THIRTY years of having gone through the unimaginable, of having tragedy thrust upon them and wearing it like the burden it was’ — an essay by a Kashmiri Pandit sums up the plight of her parents and thousands of other members of the exiled community, living as refugees in their own country. January 19, 1990, is remembered as ‘exodus day’ by the Kashmiri Pandits. The suffering, the loss, the neglect, the injustice, the hypocrisy of advocates of human rights, it has all been documented time and again. Yet, three decades on, the pain refuses to subside. Home remains out of bounds. The wounds of resentment continue to fester.
Political parties across the divide have failed to nurture a conducive atmosphere to facilitate not only the return, but the re-assimilation of the displaced community that formed an inextricable part of the Kashmiri ethos. Considering the circumstances, any noticeable change is unlikely in the near future. There is no denying the fact that the Valley has many layers to it, where facts are fiercely contested, where victimhood is a shared identity but truth has to wade through a communal vocabulary. That may be the reality of the day, but what’s been disconcerting is the silence on the part of both the communities to acknowledge the painful experiences of each other. Reconciliation needs acceptance, to begin with, that wrongs of enormous proportions were committed. And also, that if events of the past symbolised brutality, what Kashmir is going through today is also disturbing.
Nelson Mandela made forgiveness not only an element of a humanitarian movement, but also public policy. ‘If the pain has often been unbearable and the revelations shocking to all of us, it is because they indeed bring us the beginnings of a common understanding of what happened and a steady restoration of the nation’s humanity,’ he wrote. Pandits, Muslims, whatever be their religion, a plausible hope for Kashmiris is Kashmiris themselves. The State has offered little; it is they who must reach out.
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