On the issue of the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley, local politicians of all hues have ganged up to block resettlement. Whether it is the ruling PDP, the National Conference of the Opposition, or separatists, the bottomline is clear: Hindus are not welcome. Which is not unusual because most Kashmiri politicians anyway are known for their pro-Pak and pro-separatist sympathies; what really is conspicuous, however, is the fact that the return of Kashmiri Pandits is being checked using apparently innocuous phraseology.
So, Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed wants that the Kashmiri Pandits, if they return to the Valley, should not live in separate enclaves, as this would destroy the state’s composite culture. Talking about his meeting with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi, Mufti said in the J&K Assembly, “I have made it clear to him that they [Kashmiri Pandits] cannot live separately. Whosoever lives there will live together.” The reason: “…Kashmir’s composite culture and our unity in diversity… will not be allowed to get destroyed at any cost.”
My spontaneous reaction to this statement was: “Is saadgi pe kaun naa mar jaye ai khuda/ladte hain aur haath mein talwar bhi nahin.” Except that the Mufti’s saadgi or simplicity is a facade, just like the so-called Azaadi movement is a cover for jihad. For he is an Islamist Chief Minister whose agenda is to bring his state under Shariat, who is a buddy of separatists in the Valley and terrorists in Pakistan, who has done everything to end pluralism, diversity, and openness in the Valley. And he, the enemy of “composite culture,” is waxing eloquent about its virtues!
In fact, the Mufti is using composite culture as a ruse to perpetuate the exile of Pandits, as they can think of coming back only if they are given separate enclaves and adequate security. By denying this demand, he is telling them: don’t come to Kashmir.
The Mufti is just hiding behind sophistry and the liberal claptrap of composite culture to attain the Islamist objective: to keep the Valley Muslim. He knows it very well that for the Pandits still remember the reign of terror that Muslim fanatics had unleashed in the 1990s, thus forcing the exodus (Typically, separatists and liberals falsely blame the then Governor, Jagmohan, for triggering the exodus, while the fact is that he actually prevented genocide). And, by the way, it is not just the Hindus who have been driven out of their homeland; the Sikhs have fared no better; Christians, too, have been persecuted.
Former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah uses another ruse to stop the return of Kashmiri Pandits; a separate colony in the state for them would lead to the “ghettoization” of the community: “No right-minded Kashmiri will oppose the return of Kashmiri Pandits to their homes in the Valley. No right-minded Kashmiri will support the ghettoization of Kashmiri Pandits, housed in segregated inherently unsafe camps in the valley.”
Merriam-Webster describes a ‘ghetto’ as “a part of a city in which members of a particular group or race live usually in poor conditions,” “the poorest part of a city,” “a quarter of a city in which Jews were formerly required to live.” Mr. Abdullah, you, your father, your grandfather, and other politicians from the Valley created such conditions that, were the Pandits to come back, they cannot live anywhere but in a ghetto. First you torment somebody and render them homeless, and then you lament that they live in slums.
Even more hypocritical is the position of JKLF chairman Yasin Malik who sees an Israel-RSS conspiracy to divide the people of Kashmir: “We will not allow the government to build separate settlements for Kashmiri Pandits. This is an Israeli ploy and RSS has taken inspiration from that. They want to create walls of hatred here, spread fire and divide the people.”
Malik’s deceit and mendacity know no bounds. He said, “Every leader, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, has always appealed our Pandit brothers to return to the Valley and live under composite culture with their Muslim brothers.”
One wonders how the fleeing Jews would react to Himmler’s appeal to them to come back and live peacefully in the Third Reich. For the plight of non-Muslims under an Islamist regime is little better than that of the Jews was in Hitler’s Germany; a recent instance is that of the Islamic State in the Middle East.
Separatists, with the connivance of or collusion with PDP and NC, play a clever game. They undermine traditional communal amity, instill fear in the hearts of Hindus, and expel them from the Valley. And when there is a proposal to bring back those people, mainstream politicians and separatists talk about composite culture and the fear of ghettoization. They have created a catch-22 situation and they want to perpetuate it, so that Islamization continues unabated.