Kashmir has always been a pluralistic society

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai
Chairman : World Forum for Peace and Justice

June 20 is ‘World Refugee Day.’ The official website of the United Nations says that this year, we will focus on solidarity with refugees – for a world where refugees are welcomed. Refugees need our solidarity now more than ever. Solidarity means keeping our doors open, celebrating their strengths and achievements, and reflecting on their challenges. Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations said, “Refugees need global solidarity and the ability to rebuild their lives in dignity.”

Kashmir News Service (KNS) quoted well-known Supreme Court Lawyer Ashok Bhan (leader of Kashmiri Pandit community) who called for return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandit Refugees on World Refugee Day. KNS added that Bhan lamented the severe hardships, trauma, and disintegration faced by this unique population, living in refugee conditions. He criticized the Union government for failing to implement a structured plan for their return and rehabilitation over the last decade.

I totally agree with my compatriot, Ashok Bhan Ji that Kashmiri Pandits have had hideous proof since 1990 of what their exile in India means. Pandits were not only uprooted; they were also told lies. They are being kept in Delhi and Jammu in conditions of insult and injury merely to be used as concocted evidence against the resistance in Kashmir.

Ashok Bhan Ji, believe me that the government of India will sabotage every effort towards your rehabilitation with honor. Does your community deserve to be treated with a lack of respect bordering on contempt? Does a single Kashmiri Pandit deserve to be reduced to begging? You have a proud history: does it deserve to be brought to a cruel end? Especially when a far happier alternative exists.

Ashok Ji, you will agree with me that the resistance in Kashmir is against alien occupation and is not communal. It cannot be communal, should not be. The compulsions of Kashmiri’s history and the demands of its future alike forbid religious conflict or sectarian strife. The Valley of Kashmir has remained the symbol of communal harmony for centuries. Can anyone deny the fact – of no small significance – that while the Subcontinent under British rule was the scene of recurrent murderous strife, communal riots were unheard of in Kashmir? That unquestionable fact brings out the real character of Kashmir’s heritage. A person no less important than Mahatma Gandhi has eloquently elucidated those sentiments in 1947, “While the rest of the country burns in communal fire, I see a shining “Ray of Hope“ in Kashmir only.”

Ashok JI, the best solution of the latest dilemma is that the Pandit brethren should return to the Valley and the majority community must open their hearts and minds in order to give them moral support and sense of security. The rights and culture of Kashmiri Pandits must be respected and protected at all costs. All Pandit brethren need to know that the entire Kashmir is theirs as much as it belongs to majority community. The Pandits should live side by side with their majority community to re-create the environment that used to be a “pluralistic society.” Let us begin by creating that environment one more time.

Let my Pandit brethren know that this is not a plea from a solitary individual, the most respected leadership of majority community has also spoken. Here are few illustrations.

Syed Ali Geelani, former Chairman, Tehreeke Hurriyat said on November 12, 2013, as quoted by DNAIndia, “I welcome you (Kashmiri Pandits) on behalf of the majority community. You are being called migrants, but you are not migrants. You are our brothers, you are a part of this society, you are a part of our body.”

Yasin Malik, Chairman JKLF was quoted by the Times of India, June 6, 2014, “It is the wish and desire of every Kashmiri to see our Pandit brothers, sisters, youth and children back in their homes and localities and no ruler or nation can stop them from returning back or impose his will and decision on them in this regard.”

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, former Chairman of APHC said last week, on June 14, 2024, “I would once again ask the Kashmiri Pandits to return to their motherland which awaits them, and live here as they did in the past, in our common and shared heritage.”

Dr. Fai is also the Secretary General, World Kashmir Awareness Forum. He can be reached at:

WhatsApp: 1-202-607-6435. Or. gnfai2003@yahoo.com

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