The last 30 years have been the most trying times for Kashmiri Hindus as post displacement the community spread across various geographical regions which were never thought of earlier. The community faced tremendous challenges, during the years of forced displacement, there were few thousand souls which, due to various reasons, stayed put in the valley. These Kashmiri Hindus are community heroes who, despite all provocation and threats to their lives, have continued to stay back. They have kept the Hindu Consciousness alive in Kashmir.
Despite staying in Kashmir all these tumultuous years, these valley-based Hindus have faced a lot of discrimination from the local and central dispensation. Their genuine demands were unattended or ignored and they had to face ridicule from the local bureaucracy who treated them as pariah. The Jihadi infested local administration systematically encouraged their neglect so that these few thousand leftover Hindus are forced to leave the valley. Not only the bureaucracy, but the local majority population always ridiculed them for not leaving the valley and subjected them to choicest abuses whenever situation turned hostile for Jihadis in Kashmir.
Post-1990, jihadis left no stone unturned to drive these Hindus away from Kashmir. The large-scale massacres of Hindus in Nadimarg, Sangrampora, Wandhama and Telwani bear testimony to the fact that these Hindus risked their lives all these years and became the prime target of Jihadi’s. But despite all these sacrifices, the dispensation at the centre and at local level turned Nelson’s eye towards them. When central government speaks about the return of displaced Hindus to valley, the claim appears hallow as they have done nothing to take care of the left-over Hindus. Government must realise that these valley-based Hindus are the living symbols of Indian Civilisation who have risked their lives and are living under hostile conditions. The recent killing of Sarpanch Ajay Bharti is an example of how Hindus are living under constant threat hanging over their heads in Kashmir.
Living in fragile environment with hostile neighbourhood, these Kashmiri Hindus devised a subtle and democratic way of representation. Over the years they have submitted their demands to visiting central government representatives and to the state authorities for redressals. However, despite all their efforts they have been neglected and these neglected people had to fend for themselves. The irony is that not many community organizations have come forward for their support. Recently valley based Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti led by Sh. Sanjay Tikoo had to undertake fast unto death to highlight the demands of the community who are facing discrimination and deprivation. The demands of valley-based Hindus are not only doable but are a step towards larger rehabilitation of Hindus in valley. The charter of demands are:
- Jobs for the valley based Kashmiri Hindus in public enterprises.
- Providing accommodation to valley-based Hindus who had to shift from their homes within valley due to security concerns.
- Treating valley-based Hindus at par with displaced Hindus and thus extending the financial assistance to these families.
- Protection and Preservation of Temples and Shrines of Hindus in Kashmir.
- Establishment of nodal agency which shall redress their grievances regularly.
These are some of the doable actions which the LG administration should work upon to restore the confidence of the valley Hindus and thus that of the community at large. These steps would not only speak about the seriousness of the central government towards them but shall also be a step in defeating the Jihadi mechinations in valley which have rendered Hindus homeless.
Whenever the displaced community returns to their moorings, these non-displaced community members will act like a sheath anchor which would facilitate rehabilitation. These Hindus are a link between Kashmir and displaced Hindus and their safety and wellbeing should be a priority of the state which has previously failed miserably in preventing their forced displacement.
This issue of Naad is a special issue dedicated to the valley-based Hindus who over three decades have played a vital role in keeping the place-consciousness alive in Kashmir and have faced enormous security threats. The articles in this issue shall bring in focus the problems faced by them so that both the central and state administrations wake up and take an earnest step in addressing their problems.
-Sunil Raina Rajanaka