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Ravi Munshi

With plans solidifying for the rehabilitation of the migrant community at three different locations, separatists in the valley are having sleepless nights. They knew that the demand for a UT was a bridge too far, so they didn’t care. But now, how does one counter a practical plan that might work? The worry is knocking the daylights out of them – even the Grand Mufti simmers in its agony.

The MHA seems to be clueless about what’s in the best interests of the KP community. All it cares about is fulfilling BJP’s campaign promise. It has failed to reason even a modest thought: If the NC and PDP had genuine concern for the Pandits’ welfare, they had almost a quarter century between them to work out a solution, and they didn’t – how can they now be entrusted to offer an equitable solution? But, who is to blame for our failure to lodge that simple concept in the minds of the decision makers?

Extraordinary thrust for KP rehabilitation may have come from the Modi government, but the implementation of that plan, I am afraid, has been hijacked by the state administration. What should have been a firm and independent decision by the Center – in consultation with the KP community and without the influence of the state administration – has been seized by the Omar administration to its full advantage. And yet, PK refuses to rise to the occasion. It seems to have lost the capacity to gracefully accept the inevitability of the Center’s initiative, make amends with the current dispensation, and join in the efforts to make the best of the given situation.

Signs of desperation among its supporters are evidenced by their bellicose language against those that don’t subscribe to their views – calling them lunatics, morons, fifth columnists, bounty hunters, politically challenged, and differently-motivated. And then, there’s a master storyteller who found amusement in calling ‘his’ President checkmated for a move he didn’t make – the meeting he didn’t attend. In a rush to liken him to a jackal, little did the storyteller realize how he was being inconsiderate towards the migrant community by his unintended implication of who the poor donkey represented?

Unfortunately, the real checkmate is closing in elsewhere. If only the self-appointed sole representatives of the migrant community could spare some time away from chasing a goal whose time hasn't arrived, then they would realize how real the likelihood is of the KP community to, forever, lose its foothold in the valley – unless it helps build safeguards against individualism and human greed.

In the excitement of returning to its roots, the community may have overlooked one of the stumbling blocks that could negate all efforts that have brought the community this far. Not about any threats to their lives or livelihood, it's about the danger that may surface as a result of their own actions after the migrants have settled in. Let me explain.

Those that are familiar with the development of Pamposh Enclave in New Delhi know how much it has changed since its humble beginning. Starting out as a desolate piece of land apportioned to the Kashmiri Pandits for their exclusive abode – making it their Kashmir away from Kashmir – the passage of time has rendered it unrecognizable in both, look and feel.

It’s not a commentary on any individual or the community, because the pulls of changing circumstances are such that even the most ardent resolve will turn malleable at the altar of prudence. Speaking from my personal dilemma, explosive property valuations and family situations have gradually duped the Pandit community at Pamposh into reducing its stake to an insignificant minority.

A similar situation, though far more serious, is likely to arise in the new townships after they are stocked with the migrant community. Money is often the biggest motivator. Whether it is fear psychosis, financial constraints, or limited opportunities in an ‘unfamiliar’ setting, they are at an elevated risk of being tempted to let or sell their hard earned interests to the highest bidder. It takes little imagination to figure out who the bidders will be.

By acquiescing to townships the state administration may be banking on that human failing – a trap from which the migrant community may not be able to recover. That is, unless the leadership has a concrete plan to negotiate appropriate restrictive covenants with the MHA to disbar ownership by the valley’s religious majority.

Whether in a UT or a satellite city, it's important that the community gets enough time to stabilize without giving in to the temptation of parting with its interests. Taking root and increasing the tribe will be possible only when the community has conscientiously resolved to stay put.

Vultures are waiting and the leadership is wailing. Is there anyone listening?