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The question of return of Kashmiri Pandits to Kashmir

Many people have talked of return of Kashmiri Pandits to Kashmir, the latest one being Shah Faesal. In my opinion they are talking nonsense. Kashmiri Pandits will never return to Kashmir, for the following reasons :
(1) They were a tiny peaceful minority of 3 or 4% of the population of Kashmir whose ancestors had lived in Kashmir for centuries. They were about 4 lacs in Kashmir in 1990. Today they are just a couple of thousand. They were hounded out of Kashmir, many being slaughtered. What guarantee is there they will not again be slaughtered if they return ?
When they were there in the 1990s,  loudspeakers from mosques spouted venom against them, asking them to leave Kashmir or convert to Islam. Notices were posted on their doors telling them to leave Kashmir or be killed. Crowds would come before their houses shouting that the males should get out of Kashmir, but the females would not be allowed to leave ( no doubt very brave of them ).
In Srinagar many Kashmiri Pandits were killed ( for details see online ), and in many villages where there were about 10-15 Kashmiri Pandit families in a village of 1000 families, Kashmiri Muslim boys with machine guns would come and selectively slaughter the Pandits, often at the pointing out of their Muslim neighbors.
Some Kashmiri Muslims say that the Pandits were cowards for having run away from Kashmir. This is a ridiculous charge. What can a tiny minority do when they are being selectively targeted by the majority ? When several Kashmiri Pandits were brutally killed there was a panic in the community out of fear, and this made them flee. They were like Jews in Nazi Germany, the only difference being that most of them did not end up in gas chambers.
(2) Many Kashmiri Muslims say that they are sorry for what happened to Kashmiri Pandits, that Kashmiri Pandits are part of Kashmir, that Kashmir is incomplete without the Pandits, they want them to come back, blah, blah, blah
But they never admit it was Kashmiri Muslims who were responsible for the exodus, and instead they shamelessly blame the then Governor Jagmohan. A more blatant lie cannot be imagined, and this just shows they are not really sorry. Of course I don’t blame the present Kashmiri youth for what happened as they were not born then or were toddlers, but if they have any conscience they should spit on their elders’ faces for what the latter did or turned a blind eye to, instead of blaming Jagmohan like parrots repeating the lie they have been taught.
(3) Most of the militant and secessionist leaders in Kashmir today who demand azadi for Kashmir are Islamic fundamentalists. So should the Pandits convert to Islam in order to come back ? Or should they come back and live as second class citizens, as ‘dhimmis’, with a Damocles sword over their heads all the time, awaiting another slaughter ? And where will they live and what will they do in Kashmir ? Their houses have mostly been destroyed  or taken over by some Muslims, and their jobs and businesses lost.
(4) A quarter of a century has elapsed since the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits took place. Most of the present Kashmiri Pandit youth were either not born then, or were toddlers with hazy memories, if any at all. So they have no roots in Kashmir. And the middle aged have somehow adjusted to a new life in mainland India. What will they now do in Kashmir ? Their homes are in occupation of Kashmiri Muslims. Their jobs and businesses are lost.
So all this sentimental talk of return of the Kashmiri Pandits to Kashmir is rubbish. For Kashmiri Pandits Kashmir is gone with the wind.
By Justice Markandey Katju
former Judge, Supreme Court of India   

Disclaimer: The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not reflect the views and policies of the

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