The BJP led government’s big no to establishment of separate colonies for Kashmiri Pandits and Sainiks in the Valley has all the potential of revitalising radicals and their Pakistani mentors to step up their campaign of keeping Kashmir free from ‘infidels’.
Encouraged by bowing of the Narendra Modi dispensation to their threats, the separatists may now get emboldened to set new conditions and deadlines for visiting pilgrims and holding pilgrimages. They are already directing the course of life in Kashmir. After having succeeded in generating suspicion among common Kashmiris that ‘separate colonies’ was a conspiracy to change the demography of the Muslim majority Valley, the separatists have virtually caught hold of power-hungry BJP’s nerve centre.
Despite unequivocal assurance, the radicalised separatists have guardedly reacted to the statement made by Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir in the Lok Sabha, saying that there is no such proposal with the government. “Wait and watch” has been their refrain since the announcement in Parliament. Obviously, they will keep their options open to set the Valley again on fire in the upcoming summer.
The question is not whether the government would establish any such colony in Kashmir or not; it is all about why to make such statements which send wrong signals to terrorists and separatists. On 5th May 2015, Minister of State for Home Affairs Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhry had also stated in Parliament that there was no proposal to create separate zones exclusively for the Kashmiri Pandits in the State. Earlier on 15th July 2014, Minister of State for Home Kiran Rijiju had reiterated in the Lok Sabha that a Comprehensive Package of Rs 1,618.40 crore has been devised to facilitate migrants purchase or construct houses, repair or renovate damaged houses and dilapidated or unused houses besides construction of transit accommodation. The latest reiteration in Lok Sabha speaks how desperate the BJP is to remain glued to power in Jammu and Kashmir, even if it means compromising with the party’s fundamentals.
With all these assurances, year after year, why so much hue and cry is being raised by both mainstream and separatist leadership over the ‘so-called cluster colonies for Kashmiri Pandits’, especially when the Centre has no such idea at all. Why ultimatums are being issued and why the Centre is always kept on tenterhooks over this issue? Essentially the 2016 Kashmir unrest was product of the sinister campaign against return of Kashmiri Pandits though terrorist Burhan Wani’s killing ignited the passions. The BJP has not been able to understand separatists’ method in madness.
Kashmiri mainstream and separatist organisations are smart enough to keep the Valley boiling; block the return of Pandits and radicalise Kashmir society to the optimum. The BJP has obliged them by offering an olive branch. The mighty saffron party has demonstrated its weak resolve in pushing forward the mission of Kashmiri Pandits’ return. They have distanced it for many many decades now.
BJP’s resolve on return of Kashmiri Pandits is as hollow as power-hungry mainstream Kashmiri politicians oft-repeated yell “Kashmir is incomplete without Kashmiri Pandits”.
Whether Kashmir is incomplete without Kashmiri Pandits or not but the fact remains that their return and rehabilitation back home is the only parameter of normalcy in the Valley. As long as the homeless miniscule minority roams across the world as refugees, the Valley will continue to live with the stigma of being intolerant and uncivilised. Kashmiri Pandits’ return is a litmus test, not only for the so-called pluralistic ethos of Kashmir but also for survival and sustenance of secularism in India.
Of course, the highly tolerant and peaceful community has carved out a niche for itself within the country and abroad due to its inherent spirit of assimilation and hard-work but the mere fact that they were hounded out from their homes and hearths is haunting them.
Their generations might be doing well in their respective pursuits and they may not even be willing to go back to the Valley but denial of this right by persecutors and perpetrators of their forced exodus is tormenting their psyche.