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Kashmiri Pandits being let down again

A recent tool used by the Sangh Parivar to inflame their anti-Muslim hate was a propaganda film. The Prime Minister, Union Ministers and Chief Ministers have been campaigning for the film, which is full of false narratives and lies about the extremist attacks and exodus of Kashmiri Pandits of the Valley in the 1990s. When eight BJP-ruled states announced tax concessions for the film, the Assam government went a step further by giving employees half a day off to watch it. And this liberal encouragement to the film had its effect too. The anti-Muslim violence that took place in March-April in many parts of northern India, including the capital and in Karnataka, were a continuation of the provocative slogans and riot calls chanted in theatres after the show. And the saffron groups are still propagating excerpts from the film via social media to whip up anti-Muslim sentiment. When the film endorses the government claim that the dilution of Article 370 of the Constitution that granted special status to Kashmir, was aimed at stemming terrorism and allowing Pandits to return to the state, the Pandits themselves, both living in the Valley and who had migrated out from there, had said aloud that it was a production with no historical truth or intellectual honesty. But though they had warned that the narrative full of fake stories was only politically motivated and that the film would put them in worse insecurity, that was not heeded amidst the sound and fury of violent slogans.

In spite of having been in power for eight years now, the BJP has not made any serious move to wipe out terrorism and restore peace, other than intensifying communal polarisation using Kashmir as a cover during election rallies, increasing the militarisation of the state and denying even the basic civil rights of the people. Lives of countless people are being lost. On 12of this month, a government officer Rahul Bhat was killed by terrorists by crashing into the revenue office in Chadoora, Budgam district. And that was the third terrorist attack this year against Kashmir Pandits amidst the claims of the prime minister and the home minister. Rahul was one who had returned to the Valley in 2010 under the special employment scheme of the Union government. Although the government promised a compensation of Rs five lakh, and a Grade 4 job to his heir, Rahul's family declined that. Not only that, 350 Kashmiri Pandit government employees, demanded of Lt Governor Manoj Sinha that if the government was not able to provide security to their lives, the government should accept their resignation.

The government has been persuading Kashmiri Pandits to return to the Valley by guaranteeing jobs and security. But the Pandits' organisations cite that when the government employees who were relatives of BJP leaders and their favourites were ensuring their own safety by transfers to Jammu, the Kashmir Pandits who did not enjoy similar influence of backing were destined for life in the shadow of death. Information gathered under Right to Information Act (RTI) with figures of transfers and appointments also ratify their allegation. It is not only those returned to the state, but also many families who had refused to leave Kashmir even during the peak of terrorism of the '90s, are thinking of leaving the state now – a clear sign of how grave the situation is. After the Chadoora murder, the Pandits staged several protest sit-ins against the Union government including in Lal Chowk in Srinagar. And the government greeted the protesters not with sympathy or words of solace, but with baton charge and tear gas.

This approach makes it all the clearer that the tears shed by the top rungs of the BJP during the propaganda for the film were insincere. They see the plight of the Pandits only as a card to implement their communal agenda and to ensure votes through communal polarisation. The fascist regime does not seriously wish for peace in Kashmir or the safety of innocent lives. Instead the focus of communal forces as well as of terrorist outfits is on weakening mutual trust among the people there. The more they advance in achieving their goal, the weaker becomes the idea of India. This is the time for every peace-loving person of the country and the people of the Valley should come forward for the security of Pandits without waiting for the mercy of terrorists or the government.

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TAGS:Kashmiri PanditsKashmir FilesArticle 370 dilutionRahul Bhat murder
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