A country that talks about secularism, humanity, fraternity or protection of minorities left lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits fending for themselves while the terrorist groups from Pakistan (with assistance from at least some locals within Kashmir) killed a number of Pandits and forced many more to be displaced from their homes and stay in transit camps in Jammu and across the rest of India.
The latest trailer of Shikara, a movie that depicts the terrifying and heart-wrenching events that took place during January 1990 and its aftermath, was out a few days ago and it brought back memories of what most of us would have read about in newspapers or seen on television. Even for someone who is not directly related to the Pandit community or was not directly affected by the violence, the horrifying magnitude of what they went through will leave you heartbroken.
Indians suffered while Indians watched in silence
Watching the trailer and countless videos before it on the same subject, something inside me just snapped. How the f**k could we let something like this happen? And how the f**k do our politicians still use the collective misery of such a huge population for their shady political games? It is so infuriating to see that all those politicians still roam around freely (Politicians both in Kashmir and in the centre are equally culpable) with no sense of responsibility and accountability. What have our honorable courts done on a matter as important as this? Were they not able or not willing to use the testimonies of the Pandits and gather whatever evidence possible to build a case against those terrorists to finally bring some sense of justice? We do have courts in the country now, don’t we?
Then I looked at what has happened with the victims of riots that took place during 1984, 2002, 2013 and so on and I see the answer staring right back at me in the form of a system that allows terrorists (anyone who engages in unprovoked rioting is a terrorist) to first kill a significant number of people and put the fear of God in those who survived while simultaneously creating a deep mistrust within them, let them live that nightmare for decades with no sign of justice and then ask the victims to ‘forget the past‘ and ‘move on’ because their tears and their cries for justice still prick our conscience and serve as a constant reminder that we let down those who were defending the very idea of India and whose lives were torn apart because of our inaction.
Betrayed by their own
They had spent generations in the valley and were probably much more Kashmiri than those intruders who succeeded in displacing them from their own homes. They lived together with Kashmiri Muslims for generations but when the Pandits needed safety from those hate-mongering and Kalashnikov wielding wimps from Pakistan, some of those same people either turned their backs on them or actively participated in driving them out of the valley in the hopes of achieving freedom.
Their misery was compounded by the fact that they were betrayed not just by some of their own neighbors and friends but also by an entire Indian state, especially its politicians, who conveniently left them to suffer in transit camps for the past 30 years. Many people are still living in those camps which are not just inadequate but inhuman as well. Imagine an entire family having to run from their homes abandoning everything behind and having to live in tents or one or two-room houses in refugee camps even today. Can there be anything more humiliating than that? And if this is how we treat our own countrymen, then it is not difficult to visualize what lies in store for the millions of refugees that our government is pretending to give citizenship under the highly unconstitutional and deeply flawed Citizenship Amendment Act.
Both Politicians and media are equally culpable
The governments (both in the state and at the centre) have done far too little for the welfare, rights and justice of those who were either displaced from their homes or died as a result of the terror that was spread in the valley. This madness has gone on for far too long now but the sad part is that the plight of those poor souls may not end anytime soon.
The indifference shown by a majority of our journalists towards the hardships of an entire community is even more shocking. Except for a few stories or news programs, most reporters did not take up their cause to try and put some pressure on the government to act. Even today their reverence and sycophancy towards the current government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has done scant little to bring justice and reconciliation to the Pandits, tells us where their priorities lie.
For someone who genuinely wants to understand what the Pandits went through and how justice for them looks like an unachievable dream, below are a few videos that may help bring some clarity on this issue.
Image source : Twitter (@VVC Films)