IAKF Commends U.S. Secretary of State Mrs. Hillary Clinton For Visiting India Print
Friday, 17 July 2009 00:00

The Board of Directors of the Washington based Indo-American Kashmir Forum (www.iakf.org) has hailed the maiden trip of the new U.S. Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton, to a 4-day visit to India. Mrs. Clinton is well known to the Indian public and enjoys immense popularity with a nation wedded to democracy, secularism and liberalism.

However, we wish to point out to the Madame Secretary that the plight of Kashmiri Pandits, who were forced to flee from Kashmir during the armed insurgency two decades back, remains unchanged. Kashmiri Pandits have been referred to as “refugees in their own country” as nearly 95% of the native population was displaced, and an entire generation has grown up without any first-hand knowledge of their homeland. It is an unfortunate fact that there has been no concerted effort by the Central Government in New Delhi to develop a specific policy regarding the return of Kashmiri Pandits or engage them in any serious dialogue to ensure their timely return to the homeland. In fact, Kashmiri Pandits have been excluded from much of the interaction that the Central government holds with other constituents from the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Even sadder is the plight of the few thousand Pandits who remained in the valley through the armed insurgency. Having braved through the period of extreme violence, they feel even greater threat to their livelihood and security now as the State government has consistently refused to open up any political and economic space to valley based Pandits and make them feel at home. Instead, they are being treated as second class citizens without adequate jobs, living quarters or security. Consequently, the number of Pandits in Kashmir is dwindling rapidly as the remaining few thousand Pandits are also trickling out slowly. It appears that there is a conspiracy to deprive Pandits of their rights within Kashmir, and with their departure, theocratic and hegemonic forces are increasing their grip on the day-to-day life in Kashmir, which is manifested through repeated and frequent shutdowns, strikes and lockouts. The Central government in New Delhi has maintained a mute silence regarding the dwindling number of Pandits in the valley which is contrary to the Indian ethos of pluralism and religious tolerance.

IAKF requests the Madam Secretary, to meet with a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits during your stay in New Delhi and give them hope and solace to bear the community’s slow march to oblivion. If things do not change in Kashmir, Kashmiri Pandit culture will surely disappear, and forces of intolerance, religious zealotry and violence will prevail. Given the neighborhood around Kashmir, one can only speculate what implications such a dire situation would have on our own country.

IAKF Board of Directors

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 September 2010 04:10