What if KPs had never left valley
One of the very first unfortunate outcomes of the turmoil of 90s was the migration of Kashmiri Pandits outside valley—an event most KPs today refer as exodus trying to bring it equivalence to the jewish parable. In his memoir, Rahul Pandita puts out this parable in following words-“Years later, I saw a picture of a jewish prisoner in Auschwitz. When I saw his eyes, my mind immediately transported to that day (of migration)….”
Migration outside state was never an easy affair because as Kashmiris, KPs were not accustomed to the hot humid weather of Jammu and other parts of India. Add to that, the conditions of refugee camps, KPs had to go through lots of hardships something which they definitely didn’t deserve to.
But what if “ KPs never left valley”, what would have happened? This is a question that we would be looking at today. But first—the Disclaimer: I strongly hold and believe that irrespective of their political opinions, KPs are a part of our society and our state. As a Kashmiri and as a Muslim, I feel that it is our uttermost responsibility to welcome them back to their homes and make them feel secure. Period.
So “What if” “KPs never migrated?”
1. More KPs would have died: The estimate of number of KPs that died in turmoil of 90s (from hereon referred to as “tehreek” as used in Kashmiri vernacular) vary from 250 to 650. On the other hand, the estimates of number of Kashmiri muslims that died In tehreek vary between 70000 to 100000 or more with an added 10000 of forced disappearances. Many more were injured, handicapped , maimed and tortured. So if KPs like muslims had stayed back in Kashmir, more of them would have died. KPs as such made the then right decision and migrated from valley keeping their death toll to minimum.
2. KPs wont have been radicalized: Right from the forced exile, Kps were straight food for radical Hindu organizations whose agenda is nothing more than anti muslim. Blaming Islam and Muslims for their unfortunate conditions, KPs landed directly into the lap of extremist Hindu state views.
3. KPs wont have lost their identity: This is the one that is most worrisome. 30 years away from home , KPs married with people of other states, had kids, built homes and moved on. Within this acclimatization, KPs slowly wore out their culture and language. Their new generations couldn’t speak though if they could understand Kashmiri. KP as a people today are lost. And that is unfortunate.
4. Education wouldn’t have suffered as bad as it did: Any Kashmiri Muslim in 50s will boast and swear by the dedication of KP teachers. KP teachers have laid foundations of standards of education in whole of India. KPs are known to be highly intelligent and dedicated when it comes to teaching. It is unfortunate that our generation and the ones succeeding us wont have any experience of being taught by KP teachers. Oh, but I have heard of their cruel ways of punishing students as well. Pun Intended.
5. Real Estate in Kashmir wont have boomed: By 2000, most KPs had lost hope of returning back to Kashmir. So they started selling their properties in Kashmir. The entrepreneurial bent of Kashmiri Muslims took on the risk and started a snowball of real estate inflation.
6. They wouldn’t have been worried about coming back. Well if they never would have left.
7. Kashmiri Muslims wont have harbored misconceptions about KPs. And vice versa as well. It is an unavoidable resultant of distance and isolation. People start building stories harboring misconceptions about the “other”. And these misconceptions grow on each other pyramiding a mountain of hate and despise. The more, KPs and KMs would interact with each other, more of their grudges would have been dissolved.
The plight of KPs within their history has been summed up again by Rahul Pandita in these painful words” But somehow the gods couldn’t make peace with us. So they would wreak upon us disease, earthquakes, floods, famines and fires. And then they gave us rulers susceptible to greed, lust and deceit. And savagery.” However, it is this perceived exclusion of KPs that is most misunderstood and most falsely propagated by KPs. After all, diseases, famines, earthquakes, floods, fires and cruel rulers don’t differentiate on the basis of religion. It is this division of Kashmiris that fuels the animosity and feeds the Indian narrative.