PM Narendra Modi’s address to the nation last evening on 8th August 2019, on the issue of necessity of reorganization of J& K state is timely and welcome. A strong message has been sent across, on behalf of the Indian nation, that Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh including POK are integral parts of India. In particular, PM was empathetic in declaring that Kashmir and its people, especially the present day majority Muslim community, are part and parcel of the larger Indian family. Now that retrograde Article-370 and 35-A have been put into the dust bins of history, time and opportunity has come when they need to embrace the pragmatic change.
Similarly the concerns of people of Ladakh, the largest region of the erstwhile J&K state, have rightly found mention in PM’s address. This writer, congratulates the people of Ladakh for having received justice finally after their over seven decade’s long struggle to realize this ‘dream’.
However, being a member of nearly half a million of exiled Kashmiri Pandit community, one feels deeply disappointed for not finding any mention in PM’s address of the day, about the ethnic cleansing of Pandit community that has been reduced now to a ‘reverse minority’ and forced to live a life of refugees within their own country for the last three decades. It may be remembered that over 1500 members (including women and children) of this peace loving community have been mercilessly massacred individually as well as in mass massacres like in Nadimarg, Wandhama and at other places of the erstwhile state of J&K especially in the valley. Not only has Kashmiri Pandit community suffered physical genocide but has been subjected to grave cultural and literary genocide as well. Current forced exodus is their seventh one ever since the advent of Islam in the valley in early 14th Century AD.
Also, except for the issue of West Pakistan Refugees, and a passing reference to minorities of J&K, other serious concerns of the people of Jammu didn’t find any mention in PM’s address to the nation either. Among other things, the issue of illegal settlement of Rohingya Muslims in Jammu is a grave security concern for the region.
At the same time, keeping the larger interest of our great nation in mind, one sincerely believes, that concrete steps will be initiated by the govt. to address these genuine and legitimate concerns in immediate future in consultation with the recognized leadership of the exiled Kashmiri Pandit community and the people of important region of Jammu.
The exiled Kashmiri Pandit community has been demanding creation of a separate homeland within the valley, in the form of an Union Territory, to the north east of river Vitasta as envisioned in ‘Margdarshan Resolution’ adopted by the community in exile at a two day conference, held under the aegis of Panun Kashmir, on 28 Dec.1991 in Jammu. This legitimate demand needs to be fulfilled at the earliest so as to help save a distinct community, whose monumental contribution to Indian civilization is well known, from extinction. Creation of such a UT is also necessary to strengthen India and Indian-ness in Kashmir-known as ‘Sharada Desh’ from times immemorial.
Modi govt’s extraordinary bold move of reorganization of J&K has laid a strong foundation for correcting a historical wrong. Thank you BJP and all those who have backed this historical and a decisive move till now. Though many challenges remain, nevertheless, given the resolute leadership of PM Narendra Modi, one feels confident that things will change for the better; one can safely wait for a new dawn to emerge. Yes, We Can !
(Being published in monthly KOSHUR SAMACHAR – August 2019)