We need civil society engagement in Kashmir
Who are Kashmiri Pandits?
- The Kashmiri Pandits also known as Kashmiri Brahmins are a group of Kashmiri Hindus who fled the Kashmir Valley in 1990s due to widespread communal violence in the valley.
- Over the years, multiple governments have tried to repatriate them to their hometowns however, these efforts have had limited success due to lingering distress between the communities
- Return and Rehabilitation of Kashmiri Migrants scheme of 2008 created government postings in the Valley for Kashmiri Pandit “migrant” youth and were given protected high-security enclaves for housing.
The need for dialogue
- The decades of trying repatriation have showed that there is no top-down solution to the complex question of return.
- The government can enable it, but individuals and civil society will need to create conditions on the ground.
- Currently there exists a divide between the various communities and creating myths about an imagined past of communal “togetherness” is more harmful than beneficial.
- One must understand that relations between Pandits and Muslims in Kashmir could be described as “living together but separate”.
The source of distrust
- Kashmiri Muslims claim that protest in Kashmir was not against religion, but against structures of power and oppression and the Pandits do not understand this point.
- While the Pandits feel aggrieved that the Muslims did not protest the Pandit killings and they feel that greater responsibility lay with the Muslims as they were the majority.
- Many believe that it was the failure of civil society to avert the exodus of the Pandits from the Valley.
- They claim that if some social organisations had acted quickly, the exodus could have been stopped.
- There are groups even among the Pandits who feel that senior political and intellectual figures in the community should have met and reached out to leading figures in the Muslim community which could have prevented the exodus.
Source The Hindu