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Kashmiri Pandits visit their homeland as tourists PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sonika Raina   
Thursday, 24 May 2012 00:00

[From The Tribune / Tribune News Service] It was in December 2011 when Amit Raina and Kavita Raina landed at the Srinagar airport for their honeymoon in the Kashmir valley. It was their first visit to their homeland. But the irony was they were tourists in their native land and had no home and no people to welcome them.

With the return of normalcy to the Valley, Kashmiri Pandits like other non-Kashmiris are visiting the land as tourists, but they have a sense of belonging and attachment with the it.

The question that remains unanswered is will the Pandits permanently return to the Valley and if they return then who among them will return to Kashmir now, when the Pandit community enters into it 22nd year of exile.

Most of the Pandit youth are well-settled in various parts of the country and abroad where they are earning good money with dignity.

There is a discourse among the Kashmiri Pandit community on their return to the Valley. But if one looks deep into the situation and who will return to the Valley permanently, then one understands that not many Pandits want to return to Kashmir, barring some retired persons, who want to spend the rest of their life in the Valley.

Krishan Lal Raina, a retired government teacher, said, “Given a chance I will definitely return to my native place Anantnag. I have spent 45 years of my life there and I still miss it. But my children always oppose my decision. They are working outside the state and say that how can they feel safe at a place from where they were once dragged out. They have not lived there much”.

A decade back the word ‘return’ of the Kashmiri Pandits was often used by Kashmiri migrant intellectuals, leaders, writers, but in the last one decade its frequency has considerably reduced in the discourse of the exiled community. The word ‘homeland’ has rather replaced the former word.

The fact is that the new generation of the Kashmiri Pandits has moved on, most of them are earning well, living in good condition, but not all the Kashmiri Pandits have totally lost the attachment with their motherland. Despite being busy in earning livelihood in various cities, they keep in touch with Kashmir through Facebook, Twitter, media and occasionally go on a short visit to the Valley.

Akshita Razdhan, an architect, said, “You cannot blame me for this. There are better job opportunities outside and we will never opt for the conditions which our parents once faced. Kashmir is beautiful and I love that place, but the sense of insecurity and the gap in the ideologies will never allow us to go back to the Valley. I may go back in future but not now.”

Fed on anti-Muslim rhetoric

There is a popular saying that ‘a generation changes in two decades’. This is what has happened to the Muslims living in Kashmir and the Kashmiri Pandits living outside the Valley for the last two decades.

The new generation in the Valley and among the exiled Pandits hardly believes that both the communities were once part of same society and culture. Today, new generations on both the sides are strangers to each other.

The generation next has been fed on anti-Muslim rhetoric, that the Valley is the land where from their parents and grandparents were thrown out. They might be nostalgic about Kashmir, but they don’t see any future there.

Aditya Raj Koul, a young Kashmiri Pandit activist, said, “The gap has widened and the root cause is the exodus. Without any political bias, the youth living in the Valley do not know anything about the Pandits except what they have read in books or newspapers and same is the case with the Kashmiri Pandits.”

There has not been much effort on the part of the government to reduce the gap between the Muslims and the Pandit youth of Kashmir, as no confidence building measure has been started by it to bring the Pandit youth closer to the Valley.



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