Writing about politics can be extremely depressing. You get to hear stories of absolute helplessness and even when you write them there is no guarantee of any that what you write will make any difference.
And if you are writing about conflict zones like Kashmir, it gets even more depressing. Most of the parties involved care only about their agenda (a piece of land, resources, power, etc.) and, as a result, Kashmiris have been caught in the crossfire.
Kashmir is a place filled with stories of injustice and oppression. People are merely used as pawns, as means to an end by the powers involved.
One such group which has faced immense oppression is Kashmiri Pandits. Some of them were killed and the rest were driven out of their home by terrorists who had the full backing of Pakistan.
They were failed both by the Indian state which could not protect their interests and also by some people in Kashmir who turned a blind eye to their plight.
That the space for Pakistan sponsored terrorism is still very active within Kashmir and that some people in the local community has been receptive of their message shows that New Delhi needs to honestly work on where it went wrong.
Now talking about the Pandits, their exodus is a sign that India has not been able to defend their minorities be it the Muslims in Gujarat, the Sikhs in Delhi or the Pandits in Kashmir. It has not punished the culprits who were responsible for killing and driving the Pandits, out of the valley.
Furthermore, the kind of stories that came out of the transit camps that the Pandits were provided was even more horrifying. They were not given the media space that they should have been and even the civil society has not been as proactive towards getting them justice as it should have been.
Our state has not been successful in creating an atmosphere conducive enough for them to return. Even if they return they will still be in a minority in with that place and they need to be provided an assurance by the government that the mistakes it made 30 years ago will not be repeated.
The condition of those currently living in the Kashmir valley is no better. The government has been silent on the accusations of extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, use of pellet guns on all protestors including children (which are known to cause serious eye injuries) and various other exploitative measures which have alienated the average Kashmiri even further.
No concrete action has been taken to address the issues mentioned above which have reinforced the belief in Kashmiri minds that the Indian government is not interested in their welfare and is just focussed on using Kashmir as a political tool.
So we have both the Kashmiri Pandits and Kashmiri Muslims being denied justice by the state and central governments.
And it’s not that difficult to understand why they would now want immediate solutions to get out of their situation. The only problem is that immediate solutions have never helped anyone. Those solutions may provide temporary relief and even lull you in a sense of security but the long term implications are too frightful to ignore.
It hasn’t helped that the rest of our country has looked at these groups as a problem and not as people who need our help and support. We only look at the state as either a breeding ground of terrorism or as a piece of land that we cannot give to Pakistan.
We are prepared to ignore any or all kinds of excesses committed by the state and the military on its people as long as Kashmir stays with us. We call them our people without being prepared to display even an ounce if empathy towards their suffering.
Kashmiris need justice and the more we deny them that, the more they will drift away from us.
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