Never ever leave lien on Kashmir
by Romesh Raina on 30 May 2015 1 Comment

Secularism in Kashmir was not allowed to take root and hence failed to emerge in the true sense. Religious ideas, attitudes and practices have fundamentally altered the atmospherics and political culture of Kashmir, resulting in the brute display of might. Its end implied a process of religionisation of the society to serve Muslim purposes. It has lit fires and has only helped majority dominated and oriented secularism, something new to Kashmir, which its people are still trying to comprehend.


At the root is the concept that Kashmir is for Muslims. This is what continues to play on the minds of the people there. The image thus created is a holistic construct. There is no single factor responsible for it. What is therefore significant in terms of emphasis is the motivation of dominance. It is a complex compound of many interrelated perceptions, each important unto itself, majority being an important factor.


In the backdrop of the above, the high voltage campaign in Kashmir against the rehabilitation of displaced and dispossessed Kashmiri Pandits has brought a new dimension to the fore. It is a part of a wider game plan where terrorists, separatists and fundamentalists are fighting a lethal battle that may well decide whether Kashmiri Pandits can ever return, or not. It is a manifestation of toxic aggression which is ceding ground to destructive majoritarianism, sending Kashmir into a ceaseless cycle of street protests.


There is an unmistakable pattern in all this, and that is to make sure that the message of Kashmiri Pandit rejection hits home. It is ultimately paving the way for (one) Religion and its minders to establish totalitarian control over the society. For the intolerance of another community is becoming malicious; that is the social reality of Kashmir today. People have been conditioned to believe that faith is of utmost importance.


The new found religious assertiveness is dominating all thought on the fast changing relationship between Kashmiri Muslims and displaced Kashmiri Pandits. At the core of it lays the continued acts of rejectionism and religious supremacy which has exuded from the State for quite some time. It is a crucial development in the battle for the return of exiled minorities, which has a direct link with the demographic control of Kashmir. It has profound implications as the situation is unfair to the displaced community.


These impulses have defined an agenda that continues to erode the minority space as it belongs to a brand of politics that harbours a virulent anti-minority sentiment. The exiled people are approaching the issue with the seriousness it deserves. It compels us to revisit the pertinent question - can Kashmir impede the rise of radical political order?


We also need serious introspection on how we should react to such events and the intensity with which they continue to occur. Of immense importance is the fact that Kashmir politics is on the cusp of a significant change as it is ceding ground to Islamic space which would further compromise the peace and security environment there. With one eye on Pakistan and the other on local politics, toxic dramatization of anti-national and anti-return of minorities has become its distinguishing feature. The Government on the other hand has its own inertia and lack of imagination and it not contesting such trends. The mishandling of the Masarat Alam issue and the regular presence of Pakistan Flags on Indian soil are cases in point.


As a response Mission 5000 on May 3 2015 was not a mere event but a social movement to lodge protest in the strongest possible terms. It turned out to be a milestone in the life of the exiled community. Our youngsters took centre-stage. The Kashmiri Pandit struggle is a consequence of a permanent sense of injury and deep-seated hurt.


Now, the community is reiterating its claim of being equal stakeholders in the living civilisation in Kashmir. It needed a measure of courage on the part of Kashmiri Pandits and the community stood up to the recent violent anti-minority demonstrations in the valley. This reenergized initiative has become part of a wider national political debate and campaign which is associating with the cause. In keeping this new focus, newer elements are added to strengthen the cause.


The sum total of this argument is that Kashmir is our core constituency; as long as we retain it, we remain distinct and the claim will always be there. Therefore never ever leave lien on Kashmir.


The author is a practicing doctor and social activist; he lives in Faridabad, Haryana   

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