On 19th January 1990, Kashmiri Pandits were made refugees in their own country. Kashmiri Pandit community has been living in exile for 32 years now, and not a single government has able to put a judiciary enquiry over the deaths of more than 4000 people, neither they have been able to send the community back to their home-state.
In 2019, Modi governments’ first step in it’s second term was removal of Article 370. While the process of removal was undemocratic, many on the left of the debate became uncomfortable and extremely uneasy with this move. Many asked why the Kashmiri Pandits are happy about this decision? One going to the extend saying they are asking for revenge in return.
What people did not realize is that the root cause of Kashmiri Pandits exodus is the Kashmir issue. It’s been pending for last 70 years to be resolved and government of India has finally send a signal to Pakistan, China and to the world that we do not want status quo anymore. But, is that all why the Kashmiri Pandits have been tied down to? No.
Many people on the other side of the debate might have heard the ill-treatment Kashmiri Pandits did with the Kashmiri Muslims. It is said that 20 percent minority of state before independence was holding most of the resources in the state. Kashmiri Pandits were not leaders, but landowners and advisors to the Kashmiri leadership. The social-economic power allowed class division to turn into civil war post-independence when Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah took away land from Kashmiri Pandits through the land reforms.
While Abdullah made insensitive comments about the minority, and the power they were losing in the state – many saw them now being ill-treated by the majority. While many have cited class-division as the reason behind the exodus what they forget is more than division of class, it was the division between the state and it’s people that led to an enemy neighbor divert the minds of youth to religious issue rather than the issue of jobs, democratic values that Indian state must uphold in Kashmir.
While many Kashmiri Pandits might disagree, arms provided from Afghanistan did help the Kashmiri Muslims in keeping outside the political landscape. In 1990, when Kashmiri Pandits were leaving the state neither did state police do anything, nor did the central government. The same BJP that today talks about Kashmiri Pandits day and night to garner votes across the country was in power and did not even raise the voice against what happened even in the Parliament.
Today, 32 years later – we are fighting the same war with international liberal media that does not even try to recognize our voice. Whenever mentioning the Kashmir issue, liberal media always mentions atrocities by the Indian government and the Indian army on the civilians of Kashmir, but never mentions what those civilians did to their own minority – the slogans they raised, the words the spoke and exodus that took place under the state’s watch when no one did anything.
Liberal media that presents itself holding the torch of righteousness fails to look at it’s own wrong-doing when it does not mention what happened to the minority in the state.
To many Kashmiri Pandits, what liberal media does with the Muslim community is appeasement. A word very often used in Indian political dictionary that gave rise to what we today known as Prime Minister Modi. The way the state of machinery of Uttar Pradesh did nothing when Babri Masjid was being destroyed, similarly the state machinery did not do anything when Kashmiri Pandits were being driven out of the state. A similar attack took place on 6th January on Capitol Hill when white people who support Trump’s stupid rhetoric attacked the most prestigious institute of the country – the police was incapable of handling them while was okay with stopping protest on Black Lives Matter.
The international liberal media mentions what happens to the blacks, to the only Muslim-majority state of India, what happened at Babri Masjid but fails to mention what that same Muslim-majority state did to its own minority. After 32 years longing to go home, what all we asking from the media across the globe is that our lives matter as much as the of Muslims, Blacks, Sikhs, Christians and Hindus who are prosecuted in any other part of the world. Yes, answer to refugee status in your own country is not bitterness, and that is something the community needs to work on. But, the answer also not to present one side of the story and show as if your side did nothing wrong.
We do not need an apology from the Indian Parliament – what we need now is that the government accepts that it happened on the floor of the house and the fact that nothing was done about it. At this point, as someone who is a liberal believes that – Kashmiri Muslims Lives Matter, But Kashmiri Pandit Lives Matter too.