Ground Reality: Rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits

Rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits: Is it too late?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is like a ray of hope for the displaced Kashmiri Pandits, who were forced to flee their homeland more than two decades ago. President Pranab Mukherjee, in his inaugural address to the joint session of Parliament, spoke of rehabilitating the Kashmiri pandits.  President Mukherjee’s address reflects Modi-led NDA government’s willingness to empathise and adress their struggle.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has taken the first step in this direction by asking officials in his ministry to chart out a plan that would pave the way for safe return of the community to the valley.

As per reports, the home ministry may provide financial assistance to the displaced families so that they can rebuild their homes in the Kashmir Valley.

After a very long time, the displaced community has recieved some attention from the government. For a very long time, the Kashmiri pandits have demanded that the community be safely rehabilitated in their homeland.

This raises an important question –  Has the government apathy continued for too long? Is the younger generation of Kashmiri pandits ready to go back to their forefathers’ land? The exodus of Kashmiri pandits took place in 1990. And it’s almost 25 years since their parents or grandparents moved out of the valley. Will the new generation be able to adjust and settle down in Kashmir valley?

Read what some Kashmiri pandits have to say about being rehabilitated in the Kashmir valley.

Sachin Raina, a 25-year-old Kashmiri youth, was asked about whether he would like to be rehabilitated Valley. He said that it was out of question. Raina explains that almost two generations of Kashmiri pandits have grown up outside Kashmir. It’s difficult for them to identify with the Valley. Of course, the older generation is emotional about Kashmir, but the new generation cannot feel connected, added Raina.

He even thinks that the community is ‘hypocritical’ as only a few would actually move back to the Kashmir valley.

Another Kashmiri pandit, Preeti Koul has similar views about going back to the valley. Preeti works in Delhi as a human resource manager. She is a young married woman has lived in Kashmir for many years. Preeti had shifted to Delhi to pursue her career. She admits missing Kashmiri food and weather, but Preeti has adapted herself to a lifestyle in Delhi.

So is Preeti interested to move back to the valley? Her answer was an emphatic NO.

Her justification is that she is not comfortable to go back as the culture and attitude in the valley makes her uncomfortable. She says everything in the valley is conservative –  from the clothes to the culture. Most important, safety is a major concern, says Preeti.

The younger generation may have adjusted well to the culture and lifestyle outside the valley. But some among the older generation are nostalgic and emotional about their lost home, which they had to leave behind.

Sameer Mahaldar, an elderly Kashmiri pandit, has rebuilt his life in Ludhiana. He lives with his wife, son and daughter-in-law in this city. His son works in a bank and his daughter-in-law is a lecturer. Mahaldar is willing to move back to the Kashmir valley, if the government gives assurance of safety. But Mahaldar knows that his young son and daughter-in-law will never go back.

(AW: Pratima Tigga)

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