Author: Saadut
•10:54 PM

Let’s cut out the sentimental crap for a moment. Most people do leave their homes, villages, cities, homeland for better job prospects and economic gain. While nostalgia and longing for home remains but greater concerns of economic well-being override that all. We have seen how droves have been migrating out of Kashmir for more reasons than 'political difference' or 'we were driven out' claims. And we have also seen how thousands of other communities or ethnic groups have continued to live in Kashmir even during the worst days of this turmoil. Not all those who migrated were driven out by politics and not all those who stayed back were persecuted by politics. Yet not all those who migrated during the peak of turmoil, for whatever reasons, have been looked at with compassion or have been helped by the Indian state. We did see migrations from rural areas, where military ruled (and still rules) with an iron fist, turning whole villages and countryside into concentration camps. We have seen how poor villagers from these military beaten, crushed and surmounted areas fled for their lives, leaving behind everything they had, yet the state never recognized thousands of such poor villagers as migrants. We have also seen how the Indian military occupied and appropriated their, our, orchards, fields, pasture lands, graveyards and turned them into garrisons. Yet the Indian state never recognized our rights over our property nor extended any reimbursement. These poor of Kashmir, we, the burglarized, not only were stripped of our material ownership but were also hunted for decades, tortured or aimed at and shot. And if that was not enough we were also labeled as 'terrorists', only for the fact that we demanded our rights. Have you noticed, when India says 'migrants' it only means Pandits and not all migrants who suffered and migrated from Kashmir. Even when the same Indian state has registered 'migrants' from all major religious groups of Kashmir (check website of migrant commissioner for details), while leaving out the poor who fled the terror of Indian army from rural villages and migrated to towns or cities. The dichotomy of the Indian state in plainly ignoring multi-ethic nature of migration is proof of its political aim. The worst part is that some self attested liberals are also assisting the Indian plan of painting the political issue of Kashmir as some tale of religious persecution. 

Talk about return of migrants, Yes, talk about dignified return of all migrants irrespective of religion or political beliefs. Migration is a humanitarian issue, not a political convenience that you divide victims into religious sects and political compartments.

Talk about distress sale in 90's, talk about everyone who lost. Talk about everyone who was persecuted or who fled for his life. Life is independent of religious beliefs. While I continue to live in Kashmir, my family sold our beautiful home, with a big lawn in old city Srinagar, for a meager sum then, trying to flee the daily torture of Indian forces. I am told, my family fled amid curfew, part in boats, part walking miles to the north eastern end of city periphery. Now that property is worth 20 times (yes twenty times) the price we sold it for. Will the Indian state treat our loss also as distress sale? Yet in another incident, my family land (at a famous hill station in Kashmir) has been illegally occupied by the Indian army for the past decade, and they have been refusing to return our property to us, nor have ever compensated for this occupation. Will the Indian govt speak for our rights too? 

Kashmir conflict and its non-resolution is our collective loss. We all have been victims here, why then claim preferential victim hood?

Tail Piece: 
If the Pandits want to live in exclusive settlements, often citing danger from fellow Kashmiri Muslims, then there is no point in forcing a union with these unwilling Pandits. But, pray, tell me, if you abhor the Muslims so much, will you then promise to have your own bakers, milkmen, butchers, groceries, tailors, sweepers; all feudal whipped labor class that you always extracted from Muslims in Kashmir. For if the Kashmiri Muslim is such a dangerous species, you would surely not want to be poisoned by the terrorist milkman, the baker or the grocery shop guy. Worse still the dangerous extremist sweeper, gardener, iron smith, plumber, electrician et all could be concealing weapons in their tools. Hence would you please promise to ensure that your ‘Exclusive Smart Cities’ have your own workforce ensuring safety from extremist Kashmiri, who ironically form the 96% population of the valley. And since you seek to install such ‘Smart Cities’ in the most fertile middle of the valley, robbing all peasants of their lands, would you be travelling on the same pothole ridden, medieval roads that we the non-privileged commoners of Kashmir have been enduring? Or would you seek separate and exclusive highways that stay connected 365 days unlike the commoner’s highway that shuts more than it works, and separate electric grids that feed 24x7 electricity to you, unlike rest of Kashmir where electricity is a rarity even in hospitals. And more importantly, would you drink from the same water, breathe from the air that these ‘extremist Muslims’ have been suffocatingly trying to survive all these decades? 

Fact remains, the cry for ‘Exclusive Settlements’ is not about security, when thousands of Pandits are already living among Muslims in Kashmir, but they are about privileges sought by a feudal class. The ‘exclusive settlements’ are all about social exclusiveness, special benefits and a right winged political aim, India having learned from what Israel did to Palestine.

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