Friday, May 16, 2008

And Omar Speaks.....

"We were mute spectators"

A Times Now Report

Two decades after the genocide of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley, National conference President Omar Abdullah has spoken up, saying that Muslims including him shouldn't have been mute spectators during the exodus."It is a fact that the majority of us - and I include myself in it - the majority of us Kashmiris remained mute spectators when the Kashmiri Pandits left. And even though now we may want to talk about their return, at that time perhaps we did not do as much as should have been done," said Omar on Thursday (May 15).While the timing of his statement is questionable, what cannot be discounted is the fact that this is the first time a mainstream Kashmiri politician has spoken so strongly about the plight of Kashmiri Pandits. Whether it's Rajya Sabha ticket that Omar is eyeing or a sudden prick of consience, the feeling of being refugees in their own country is not a one that the Pandits are likely to forget soon.At the height of militancy in Jammu & Kashmir in 1990, propaganda from Pakistan laced with the militancy of the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation front forced lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits out the valley leaving thousands homeless, and forcing them into exile. In his statement, which first appeared on his blog, Omar Abdullah even chatises himself for not speaking up on the genocide, lamenting the fact that none of them stood up and had the courage to say the atrocities must stop. "It's so easy to say that we"ll lay down our lives to bring Kashmiri Pandits back to the valley and I appreciate the sentiment. Pity that sentiment was missing when our mosques were being used to drive these people out. None of us said this is wrong and the Kashmiri Pandits had every right to continue living in the valley. We were mute spectators either mute in agreement or mute in abject fear, but mute none the less," he writes.While this is the first time a mainstream Kashmiri politician has spoken so strongly on the plight of these Kashmiri Pandits, Omar's sentiments will not make the Kashmiri Pandits forget the feeling of being refugees in their own country, just yet.(By Mir Fareed)