Thursday December 14, 2017

After 75 long years, Kashmiri Pandits celebrate Dashar Maha Kumbh in their Homeland Kashmir

The local Pandits in Kashmir were delighted to celebrate the Kumbh mela in their homeland

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Ujjain: Ascetics during Simhastha Kumbh Mela, the largest congregation of Hindus in Ujjain on April 22, 2016. Image: IANS
  • Kashmiri pandits celebrate Kumbh mela at the junction of Jhelum and Sindh river
  • After 75 years, they witnessed the religious celebration in their homeland
  • People were also scared of the aftermath of being targeted at the vulnerable areas 

Kashmiri pandits celebrated the auspicious Kumbh mela after a long wait of 75 years in their homeland on Tuesday, June 14. The point of convergence of river Jhelum and Sindh in the Shadi Pora district of north Kashmir and 30 kilometres away from the capital Srinagar, witnessed the holy festival celebration.

As the Kumbh mela is a day of washing off one’s sins by taking a dip into holy rivers, the pundits observed the same at the Mela Kheer Bhawani. Where some were praying to get themselves rid of the sins, others prayed for their happy home returning.

kashmiri pandits
The Kashmiri pandits at the convergence point of Jhelum and Sindh. Image source: navbharattimes.indiatimes.com

However, it was crucial to see how the J&K government took appropriate measures to ensure safety and security of all the devotees. The sanitation was too well maintained. BJP was seen as with a helping desk at the bank of river Jhelum.

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It was also interesting to see a cultural mix where the Muslim population, on fast in the month of Ramadan, was seen putting up stalls to sell flowers, fruits, vegetables, juices and other consumables adhering to the needs of all the devotees came to attend the fest. The locals also looked after the need of the devotees by providing them with facilities of boats to cross the river.

The politically charged atmosphere of Kashmir “ where on one hand government last week disallowed Abhinav Gupta Yatra in Budgam district, while on other hand their decision to bring back pandits to exclusive settlements has been widely criticized”,  however did not affect the peaceful offerings at the Kumbh.

kashmiri pandits
women offering prayers to the river. Image source: shehjar.com

Dr. Bansi Lal, who left the place in 1990, told The Economic Times that “This yug has come after 75 years. I hope, pray and wait that I will also come back one day to my homeland.”

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Another local who attended the mela also said “They should set up settlements within the local population in every tehsil, so that we can mingle and not be an eyesore.”

Since 1941, it was in this year that the festival was observed and even now the Kashmiri pandits were frightened of the aftermath of this Hindu festival being celebrated at this level. There is always a hidden fear of being targeted at the vulnerable areas. Whatever the after-thoughts are, they were seen happy to witness the mela after a long time in their homelands.

-Megha is a freelance contributor at NewsGram.Twitter: @meghash06510344

 ALSO READ: 

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This is truly amazing. India is known for its unity in diversity and that is what is the true essence of India. Reading about how Kashmiri muslims put up stalls near the mela, was a delight. People should appreciate this.

  • AJ Krish

    Celebration is a prayer. A day of washing off one’s sins by taking a dip into holy rivers in the politically charged atmosphere of Kashmir could not have been thought before.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This is truly amazing. India is known for its unity in diversity and that is what is the true essence of India. Reading about how Kashmiri muslims put up stalls near the mela, was a delight. People should appreciate this.

  • AJ Krish

    Celebration is a prayer. A day of washing off one’s sins by taking a dip into holy rivers in the politically charged atmosphere of Kashmir could not have been thought before.

Next Story

Kashmiri Pandits not Willing to Return to their Jobs in Kashmir Valley

The ongoing protests by Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu, are threatening mass resignations.

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Kashmiri Hindu Pandits
Kashmiri Pandits are not returning to their jobs. Wikimedia
  • The situation since last year is a clear indicator of rising threat in Kashmir as people are coming on the roads and pelting stones
  • After the government asked them to rejoin their duties in Kashmir valley, they are threatening mass resignations
  • Most of the Kashmiri Pandit employees left the valley last year only and now, 500 of them are refusing to return

Jammu, August 10, 2017: There were many Kashmiri Pandit employees who left the Kashmir valley last year after witnessing continual unrest following the encounter of terrorist Burhan Wani.

One of the residents, Sonia Bhat, who is a government teacher by profession, left the Kashmir valley last year (days after Burhan Wani got killed) and came to Jammu. She is a Kashmiri Pandit who returned to the Kashmir valley around seven years back, before which she migrated from the valley in the early 90s. Her reason for return was the government job she got, said that the cause of worry is the security concerns, apart from many problems they have to face on a day to day basis.

She said that the situation since last year is a clear indicator of rising threat in Kashmir as people are coming on the roads and pelting stones.  She feels that there is not a safe atmosphere to live in Kashmir.

ALSO READ:  Kashmiri Pandits Demand The Status of “Internally Displaced People”

Kashmiri Pandits have gathered in large numbers and are protesting in Jammu. After the government asked them to rejoin their duties in Kashmir valley, they are threatening mass resignations. Under the provision of Prime Minister’s special package for settling Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir- the government had given around 3,000 jobs to them in the valley.  But, most of the Kashmiri Pandit employees had no option but to leave the valley last year due to unrest and now, 500 of them are not willing to come back.

