Tuesday, August 12, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



The plight of Kashmiri Pandits

This has reference to Mr Raja Jaikrishan’s article 
Pandits’ pain of dislocation” (July 28). There are certain distortions in his piece which need to be corrected. The turmoil in the state, especially the Kashmir Valley, prior to 1989-90, did not take place just because the indigenous Muslim youth did not get admission in the colleges or jobs in the state but because of the export of terrorism by Pakistan. The Kashmiri Muslim youth were fiercely exploited, indoctrinated and trained to wipe out the last vestiges of Pandits from the valley, who in their minds was the last bastion of India in the valley.

Consequently, Pandits were subjected to indignities and orgy of violence, killings, rape, molestation etc. For over a decade prior to the exodus, Pandits have faced a systematic assault on their pride, their sensibilities and their dignity. Anonymous phone calls were received by Pandit doctors, engineers etc. saying that if they did not leave the valley by a given date, they would be killed.

The darkest night for the Kashmiri Pandits was January 19-20, 1990 because they were mentally harassed by the simultaneous bludgeoning and blaring of loud speakers from all the mosques of the city calling upon the Pandits to leave the valley or face dire consequences. This left the Pandits cold. There was no time to seek advice. Everyone was in a desperate hurry to run for his/her life. Stealthily, terror-stricken, everyone readied himself to leave on the first light of the following day with whatever little he could lay his hands on — and that is how the mass exodus took place. It was spontaneous!


It is wrong to say that Mr Jagmohan had advised the Pandits to leave the valley. This is also an unkind and unjust remark made against them. Suffice it to say, no sane person will sacrifice his life of comforts and desert his home and hearth to suffer the trauma of exile in which he has to eke out a pittance for survival.

The Kashmiri Pandits, though small in number, connote intelligence, administrative acumen, teaching skill, versatility and perseverance. They have played a very positive and significant role in guiding their Muslim brethren, producing among them the professional s of all hues, for which the Muslims would always express gratitude. The Kashmiri Pandits themselves were a common would class of craftsmen, clerks, teachers, businessmen, agriculturists etc, except a very few among them who were in the higher echelons of power. Therefore, the concluding para of the article is vague and most perturbing.

Sqn-Ldr B.L. Sadhu (retd), President, Kashmiri Sahayak Sabha, Chandigarh


The article is a presentation of distorted facts, taken out of context. The writer, for instance, says that because of the demands by backward classes in the state the Pandits (upper castes) lost their hold on the power centres and they decided to move out of their homeland. But Pandits were never the power centres in Jammu and Kashmir which was ruled by Dogras (not Kashmiri Pandits). The last Kashmiri to rule the state was Kota Rani way back in early 14th century when most of the people in Kashmir valley were Hindus. Deprivation of Muslims is evident from the fact that today there is practically no Hindu left in the valley.

Yes, we were holding the jobs of clerks and petty officers because Kashmiri Pandits are cent percent literate, probably the only community in India, and were holding such posts even during the Afghan rule. True, the implementation of land reforms and the abolition of the money lending trade without any compensation have reduced the affected people to pecuniary overnight. Yet, out of seven lakh Kashmiri Pandits how many were involved in this exercise, a few that could be counted on fingers and would make hardly any difference to the overall psyche of the two communities.

The agitation by the Pandits took place in 1967 and not in 1969. It was a protest against the forced conversion of a Pandit girl named Parmishwari, a widow’s daughter and the protests were recorded throughout the country. Yes, that was one time, when Kashmiri Pandits rose with one voice and even the Central Government was made to intervene. Some leaders thought it opportune to ask for merit reservation in admissions to medical and engineering colleges of the state at the fag end of the agitation.

If religious identity is not at the heart of Pandits’ displacement, I wonder what was at the heart of the Partition of India that led to the displacement of millions of Indians. Kashmiri Pandits have never asked for quota benefits and didn’t even ask in the valley. They always got jobs and admissions on merit and that is why a sweeping glance throughout the country and even the globe we find a Kashmiri holding a reasonably high place and post.

Mohini Raina, Kashmiri Pandit Sabha, Panchkula

Pitiable overbridge

Zirakpur, situated on the outskirts of Chandigarh, the City Beautiful, has come up as a fast developing township. About four years ago, the Parkash Singh Badal government awarded it the status of a Notified Area Committee. Though development work in the NAC area is under progress, the ever-increasing volume of traffic on the Zirakpur-Kalka highway has added to the woes of the road-users.

The vehicular traffic on the Zirakpur-Bartana road has increased manifold. The only link between Zirakpur and Bartana, a bridge constructed over the Sukhna choe, is in a deplorable condition. One certainly fears for one’s life while crossing it as big potholes, bumpy surface, besides the narrow passage force heavy traffic to move at a snail’s pace. This results in traffic jam at both ends, particularly in the morning and the evening. Besides the bridge has no streetlight. During the late-evening hours, the dazzling lights of vehicles coming from the opposite direction can sometimes prove to be fatal.

The recent downpour has worsened the pitiable condition of the overbridge. The authorities concerned should take necessary steps to redress the sufferings of the road-users.

Balkam Ram, Bartana


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