Friday, June 23, 2017
 
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Activism must change with time



By Dr Romesh Raina


Dictated by the force of circumstances,KP’s have yet moved in another year of uncertainty. Each year the month of January acts as a reminder that we have lost our homes and probably for all times to come. Despite all this understanding we try to keep the issue of forced displacement alive to the extent possible. We do it because we must do it. My observations about the whole history of post exodus period spanning about 27 years is marked by a feeling that we could have responded in a much better way. Our woes were further compounded the day we shifted the theatre of our struggle directly from our natural home in the State of J&K to the National Capital here in Delhi mistakenly thinking probably that it will cause a big earth quake here and we will get justice. But to our utter shock and disbelief there was no shake up though a gigantic exodus of more than 4 hundred thousand people was not a thing that could have been easily ignored, at the end of the day we only succeeded in finding a place in the footnotes of archaeology. This is akin to conceding Kashmir as an Islamic place within Secular India.


Having said that, the modus operandi of our struggle was and continues to use all the KP organizations that existed outside Kashmir as an instrument of our battle for survival. These organizations imparted a great momentum and meaning to the entire issue of displacement. They indeed played an important role in highlighting it from time to time by using their entire wherewithal to the best use in their respective States. Notable in this regard are the two important conferences one held by Kashmiri Sabha Bangalore in 2001 and the other by KP Sabha Kolkata in 2006.The Bangalore Conference attracted all the who’s who of Karnataka Politics, Political luminaries like Sh SM Krishna the then Chief Minister of Karnataka was the Chief Guest . He made some important announcements. The cause of Kashmiri Pandits finding an echo in a far off place from Kashmir was in itself a strong reassertion of the rights of its indigenous people trampled under the heavy weight of ideologically driven terrorism. It was part of a KP’s led campaign to attract the national attention by raising the issue in different parts of the Country. It was followed by another major event in the form of a Conference at Kolkata held by KP Sabha of Kolkata in 2006.It was here that the Conference announced the formation of a KP Political party which even participated in the subsequent State elections by fielding its candidates from different constituencies in Kashmir.

Yet another attempt to seek legal remedy for our ills a CWP(534/2006) was filled in the Supreme Court of India wherein Sh.Arun Jaitley the current Finance Minister of India appeared and pleaded on behalf of KP’s. That case has since been transferred by the Supreme Court to the J&K High court for the further follow up.



The sequence of events that followed had only one thing in common and that was to bring the issue of gross injustice to the notice of people of India and seek justice from the powers that be. There indeed was a muted response, other than tall promises nothing substantial was achieved. To support my argument, i ventured to talk to a well informed Bengali gentleman during the Kolkata Conference; he attributed the Luke warm response from rest of the Country to this catastrophe to a perennial caste war between Brahmans and other castes. The non response of other castes therefore was a natural corollary of the age old anti-Brahminical mindset prevalent elsewhere and since KP’s are high caste Brahmans, it was natural to happen to them. To contest the conflict ridden caste ideology became a big challenge and an obstruction in convincing the different sections of the society of the ground realities of Kashmir terrorism driven by religious motivations. The authors of separatism and its leadership had by then succeeded in changing the whole narrative of Kashmir problem to their advantage by presenting it as a Muslim issue. The Hindu dimension of Kashmir was willfully either ignored or kept under the carpet. Its exclusion was carefully crafted to block any initiative from displaced KP’s to reclaim their rights. It also served well to the greater designs of the highly religiosised polity of the Valley in squeezing the minority space and refusing to concede any ground to the sections of the people other than the ones belonging to their own religion. Our struggle to get the national attention therefore had reached a dead end.



28 years is quite a good time for an objective introspection and to take stock of the situation.Abandoning Kashmir altogether in the post exodus phase amounted to offering Kashmir on a platter to the ideologically driven jehadi forces.It had its unintended consequences as it pushed us to the margins of the politics thus rendering us irrelevant and political non entities in the process.The lack of connectivity with Kashmir has further compounded the problem by ceding the ground to anti-KP constituency whose sole objective is to retain a minority free Kashmir. To operate a political campaign therefore in an environment much more hostile became difficult. Setting it into the correct perspective,questioning has broken out vocally in KP’s as never before. The moot question before us today is that have we made some gainful progress towards the resolution of our just rights and was it a correct decision to fight for our rights from unfamiliar lands. In actuality to take the fight for the survival out of the State was a mistake.This has more to do with the KP institutions who have been at the forefront of the struggle and their respective stands becoming an obstruction to any organised and a structured response resulting in total disconnect with the people. Intra organisational hot headed impulses in such delicate matters has rendered most of our institutions and their managements as drawing room organisations.
In this battle of perceptions,there existed a pressing need to maintain the demographic influence in the valley. Implicit in this is the significant transformation of demographic structure and internal population movements having taken place in Kashmir in the post exodus phase.It is an act of displaying power to create a new political and demographic reality by adopting and practising anti-minority practices.While considering the consequences of this silent demographic aggression which indeed are profound and everlasting because of such continuous waves are bound to influence the society in many ways. The bigger picture that emerges as a consequence is a total homogenization of its society. In substantive terms it has affected the ethnic markers to a slow and steady erosion.To contest this has become an urgent political necessity as religious considerations on the politics there have become more pronounced. To prevent therefore the fast changing demographic identity it assumes significance to continue to echo the pleural heritage in popular usage.



This has given birth to a new swing in the Kashmir politics today,its signs are palpable in the way they have treated the whole issue of the forced exodus of minorities.It resulted in a strong feeling of deprivation and a deep rooted perception in the suffering minorities about their inability to withstand the forces of radical politics which intensified over the years. Such hot headed impulses altered the political climate of the place and that is holding them in thrall as it has its reasons which are not far to find,injustice is at the core of this thinking. Discrimination and the denial of elementary justice is central to the extreme psychological injury inflicted on them. Their unmet demand for justice has many dimensions political,social,economic and so on.Persistant negation of their just rights has weakened the polity of practising secularism and pluralism by conceding space to doubts and mistrust.Any concept of favoured practice in such areas flagrantly denies the principle of equality,fairness and justice. Non redressal of the issue of forced exodus of minorities has become the living example of the denial.



Kashmir has come to assume the centre of power controlling the entire political and power structure of the State.Its impact has intensified which finds an echo in all the conceivable areas of its polity.This has brought with it a strange unease for distressed minorities reluctant to fit into the space of changing scenarios resulting in their increased mental distance with Kashmir.The starting point therefore is to reconstruct the functional parameters of an emotional and perceptional edifice by providing an adequate psychological space to the KP society as a whole. Its real elements are the retention of Kashmir in the socio-psychological memory of KP’s necessary to reverse the political and social disconnect with Kashmir.The fact is that the fundamental approach to the issues of re-connectivity with Kashmir have to be reinvented and repackaged.Tied to this is the fact that KP’s must live in the socio-psychological memory of Kashmir.At a time when tides of change are underway,it is necessary to revive the hope and that is central to this analysis to sustain the momentum.It calls for genuine structural changes in the practising activism. I conclude with the couplet “HAZAROON MANZILAIN HONGI,HAZARON KARVAN HONGAY,YEH MEHFILAIN HUMKO DOONDENGI NA JAANAY HUM KAHAN HONGAY.



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