According to the NDTV report, RK Bhat, President Youth All India Kashmiri Samaj said, “The ongoing proxy war in Kashmir is against India and nationalist forces, why are you forcing us to go back to Kashmir in such an atmosphere?”

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The government assures that the Pandit employees can be moved to safe locations within the valley and things will be done to ensure their safety. But, they can’t give in to the demands of transferring them out of the valley. Thus, the government has given a 15-day ultimatum to Pandit employees to return to their duties.

Altaf Bukhari, Jammu and Kashmir Education Minister said, “There is no way that their jobs can continue while they remain outside Kashmir, they will have to come back, I do sympathize with them if they have any concern we will address it. We will keep them in and around Srinagar.”

– prepared by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08


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Kashmiri Pandits Demand The Status of “Internally Displaced People”

Kashmiri Pandits want to ensure the preservation of their culture in the valley, as per the memorandum

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Kashmiri Pandits Community
Kashmiri Hindu Foundation head, Deepak Ganju spoke in the Indian community event held in honour of PM Modi. VOA
  • The Kashmiri Hindu Foundation has passed a memorandum concerning the community of Kashmiri Pandits 
  • The Foundation has demanded that the Kashmiri Pandits be given the status of “internally displaced people”
  • The memorandum states several demands by the community to ensure preservation of their culture

Washington, June 25, 2017: The Kashmiri Hindu Foundation has passed a memorandum urging PM Modi to recognise Kashmiri Pandits as internally displaced people. They also wanted the government to ensure that the illegal occupants in the area be removed. The foundation also wanted an assurance that their property (left behind by them) will be protected.

In the memorandum submitted, the Foundation has said, “If Kashmiri Hindus lose their temples, houses and property, their ethnic cleansing will become permanent,”
The memorandum further stated,”Kashmiri Hindus should be recognised as internally displaced people and a declaration should be made to this effect. Implement a plan to ensure that property left behind by the refugees is preserved and protected and illegal occupants removed.”

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The foundation also wanted to ensure that the grievances of those Kashmiri Hindus will also be addressed who have signed the contract for the sale of property under any duress.

Deepak Ganju, the head of the foundation said, “Our places of worship have been burnt, vandalised and damaged. We strongly urge the government of India and the state government that our temples and cultural institutions in the Valley be secured, preserved and protected,”
Florida-based Deepak was here to attend the community event being held in the honour of PM Modi. She said that about 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits have been forced to leave Valley en-masse.

Ganju said, “About 1,200 killed and it goes on with just a few thousand remaining in the Valley.”

“Financial and state support for our socio-cultural- religious organisations, that we have managed to run even in our exile, is required urgently. State recognition should be given to Kashmiri Pandit writers, artists and social activists and grants should be provided for them to further their work. Centres need to be built for the preservation of thousands of years of our history, culture, tradition and works of art.”, the foundation demanded in the memorandum.

prepared by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram. Twitter: @NikitaTayal6 

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Kashmiri Pandits should be given Minority Community Tag: NCM Chief Gairul Hasan Rizvi

The minority population of Kashmiri Pandits is between 4 lakh and 5 lakh in the country

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Kashmiri Hindu Pandits
Kashmiri Pandits are not returning to their jobs. Wikimedia

Jammu and Kashmir, June 15, 2017: According to the Minority Community status, National Commission Minorities (NCM) chairman Gairul Hasan Rizvi favored Kashmiri Pandits in the state on Tuesday and said he would take up the matter with the Centre.

The NCM is nonfunctional in Jammu & Kashmir according to the article 370, which grants Kashmir a status of the special autonomous state. Rizvi stated that it would enable the government to extend benefits to the Kashmiri Pandit, which hold a minority status in Kashmir.

Currently, there are six minority communities in the country, namely – Muslim, Jain, Christian, Sikh, and Parsi.

“Kashmiri Pandits should get the minority community tag, mainly because they are in minority in their state, Jammu and Kashmir,” said Rizvi concerning the issue.

Rizvi said he would take up the matter with Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and stakeholders involved.

The community members greeted Rizvi’s comment on the matter which was suppressed over the past 5 years. The members said they would take up the matter with the authorities again.

Manoj Bhan, the general secretary of Jammu and Kashmir Vichar Manch, said the organization and others would provide the authorities with the required documents in accordance with the Pandits minority community status.

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“We had raised the issue with the authorities two-three times (during UPA-II regime), but nothing happened then…We deserve the status,” Bhan said.

According to Bhan, the minority population in Kashmir is between 4 lakh and 5 lakh in the country.

Benefits availed by the Minority Community (Kashmiri Pandit) with accredited with minority tag are mentioned below:

  • Scholarship will be made available to students with family’s annual income below than Rs 4.5 lakh
  • Educational institutions managed by the community will be recognized as minority institutions. Up to 50 percent of the seats will be reserved for community students at such institutions

Some key welfare schemes the Centre implements for minority communities:

  • Scholarship schemes (pre-matric, post-matric and merit-cum-means)
  • Padho Pardesh (scheme of interest subsidy on educational loans for overseas studies for community students)
  • Free coaching and allied schemes
  • Skill training such as learn and earn, Nai Manzil
  • Prime Minister’s new 15-point program, which aims at ensuring an equitable share for minorities in economic activities besides their educational empowerment