture is different. There is nothing that may integrate me with the local society. There is nothing that I can identify myself with".
- There was this foreign team of psychologists that specialized in trauma cases which visited Muthi Camp in Jammu. The team had a long interactive session with the camp dwellers and made notes for a possible publication in a reputed journal. When the team was on the way out, an elderly person stopped them to ask if their mission was over and the response was 'Yes'. Then, this elderly person told them, "What you are seeing here is Aurangzeb Ka Khawab". They asked, "What does that mean?". He replied, "Aurangzeb wanted to cleanse Kashmir of Pandits so that he may succeed in causing mass scale conversions in India. What he couldn’t achieve the Muslims in Kashmir have".
No man of letters can describe the pain better than the simple language of the two laymen who had experienced the trauma of expulsion from land of their birth and cultural heritage.
The Pain of Acculturation
The process of acculturation has been defined to be of four types like: 1) Assimilation, 2) Separation, 3) Integration, and 4) Marginalization.
The NRKI community chose Integration also called Biculturalism for survival. For, the community chose to adopt the cultural norms of the host culture to the extent it could while maintaining their culture of origin to the extent it could. So, one came across members of NRKI observing Thursdays as fasting days, worshipping Santoshi Mata as one of their Goddesses and not eating non-vegetarian on the occasion of Shivaratri, etcetera, etcetera. The latter they did for not annoying and hurting the sensibilities of the adherents of host culture. While making collective efforts to build its own temples for the Goddesses it worshipped in Kashmir because of the intrinsic faith in them, yet visits to the temples of new place of residence were not shunned. Those who chose to maintain the tradition of making non-vegetarian dishes on Shivaratri festival did so with adequate caution to ensure that neighbour is not intimidated; so, the cooking was to be done at a time it wouldn’t be noticed and that its fragrance wouldn’t go outside the house.
A feature of the host culture that was adopted was to hold Reception for relatives and friends post completion of Vedic Rites in a marriage ceremony instead of following the tradition of organizing “Ghar Achun” for the in-laws of son or daughter or both in which relatives and very close friends of the host family were also invited. The purpose of it all was to get acquainted with the relatives of either daughter-in-law or son-in-law or both, as the case may have been. One reason for adoption of this host culture could be that in the new places of their residence the house accommodation was not as large as to accommodate all the guests and so the Hotel remained the only option. It could be also due to the reason that the members of NRKI wanted to demonstrate to the locals that they, indeed, were not different from them. But what it essentially did was to deprive this function of the organic connect between the host and the guests. For, it makes a huge difference when the family members of the host are serving the guests and when the hotel waiters are. Certain courtesies take leave and a level of indifference creeps in. It gets as mechanical as it can. To cite many more examples is beyond the scope of this paper.
The most difficult part in this process of acculturation is to either learn the language of the locals or depend on another language that is understood by the people of the host culture. So, while mother tongue is used at home, outside home it is of no use. And, to be unable to express in one’s mother tongue in the outside world is the immeasurable pain that one endures and in addition to the pain, it becomes a greatest impediment in true integration with the local society. One always remains an outsider despite one’s achievements in the material world. No matter what kinds of praises may be sung for "diversity", alienation of mother tongue snatches one’s identity.
NRKI: Why this Classification?
It differentiates between the exiled Kashmiri Pandit Community (KPC) and India. It’s on par with NRIs who live in countries other than India. The difference being that NRIs may or may not choose to retain their Indian citizenship whereas the KPC chooses to retain its Indian citizenship in absence of any alternative. The other difference is that while NRIs may return to India of their own free will the NRKI can’t return to Kashmir of their own free will to the places where they once belonged.
