This narration is of a real episode in my life, only it does not seem so. How ironic, even pathetic is the situation of Bhattas vis-à-vis Kashmir!

Sometime back I visited the clinic of my Doctor friend in Delhi for a general chai-chat about events, as we sometimes do. I was delighted to meet a short statured, bearded man in his early twenties who my Doctor friend introduced to me as Doctor Bhutt from Kashmir. I was instantaneously transported to the beautiful Valley of my birth, Kashmir from where I was uprooted by the scourge of terrorism. The bane of my generation is that it has yet to reconcile with the permanency of this fate, at least to be so for our lifetime. Hence I was intrigued enough to desire an update regarding the ground realities in my birthplace.

The young Doctor turned out to be an affable person with a distinct Arabic slant in his Kashmiri accent. This slant seems to be the latest transgression on Kashmiri composite culture, with the growth of Nizam-e-Mustafa cult in the Valley. Reporting on the current ground realities of the Valley, he had nothing special to comment and it was understood that Kashmiri Muslims have learnt to live in an environment of Islamic fundamentalism. They seem to have become insensitive to the atrocities that accompany terrorist acts. Words like blackmail, duress, ransom, rape, desecration and destruction seem to have been lost to Kashmiri Muslims as having a viciously negative meaning. What is ironic is that people have settled into a comfort groove even in such a disastrous situation and are quite alright with things remaining at status quo. In such a situation, what is to be of all those Kashmiris who want to re-live a civilized and cultured life as in the better days?

The impressive Kashmiri Doctor informed me in my subsequent meetings with him that he is the son of a Govt school teacher of the Valley who had a number of Kashmiri Pandit peers in his profession. He informed me that his father was deeply impressed and influenced by his Kashmiri Pandit peers, who in his opinion were always helpful, understanding, honest and sincere. He claimed that his father who is in old age now admired his Kashmiri Pandit peers with love and respect and had great appreciation for their intelligence, diligence, dedication and composed nature. The young doctor said that he was always awestruck by the eloquent account of Kashmiri Pandits rendered by his father because he had not met any Kashmiri Pandit during his coming of age years, after 1990. He confessed that living in Kashmir, he had always had an earnest desire to meet a live specimen of a Kashmiri Hindu who would have all the attributes described by his father and which are absent in his contemporaries living in Kashmir today; attributes which had made life in the valley civilized and positive in the past.

It is then that I understood the circumstances of our first meeting better. When my Doctor friend had introduced me as a Kashniri Pandit to the young boy, he had embraced me with over-bubbling warmth. Perhaps he was excited that he was meeting in person a live specimen from the endangered community described by his father, which has already vanished from Kashmir. Here he had in his presence, in flesh and blood a survivor from the pre-1989 era of composite culture of Kashmir; a Kashmiri Hindu community member who had been ejected for the simple reason that he professed a different faith which believed in love, peace and coexistence.

This story is simple to narrate but pathetic in its meaning. Genuine Kashmiris have lost their moorings irrespective of their faith and they feel deficient and incomplete in their current circumstances. Their opinion of each other is based on hearsay or from the limited knowledge that they carry and the limited interactions that they have. While the young doctor is so positively influenced by his father, on the flip side this has mostly been a wonderful situation for communal Kashmiri politicians to spread canards and turn the fissures caused by the Kashmiri Hindu displacement of 1990 into permanent cracks. Given this, the situation created by some third rate Kashmiri politicians recently around the conduct of Amarnath Yatra (pilgrimage) is to be considered gravely. Such politicians should be dealt with sternly.

Genuine Kashmiris who stay that side of Jawahar tunnel pine to live a liberal life of grace and dignity in which they breathe and practice all freedoms and reap benefits of a democratic setup; A life and situation in which every one is free to profess and advocate his views without demeaning the views of others and without prejudice and fear of retribution. Those Kashmiris who live this side of Jawahar tunnel dream and aspire to go back to live in peace and tranquility of their homeland of saints, sages and places of beauty and worship. Yet all these aspirations remain as hallucinations for the simple reason that imported Islamic terrorists and their local associates persist in harassing and blackmailing common people into subjugation and surrender, to fundamentally accept such mores and values which were alien to Kashmiri ethos. They have torn to shreds the entire social fabric of Kashmiri society, which will take ages to mend even after the mad fringe of society which is presently on a killing prowl, is crushed and eliminated in a finish.

Till that time in the future hopefully to come, Kashmir will remain in the fundamentalist’s domain, where there will be no scope and space for re-growth and re-development of composite Kashmiri culture. And Kashmiri Pandits (the original inhabitants of the Valley) will persist to be deemed as ancient relics of Kashmir’s past to be consigned to the pages of Kashmiri history in library archives. That too if we are lucky because there seems to be a mandate to even wipe us from the texts of history books!

This is the truth for Kashmiri Hindus even as both the State and Central Govts proclaim that conditions in the Valley are limping back to normalcy. Such proclamations by the powerful elite are to simply create a delusion in both at Srinagar and Delhi and mislead the people of India; whereas the fact is that Kashmiri Hindus have been eliminated from the political and social landscape of the Valley by a willful design of the Islamic terrorists. Their instruments were widespread and random brutal killings, ransacking and vandalizing of Kashmiri Hindu properties, usurping these or turning these into ghost places. Kashmiri Hindu jobs and businesses have either been ruined or snatched. Now even their traces and footprints are being removed so that they have no moorings and therefore no hopes of going back. Only a miniscule number of some 5000 odd Kashmiri Pandits have been held back as political hostages to mislead the international community and show that the race of Kashmiri Pandits has not been totally cleared from the Valley.

A young Kashmiri Doctor Bhutt could not but consider the sight of a Kashmiri Hindu as uncommon, comparable to watching a specimen of an endangered species. But this tragedy is lost on fellow Kashmiri Hindus and we are unable to come together around issues of community preservation. We have not been able to create a vision for ourselves as we seem to have generally lost the zest and longing for our homeland. We still continue to play games of one-upmanship with each other due to our inflated egos. If it remains so, we may even have to accept such a losing fate in eventuality. Just for the simple reason that we have not yet been able to iron and straighten our internal differences which at the most are trivial and trite. We will never be able to see the light at the other end of the Jawahar tunnel.

This light is still blinking at us to grasp realities and restart our journey of self-help so that we are able to assert our fundamental right to live in Kashmir. If we fail to assert this basic and fundamental right of survival, we will wither sooner than later. If at all we will become relics in the annals of Kashmir history and for this our future generations will not condone us. Should we consent for that to happen?

*P.N.Ganjoo was born in a modest Kashmiri family about 7 decades ago, lost his father early and was raised by his honest, hardworking mother. With her efforts he received his education in Srinagar and went on to serve in various Government Departments before retiring as a senior grade KAS officer.

Presently he is working on his varied interests besides being a consulting Director of a software services company.

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