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Afzal Guru Event: What about massacres of Kashmiri Pandits, asks a JNU student

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By Niyati Bhat

(This story is taken from a post published by the author on her Facebook wall)

Is truth lost in the slogans in JNU or is it buried in graves?

February 9 was the day, when Afzal Guru was hanged in 2013 for the crimes he committed.

I don’t know exactly who but some political groups organized a protest against the “Indian occupation of Kashmir, raising slogans for their ‘martyr’ Afzal and condemning Indian state for the militarized occupation of Kashmir” (their words, not mine). It was aptly titled: The Country without a post office.

The woman who was addressing the gathering gave an introduction to the event, suggesting that the Parliamentary left needs to stand along with the struggle of “Kashmiris”

There was an ABVP group standing across the road from Sabarmati Dhaba, protesting against this event.

I walked over to the voices that were screaming: “Hum kya chahte hain, Azaadi!”

I wanted to understand what they had to say.

The crux of the matter was that too many times, human rights violations in Kashmir have gone unanswered, the foreign scholars or journalists who ask these questions are frequently deported, who will be held accountable for the mass graves? Kashmir needs to attain the freedom it deserves. (Again, their words, not mine.)

I stood there in anger.

I am not sure what brought about the courage in me, but I raised the question among this gathering:

“Who will be held accountable for the massacres of Kashmiri Pandits and when you attain the so called freedom, what happens to those Pandits who are also an integral part of Kashmir?”

There was silence and then a poet standing next to me replied,” But that’s not the point of today’s conversation.”

I had nothing to add but just ask: WHY? Because we don’t figure in your account of history?

Again, silence and then someone repeated the Azaadi slogan. I guess they still need some time to prepare answers for us.

Their medium of protest today was Poetry. Poetry was used to talk about Afzal Guru. Poetry! Where was this medium of protest when Poet Sarwanand Kaul Premi and his son Varinder Kaul were brutally murdered and hanged from the trees of their courtyard in 1990?
Why use the medium of poetry to talk about Afzal, who chose violence? What good did his actions bring for his community or for Kashmir?

A journalist from Zee News who was covering the protest took me aside for a news byte and after the camera went off, added: Keep raising these questions.

I couldn’t help but wonder. What is the point of it all; all the protests and all these protests against protest?

There are just too many questions but no one to answer them. And whenever there is one voice in the crowd that doesn’t agree with the rest, it is best to bury it and move on; like the mass graves perhaps.

 

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The Plight Of Kashmir’s Pandits

The Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora said a memorandum signed by thousands of Kashmiri Pandits has been addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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Kashmiri Pandits
Plight of Kashmiri Pandits continues: Community members. Flickr

Dozens of Kashmiri Pandits on Friday paid homage to civilians, Army men and their community members killed since 1989 and said the plight of Pandits still continues.

For 28 years, the Kashmiri Pandit community has been observing September 14 as ‘Martyrs’ Day-Balidan Diwas’ at B.K. Ganjoo memorial park in Central Delhi.

United Kingdom-based activist Shafalica Bhan Kotwal who has been fighting for the rights of the Kashmiri Pandits, said: “There is no major change in the lives of Kashmir Pandits, their plight still continues despite Bharatiya Janata Party being in power.

Kashmiri pandits
Kashmir. Pixabay

“Most of them were thrown out of their homes. They are living in pathetic conditions in shelter homes with no basic facilities.”

She said the community was once accustomed to living in minus 17 degrees Celsius. “Their families are now living in the hostile Jammu weather,” she added.

The son of Kasmiri Pandits’ leader Tika Lal Taploo, Ashutosh Taploo, was at the meeting. He said: “My father was killed not just because he was a Pandit..because he was looked as the Hindu community leader.”

Kashmiri Pandits
Kashmiri Hindus protest renaming of Shankaracharya Hill. Flickr

Taploo said his father was the first Pandit to have fallen to terrorist bullets in the Valley.

Also Read: Jammu And Kashmir’s Ad Film Wins Gold At IAA Awards

“Till today no government has brought any major change in Pandits’ lives, the atrocities we experienced and psychological trauma we suffered is fresh” he said.

In a statement calling for justice to “victims of terrorism,” the Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora said a memorandum signed by thousands of Kashmiri Pandits has been addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and submitted to Union Minister Hansraj Ahir. (IANS)