Anaahat Naad

The Unmade Sound

Archive for October 2010

Kashmir – A Train Conversation

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It was 2025 hrs and the “special” train was about to leave the station.  And the conversation picked up as soon as the train left the station.  Mr. A had been stalking Mr. B for long.  I guess he felt some connect.  Or maybe the fairer complexion of Mr. B just made him curious.

Mr. A:  Are you from Kashmir?

Mr. B: Yes. I am a Kashmiri Pandit. (He could feel the pride of being one)

Mr. A:  Where are you from Kashmir?

Mr. B:  Anantnag

This definitely irritated Mr. A.  No-one says Anantnag now.  He was bound to react.

Mr. A:  Okay Islamabad

Anantnag is town in South Kashmir.  The area was land of springs, hence “Anant”- “Infinite” and “Nag” – “Springs”.  The name was changed to Islamabad by Moghuls after the name of a Moghul General Islam Khan.  But most Kashmiris preferred Anantnag, after it was changed back to its original name by the Dogra rulers. 

Mr. B (very firmly): No, Anantnag

Mr. A maybe got irritated but he didn’t press the topic any further. But, he wanted to probe more.

Mr. B:  Where are you from?

Mr. A:  I am from Lal Chowk, Srinagar and do business at Connaught Place, New Delhi.

Mr A:  How old are you?

Mr B:  I am 23 years old. 

He had lied. He was born post the exodus of the Pandits from the valley.

Mr. A:  So you were a toddler in 1990?

Mr. B: Yes

Mr. A:  Are you willing to return to the valley?

Mr. B: Yes, but present conditions aren’t suitable.

Mr. A:  But, you are settled in Jammu (It meant, YOU HAVE MOVED ON!)

Mr. B (very firmly):  Kashmir is in our heart. In every heart-beat, there is Kashmir. We can never ever forget Kashmir.

Mr B ignored him after this question. Maybe he didn’t want to converse with some-one who was living in self denial.  But he kept on thinking did Mr. A forget that Mr B. and his kind had left Kashmir even though they were settled.  And they had left is for the seventh time and have come back each time in the past.  Was Mr. A ignorant of the fact that many KMs are moving out for better future, and many are buying properties in Jammu and “settling” there.

Every time I have a conversation on Kashmir, I get extremely emotional. My mind is full of questions.

When will I return to my home? But bigger question is, will my return be without any fear of attack on my existence. At the same time felt for him – my fellow Kashmiri. I felt for his self denial of many issues. Will he ever accept the truth?

For these questions, I don’t have answers.

But one thing I know for sure, I will RETURN!

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Written by Varad Sharma

October 31, 2010 at 11:00 am

Reversal of Exodus: Separate Homeland

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Homeland is one’s native place. Homeland is a place which belongs to a person or an individual or an ethnic community. In broader sense, Homeland means land which is home to a particular community.

 I dedicate the lines of famous Kashmiri Poet, Dina Nath ‘Nadim’ to my homeland –

Yi  Chhu Son Watan Nundbon Watan,           
Lachchi Vuhur Chhu Lachchi Phiri Zamut Nov,       
Path Gomut Beyi Bronth Amut Nov,  
Navi Ayi Pakan Gatshi Pron Watan, 
Yi Chhu Son Watan Nundbon Watan.

(This is our homeland, our beautiful homeland. Our million year old ancient homeland; our homeland has been born anew a million times. It has lagged behind and then again forged ahead. It is like real gold tested on touchstone of time. Our old homeland shall march forward with new gusto.)

Kashmiri Hindus called as Kashmiri Pandits are the original aborigines of Kashmir valley. Kashmiri Pandits existed in Kashmir from the time when civilization started in valley. Kashmiri Pandits have history of 5000 years. Various historical texts/books mention about the presence of Pandits in the valley; the oldest one is ‘Nilamat Purana’. In other words, community of Kashmiri Pandits is 5000 year old and will continue to exist as long as there is life on earth, as long as human beings exist on this planet.

The advent of Islam in Kashmir around 14th century brought a paradigm shift in socio-political, and religious system. They started to spread their religion in the valley by forcing its inhabitants to convert. And the population of Hindus in the valley continued to decrease and they became minorities in their own land where they used to be in majority. But somehow Kashmiri Pandit managed to preserve his religion, culture as well as tradition. Kashmiri Hindus have migrated several times from the valley due to Islamic fundamentalism. There are seven exoduses of Pandits till date. The seventh one (1989-1990) happened in today’s world of democracy, liberalism, secularism, universal brotherhood.

Around half a million Pandits migrated from valley due to terrorism by fundamentalists. Pandits left valley because there was attack on their culture, tradition, religion. Above all, Kashmiri Pandits left valley because there was attack on their existence. Thousands of them were killed in valley during gloomy years of nineties and many lost their lives in exile due to post-exodus trauma which affected the ethnic community of Kashmiri Pandits. And that trauma, especially among elder ones, is still there and will remain until Pandits return.

Kashmir is the idea of ‘home’ among younger generations of Pandits who were born during the period of exodus as well as post-exodus. Twenty years has been passed since this genocide of Hindus in Kashmir. It’s a blot on Indian Secularism and Indian State as well that Kashmiri Pandits are out of home from past 20 years.

Why Homeland? Many talk about ‘Kashmiriyat’ (Kashmiriyat is term coined by historical pundits describing socio-cultural harmony between Hindus and Muslims that existed somewhere in historical period). But in present times it is just a term, actually a misnomer. Whatever brotherhood that existed between Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir, that brotherhood died in 1989-1990 with the chanting of slogans like “Yahan Kya Chalega, Nizam-e-Mustafa”, “Azaadi Ka Matlab Kya- La Ilah Lil Allah”.

Though most in the majority community want an independent Kashmir but there are saner voices who are truly secular and do not support the movement. But such saner voices are curbed. The ongoing unrest is clear cut example of communal movement in valley. And it brings forth the communal design which is forcing Kashmiri Pandits to demand a separate homeland.

Where homeland? Kashmiri Pandits want separate homeland to North and East of Jhelum River with a status of Union Territory where there is free flow of Indian Constitution without any fetters of Article 370. A separate homeland where there is no fear of attack on distinct culture, tradition and religion of Kashmiri Pandits.

Homeland is my birth-right and I shall have it. I will return to my homeland; to my Panun Kashmir.

Written by Varad Sharma

October 5, 2010 at 8:00 pm