Hindu Vivek Kendra

15. On Kashmiri Pandits

15.1 One of the features of the debate on communalism in India is that the attacks on Hindus are to be given a secular colour, even when the perpetrators say that they are doing a communal act. This is best seen in terms of the issue of the Kashmiri Pandits is handled. Many analysts have highlighted the double standards of those who have the same ideology as the authors of the Report. However, even today, if at all the Kashmiri Pandits are mentioned, they are done in a perfunctory manner.

15.2 The cavalier treatment of the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits by Teesta Setalvad, one of the two primary promoters of Sabrang, needs to be highlighted. The people who are shedding crocodile tears over the Muslims in Gujarat, have not even done this with respect to the more than 300,000 Pandits who are living as refugees in their own country for the last thirteen years. In a speech in Delhi on August 20, 2002, she said:

15.3 Thus in a speech of about 900 words, only 47 are devoted to the Kashmiri Pandits, while the rest deals with the violence in Gujarat after the burning of the Hindus in Godhra. Interestingly, the word Godhra does not occur even once in her speech. It should also be noticed that the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits are not treated with sympathy, but an attempt is made to explain the problem away.

15.4 The Kashmiri Pandits are refugees in their own country for the last 13 years. Except for the Hindu organisations, their plight is of no concern to anyone else - political or secular organisations. According to Ashish Nandy of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, secularists have been foolishly soft on minority communalism. He said:

· "When Hindus began to be exterminated systematically in Kashmir and to leave in large numbers, our secularist friends said then governor Jagmohan had deliberately organised the forced migration. I would like to see people leaving their ancestral homes with a sack in hand just because the governor of the state asks them to do so! When questioned later as to how the killings of Hindus were not condemned strongly enough, some of them said newspapers had refused to carry their statements." ("A Dangerous Symbiosis", Outlook, April 1, 2002.)
15.5 There are many explanations for the silence of the secularists with respect to the Kashmiri Pandits. What Nandy informs is one of them. Another has been given by one Asha Kachru, in a letter to Manushi, in its issue nr 113. She wrote:
· "I (feel) no one wants to talk about the (Kashmiri) Pandits..., Now because of the Pandit-BJP nexus I also feel uncomfortable raising the issue."
15.6 So, tomorrow if the Sangh says that sun rises in the East, there will be a sustained campaign amongst the intellectuals to say that this is yet another falsehood propagated by the Sangh!

15.7 Setalvad has written extensively about the Kashmiri terrorists (she calls them militants, mercenaries, etc., but never terrorists), both foreign and home-grown, in quite favourable light in the past. But this is probably the first time that she has condescended, even in a perfunctory manner, to talk about the Kashmiri Pandits. She has visited and talked to the terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir quite a few times. But, she never found it necessary to even make a fleeting visit to the refugee camps of the Kashmiri Pandits.