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Ex-J&K PM's grandson hopes for a return to state's peaceful past

Author: Bella Jaisinghani
Publication: The Times of India
Date: August 6, 2019
URL:      https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/ex-jk-pms-grandson-hopes-for-a-return-to-states-peaceful-past/articleshow/70545989.cms

Among the leading Kashmiris who welcomed the Centre's decision on Article 370 is documentary filmmaker Siddharth Kak of 'Surabhi' fame. His grandfather, Pandit Ramchandra Kak, was one of the last prime ministers of Jammu & Kashmir and held office from 1945 to shortly before its accession in 1947.

"This is a momentous day," Siddharth Kak said. "There was a concept that was once defined as Kashmiriyat which both communities created jointly. But it is broken because Kashmiri Pandits are not in possession of their homeland. Theoretically, Article 370 gave the natives a sense of security, of exclusive rights. But in reality, whatever special status had been granted was denied to us (Pandits) years ago. What use are any rights if you are evicted from your homeland? We had become a minority in our own nation. After today, we Pandits are no longer a minority in India."

Kak left Srinagar in 1980 and took up employment in Mumbai. This was 10 years before the mass exodus of his community in 1990. The day he went back to Srinagar after a 20-year gap felt like homecoming. "But I soon realised that the life I knew was only encased in my heart. Merely a few old-timers knew me and remembered my grandfather. Besides being PM of J&K, he was a top archaeologist who published books on the ancient monuments of the state."

He said he feels it will take time before Pandits can return: "I think we must brace ourselves for counterattacks. Terror acts may rise. But we must face it. The fear of violence is perhaps what prevented the defanging of Article 370 in earlier. But violence has always been there in Kashmir. Finally, the state now belongs to the country."
 
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