Monday, January 20, 2014
We’re a forgotten community: Kashmiri Pandits(The Hindu)
A group of Kashmiri Pandits gathered for a silent sit-in at Jantar Mantar here on Sunday to campaign against the community’s forceful eviction from the Kashmir Valley 24 years ago.
They demanded that their human rights be restored. Led by a youth group, Roots in Kashmir (RIK), protestors said they had faced discrimination over the years and were given step-motherly treatment. “We have been made a forgotten community. Our entire culture is fading,” they said.
The protesters said Kashmiri Hindus were forced to flee because they were a minority. “Minds were imbibed with fear and insecurity and they were made to forcefully flee their native land in the wake of a freedom movement. Not only were they living under the sustained threat of ethnic cleansing by the terrorists, over five lakh Kashmiri Hindus were forcefully evicted, defamed, killed and their wives raped brutally simply because they were Hindus.”
The youth group has also been associated with commemorating the ‘Kashmiri Pandit Exodus Day’ for the past six years. “This day marks the 24th anniversary of the forced exile on the fateful day of January 19, 1990, when hundreds of thousands of violent protestors, along with armed militants, occupied the streets of Kashmir, which led to the exodus,” said Amal Magazine , coordinator of RIK.
“That dreaded night was possibly the longest night of our lives. Mobs from all over the valley had occupied every single road in Kashmir. They shouted slogans against Pandits asking us to either join them, perish or leave the valley,” he added.
Demanding a concrete effort by the government to rehabilitate these people and restore their dignity, Amit Raina, a member of the group, said: “No single conviction has taken place against the people who have widely admitted that they were a part of the killings”.
He added: “Besides, these cases should be made to come out of the Kashmir region and brought to the forefront so that our community, which is on the verge of extinction, gets national attention and receives adequate justice.”