In the US, the distinction between the original settlers and the migrants remains as the latter are called African-American, Indian-American, Arab-American, etc. Implying that complete Integration is not possible. Similarly the successive Governments of India and the associated political spectrum from Right to Center to Left have by their atitude towards our Genocide leading to exile from Kashmir have proven beyond debate that KPC is not integral to India. So, that day may not be far off when KPC shall be publicly designated as KP-Indian while, as on date, it’s being communicated to us indirectly. Like, if an Indian doesn’t take US citizenship, then he/she foregoes certain privileges as available to American citizens, similarly the KPC doesn’t enjoy all the safeguards as guaranteed under Constitution of India and its Directive Principles. Like, the KPC is not supposed to have any Human Rights (like the slaves in medieval times); no culture of its own; no religion and no Gods and Goddesses and their places of worship, of its own; no belief system of its own. The KPC is ordained by the powers to be to submerge in the "diversity" of India forsaking its own identity. To strengthen this, off-late the Pandits are being addressed to as Hindus.
What is the basis for the above thesis?
Here are the facts for the above thesis and the Truth of this Nation called India.
First and foremost is the denial of genocide by all the successive governments and political leadership of all hues. It implies that the KPC is a tradable commodity that is tradable in exchange for retaining the piece of land called Kashmir. If the genocide is acknowledged then its perpetrators would be antagonized and they being a majority and led by a political and religious leadership which believes in Two Nation Theory and an Islamic State would be injurious to the integrity of India. The present dispensation in Kashmir is assiduously working towards complete Islamization of Kashmir. Therefore, if a limb of “Bharat Mata” is to be retained then KPC is a sacrificial goat on the altar of Nationalism and Patriotism.
The consequence of this inhuman intent is that no elected Parliament since 1990, irrespective of the political outfit backing it, thought it prudent to discuss the reasons that led to our genocide and exile. No politician raised a point of order in the Parliament to discuss the exodus of KPC and devise ways and means to restore status-quo-ante as obtained prior to 1986 Anantnag riots. No elected State Assembly of the erstwhile J&K state ever discussed the means to restore status-quo-ante as obtained prior to 1986 Anantnag riots. Nor has the LG of the J&K UT ever discussed it with the local politicians or with the KPC leadership. On the contrary the LG put the Muslims and Pandits in the same bag when he talked about "violence" in Kashmir.
Post delimitation process Assembly Constituencies were reserved for Gujjar and Bakarwal community, but no constituency was reserved for the KPC in Kashmir.
The assertion of the extant GOI and its political leadership including their mentor the RSS that the KPC is inconsequential in the overall Indian context became public when Sri Yasin Malik was convicted on charges of money laundering! Even though he is on record in his interview to the Door Darshan (DD) sometime in June 1990 on his killings of KP men and the rape and murder of KP women. There isn’t any better direct evidence of his crimes against humanity than his interview to the DD unless "secularism" compelled the DD to delete the video.
That the judiciary too is an accomplice in the game of politicians is evident from the fact of the SC having refused to entertain any petition from the KP organization seeking redressal for the barbarism inflicted on KPC in Kashmir.
And, now the unprecedented farce that the extant GOI has played on the KPC is that it has ordered investigation into the murder of Justice Ganjoo, after a lapse of 34 years! What about those unknown ones who were murdered and their bodies mutilated by the protagonists of Two Nation Theory and Islamic Nizam? What about those unknown faces who died of snake bites, depression, heat stroke and of the shock that they had been reduced to beggars from being a well to do individuals; while living in camps in remote places enduring the most unfavourable weather conditions? The gist of all this is that KP lives don’t matter because they are tradable.
In denial mode
Ironically there is a similarity between the KPC and those who committed genocide. The perpetrators of genocide are in denial mode for their act supported by the powers that be and so is the KPC in denial mode about the inhuman treatment meted out to it by the powers that be. There may be some voices raising issues with the powers that be, but a very vast majority is content with their contemporary state of existence. And, this attitude of ours shall ensure that one day we are lost in the Ocean that India is, but then the consolation that would be invented would be "We are Bhartiya and draw our strength from that identity".
If we plan to survive with our identity intact then we need call ourselves NRKI and confront the GOI and the entire political spectrum with it.