JAIPUR | JAN 26, 2013: Journalist and author Rahul Pandita today lamented the “lack of vision in New Delhi about Kashmir” and the “unwillingness” to discuss the issue of displacement of Kashmiri Pandits at national level.
Participating in a panel titled ‘Kashmir: Chronicles of Exile’ at the Jaipur Literature Festival alongside political historian Siddiq Wahid, Pandita — a Kashmiri Pandit — said he felt a sense of displacement after his exile from home.
“A Kashmiri puts everything he has in building a house and that concept is very important to him. But despite the fact that Kashmiri Pandits lost a home, no one is willing to discuss the issue of displacement at the national level,” said the author of newly released book Our Moon Has Blood Clots, a memoir about his family’s exile from Srinagar.
“There is a lack of vision in New Delhi as far as Kashmir is concerned,” he said, adding that this had contributed in making the community feel that their exodus was “permanent”.
Pandita also said that his community had been pained by the lack of investigation into cases of human rights abuse during the exodus of Pandits from the Kashmir valley.
“The massacres that happened during 1990 and since, we have been denied the truth about them,” he said.
Pointing out that even after 20 years he cannot think of returning to his childhood home, Pandita said it was important for the community to tell its stories.
“We cannot outsource this task. This is something we have to do ourselves,” he added.
Wahid in his remarks defined political exile as a situation where “one is not allowed to define his own home”.
Discussing the issue on January 26, he said, “On every Republic Day or Independence Day, the whole of Kashmir is blanketed. You cannot get even a single call in. So, we need to reflect as to who is exiling whom.”
Both panelists, however, agreed that they saw signs of hope for the future in Kashmir.
“The Kashmir of today is very different…It’s younger and more restless. It is a vibrant community in which I can see a shift. However, I believe that the exile will end only when the dispute is resolved,” Wahid said.
Pandita expressed his optimism while revealing that he was in touch with the younger generation of Muslims in Kashmir who have fairly deep knowledge of what happened during the 1990s.
“They might be in a minority but they exist. They are not oblivious to our pain,” he added.
Both Pandita and Wahid respectively called for “truth and reconciliation” and the need to “stop blaming the other” before some sense of normality can return.
“What we need to do is to forgive the other. But that does not mean I am telling you to forget what happened. In fact, it should not be forgotten,” Wahid said.