Deportation of a nation
Tarun Vijay, 16 January 2010, 11:00 PM IST
Nineteen always comes before twenty-six. But here, in our gloriously decorated centres of governance, we celebrate January 26 with a blank look at our republic’s bruised soul showcased through January 19, considered the day when the biggest forced exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from the valley was accelerated.
A republic is merely a signature of the Constitution adopted for governing a people, who, in turn, constitute a nation. That nation actually represents the continuity of the civilisational flow of the land and its inhabitants. Ironically, in our case the republic, instead of nurturing those roots, is trying to overwhelm the memories of the soul of this nation with decorated mass annihilators. It’s like putting more earth on the debris to stifle any voices of the living underneath it instead of unearthing and safeguarding the life underneath.
Kashmir, one of the fountainheads of Indian civilisational memories and a symbol of the highest achievements in the scholarship that made India a centre of universal acclaim, is one such example. Everything about its relation with the rest of the Indian nation’s body is sought to be deleted as if a nation is a computer storage you can add to or delete from at your whim.
Mercifully, these neo-state-owners are not gods. Hence, the debris, even when put under mounds of earth, show the facts, however unpalatable they might be to the Wahhabi variety of secularism. The truth about Kashmir comes out in a miraculous demonstration of life. The memory of Rishi Kashyap, whose name Kashmir wears, the history contained in “Raj Tarangini” and the valour of the citizen King Lalitaditya, the sacred bareness of Kashmir’s Meera Lal Dyad, the spiritualism of Muslim fakir Rishi Nund, victory campaigns of Zoravar Singh, the region’s defining glory in Amarnath, Shankaracharya’s Hill and Mata Vaishno Devi, and Vivekananda’s unique realisation at Kheer Bhawani. The age-old fountainhead of Hindu wisdom reflected in Sharada Peeth and the origin of Shri Vidya, Shaiv traditions and the Wazvan, Samovar amalgamation that looked once inseparable.
Can there be a Kashmir without these? What happened on January 19 is part of the efforts to erase all that.
On that day 20 years ago, one of the largest and most painful exoduses of a community took place. Although, agreeably, it’s tough in such circumstances to pinpoint a single date, this has come to be registered as one such day of mass escape of the Hindus from the assaults of jihadis in the valley. This was the day when the mosques blared out a message from their loudspeakers: Pundits leave the valley, leaving behind your women. We want Pakistan, without Pundits.
The killings were brutal. Famous philosopher-poet Sarvanand Premi and his son. Their eyes were gouged out before they were killed. Sarla Bhatt. A nurse in a Srinagar hospital. Mass-raped and killed. Tika Lala Taplu, Lassa Kaul. Prem Nath Bhatt. H L Khera and Mushirul Haq (their killers were acquitted recently after a 19-year-long trial). Those were the days when such killings did make some news in Delhi.
It’s amazing to find a studied silence in the Indian and the foreign media on an exodus that made the valley‘s cultural vibgyor vanish. It’s shocking to see a secular tribe in the national capital too hospitable to patriotic Indians’ slayers like Musharraf and Yasin Malik, the former being the instigator of the Kargil war and the latter facing cases of murders including those of Indian Air Force officers. Google and find out about him. He was the guest of honour at a recently concluded India-Pakistan dialogue for peace which was conducted without a single participation from refugee Kashmiri Hindus.
We are about to celebrate yet another day of the republic without willing to see that this republic hasn’t been able to assure safety to the patriotic people of Kashmir and has stage-managed an autonomy report that is widely seen as a document of separation mocking at the resolution of Parliament swearing to guard India’s integrity and take back the land illegally occupied by Pakistan and China.
A resolution passed in December 2009 by Panun Kashmir, an organisation of Kashmiri Hindus said: “It is a matter of extreme apathy that the exiled Kashmiri Pandits are forced to live in subhuman conditions and subsistence in so-called migrant camps in Jammu and elsewhere for the last 20 years. There is no policy for reversing the genocide and rehabilitating the community in its homeland and the governments of India as well as the J&K state have treated the holocaust with bizarre inaptitude and abandonment. In the last 20 years the government has made empty announcements and piecemeal return formulae, only to further compound the plight of the community.”
When a people are uprooted, not just the bodies that consume food and procreate are transferred from one station to another. It’s an entire life cycle and the reservoirs of collective memory that get dehydrated. It affects and destroys a language, traditions that weave the fabric of a societal dynamic, songs and beliefs, religious rituals and places of worship, behaviour and protocols that were created and nurtured by the elders as far back as a thousand years, oral history and the patterns of living including homes, food, utensils, methods to greet and calls to organise for a resistance. It affects the attire, the way children are reared, marriages solemnised and the dead cremated.
An entire world is lost.
A single citizen of the republic contains in him the entire fabric of the nationhood as much as a drop of the ocean carries the ocean in itself. Kashmiri Hindus deported from the valley is like the Indian nation deported from this region. Mere geography doesn’t constitute nationhood.
Afghanistan was Gandhar. We lost it. We lost Taxila, Bappa Rawal’s Rawalpindi, Dahar and Jhoolelal’s Sind and Dhakeshwari’s Dhaka with the Ramana Kali temple, destroyed by Pakistanis in 1971 yet to be rebuilt, as neither Mujib nor Hasina’s government, so lovingly described as “friendly” allowed its reconstruction. When the people, representing the spirit of a nation are deported, the nation’s cultural ethos too gets fragile and finally eliminated. The memory, once a living life force, gets museum-ised.
Imagine how this will sound: Once upon a time, Kashmiri Hindus lived in the valley.
Now we have our own kith and kin, in our independent republic living as refugees for the ‘crime’ of being Hindus and loyal to the Indian nationhood, who refused to side with the pro-Pakistan separatists.
We in our entirety share the sin of forgetting our soul. Our sin is we loved to dine with the killers.