30 Years After Genocide, Will Kashmiri Pandits Be Rehabilitated In Their Homeland?

Healing touch eludes our front-line terrorist victim family three decades on, the tearful saga continues, as our wounds are still raw, will they heal any-time?

Despite the cries and sorrow of the Kashmiri Pandit families affected by the terrorism in Kashmir, the governments have not been able to embalm our inflicted wounds. Our tales of suffering still continue even after three decades of our forced exile. We have not only lost our near and dear ones but had to abandon our homes and hearths in this backdrop. We did not walk out of the valley, but were forced to flee for safety and security of the rest of the family members after the martyrdom of my father and younger brother.

Exactly three decades after we were displaced and rendered homeless, the tears in our eyes have still not dried. We have managed to get along our lives with steely-grit and determination, but a mere mention of those horrific days, enough to break the carefully put together composure, the agony, the helplessness and the anger directed, more towards the government for their callous attitude and a little towards fate and destiny.

It has been 30 years since tragedy struck our house hold, but for us time seems to have stood still by our side. Our family trauma is too well known to need a repetition, as the family has been a front-line victim of terrorism. We did not only loose two male family members, but quite a lot of property, looted away by the militant kidnapers, leaving almost destitutes.

The devastation also lead to disintegration of a once solid family. The then young widow of my slain younger brother, Usha got employed in Telecom Department in place of her husband. Now she is retired. Her daughter Promila, then one and a half year old has now been married for the past four years.

Even after three decades of the tragic happenings in the family the murderers are scot free. The case was closed as un-traced in 1992, as was intimated to us by the DIG of South Kashmir Range, Anantnag. Neither there has been any clue of the property looted away by the intruders.

Our two native houses in our ancestral village have been burnt-down by the subversive in Aug 1998, alongwith our Cowshed. We were a single pandit family living in our village and our local temple was also burnt-down in Dec 1992. For us the wounds are still raw. What hurts us more is attitude of the state authorities, who have not honoured their assurances and promises.

They have always been in a denial mood. Although we brought our tragic and pathetic case into the notice of all successive Union/ State governments, who all conveyed their sympathies and assured of their full support and assistance. But eventually all the promises proved only a lip-service. However what has given the family some solace is the unstinted support of some eminent friends of my illustrious father.

All other family members are in-consolable with grief. It is too painful a memory for the entire family. Two of my elder uncles also passed away in Jammu during the year of tragedy, due to this shock, which came as a bolt from blue.

Many promises were made by the then government, which have not been kept and are still unfulfilled. The government has been too callous to us.

Every officer visiting our family during those days of painful tragedy, pain and agony promised their full support and assistance in fully rehabilitating the up-rooted and devastated family, but sorry nothing has been done in this direction; we had to start life afresh from a scratch, as nothing in cash or kind was left in the family.

The government has been treating our case casually with a tough bureaucratic approach, rubbing salt on our inflicted wounds. Our case needed a special treatment with more humane touch.

Is there anything enough which can fully compensate the Physical loss? Can anybody bring back the martyred people? But the Government could perhaps wipe out the tears of the survivors. The demands could be full filled as a mark of respect and also a tribute to them. The rigid rules could be relaxed which I think is fully justified in the circumstances of the case, I believe.

When National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was established by the Government of India, I brought into their notice the atrocities, genocide, human rights violation, ethnic cleansing faced by my exiled community in a four paged simple hand-written letter in 1993.

The NHRC took a Suo-Moto cognizance of my petition-letter and granted me the audience of Justice Ranga Nath Mishra, Justice S S Kang and Justice B B Fatima, on a humid-hot June of 1994. My precise focus was denial, deprivation and discrimination suffered by the exiled community. I also prayed for preventive, punitive, and restorative measures. Later on when All India Kashmiri Samaj & Panun Kashmir Movement also moved their respective petitions, my petition was also clubbed with these two and we were regularly heard together by the commission.

In 1999, the NHRC gave its verdict and appreciated me on the arguments of genocide. The NHRC transferred my personal case to State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) Jammu and Kashmir in year 2008 asking them for a speedy-disposal, as the state government had miserably failed to redress the genuine and justified grievances of this patriotic and front-line terrorism victim family.

The SHRC after a prolonged hearings for five years in its double bench verdict, the first of its kind in a Kashmiri Pandit case asked the State government to redress the grievances – “Sooner The Better” in its judgment dt: 22.2.2012. Although the state govt held many high level meetings chaired by the Principal Secretary to HCM, Financial-Commissioner R&R, D.M, the Chief-Secretary and the last but not the least by the advisor (V) to the Governer on 4.10.2018 at Srinagar, but unfortunately neither of the decision taken in these meetings nor the recommendations of the SHRC have been translated into action so far.

This continued callous attitude of the government is not only an utter disregard to the State’s own institution SHRC, but also an insult to the family of a martyr who have suffered so much heavily at the hands of the militants.

These decisions as well as the judgments of the SHRC have been confined with the paper work in government files of J&K, but we are hopeful to get our due. Justice has been much delayed in our-case as the government has always remained in a denial mood.

We are not asking to be rewarded because we are loyal to the Nation and suffered only on account of this. When the government failed to provide us the due safety and security, we certainly deserve not be treated like this. I am pretty hopeful that the present dispensation of the Union territory of J&K, as well as the Modi government will find some time to mitigate the sufferings of all such families who live as refugees in their own country.

Through this write-up I wish to awaken the conscience of the whole Indian Nation to rise to the occasion on our 30th Holocaust Day of the exiled Kashmir Pandits and take cognizance of their plight and play their positive role to get this law-abiding, patriotic and most educated community re-settled and rehabilitated in their homeland, which they have been urging and demanding so far.

I would like to end my write-up with the famous Urdu couplet: “Jahan Karwaan Bhool Jaate hai raasta, Nikal Aati hain wahin se Manzil ki raahein”

-The Author is a community activist