We paid a price in Kashmir for two reasons: for holding the national flag and for not losing sight of our Dharma.

We are not cancer We are chemotherapy to your Jihadi cells A Kashmiri Pandit speaks PTI / File photo
Voices Kashmiri Pandits Monday, March 27, 2017 - 14:25

Chakreshwar 

In its recent issue, the Kashmir-based magazine, “Kashmir Narrator” has published an article on the proposed return of Kashmiri Pandits. Written by Aashiq Hussain, who calls himself a historian, it says that if Pandits are resettled [in proposed enclaves], it will be like “cancer”. Hussain believes that those Pandits who might return will “sit as idlers, and some of them may venture out to spy for the State.” The other problem he has with their return is that they will “provoke Kashmiri Muslims by protesting against Pakistan and hurling abuses at it.”

So a people driven out of their homes by Islamic extremists will be like “cancer” if they return. But what about those who draw salary from the Indian state [Hussain apparently is a state government employee] but act as pompom girls for Pakistan? What are they?

Nobody will ask this question – especially those who have been terming the temporary closure of a kebab shop in Lucknow as the end of democracy in India. These are also the ones who fought for the freedom of a Kashmir news website [temporarily closed by the state government in 2016 for carrying with prominent threats from Jihadi groups] – one of the editors of which compared Pandits to “intestinal parasites”.

Twenty-seven years have passed since we left our homes in Kashmir. There is no day in our lives when we do not remember it or the gods we left behind. No matter where we are, we carry the memory of our land like a talisman.

Almost since the time we left, we have heard one thing repeatedly, like notes from a broken record, from those who watched in glee our departure or those who took part in our brutalisation: Kashmir is incomplete without you! They have said it in TV studios; they have said it in speeches; they have said it to civil liberty proponents, who have gushed at them for being living embodiments of what they call ‘Kashmiriyat”. But what is this Kashmiriyat, really? What does it mean to us – the exiled lot, banished from the land of their forefathers, into the oblivion of alien territories? Like an author among us says: This evocation of Kashmiriyat is as insulting for us as a Nazi salute.

Why would we have a problem with a word that stands for syncretism; that stands for brotherhood of sorts, not to be found elsewhere? It looks good on their inner CVs; it shows them as custodians of secularism while we, always complaining about what happened to us in 1990, are supposedly communal and an impediment to the process of reconciliation.

But, pray, how will this reconciliation happen? Do we forget everything and sing paeans in favour of Pakistan? Will that make the likes of Aashiq Hussain happy?

That is not going to happen. We paid a price in Kashmir for two reasons: for holding the national flag (sometimes hiding it in our pherans, as the writer Maharaj Krishan Santoshi wrote) and for not losing sight of our Dharma, not forsaking our gods.

We are not cancer, Aashiq Hussain. We are chemotherapy to your Jihadi cells.  

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