Girdhari Lal Raina
Yet another bullet from terrorists snatched away yet another life in Kashmir when Rakesh Pandit, a Kashmiri Pandit Councillor and Chairman/President of Municipal Committee Tral, was brutally gunned down at his friend’s residence. This deplorable act was rightfully condemned by people from all quarters, including political leaders from all parties. However, as always, some of these condemnations were explicitly loaded statements. Political mischief behind these statements which one would not expect normally in a civil society, for such a tragic loss was visibly intended and obvious. But alas, when it comes to civil normalcy, the valley seems to be going backwards in time owing to such mindless killings and the shameless politics surrounding them.BJP in Kashmir: Bharatiya Janta Party, a cadre-based party that has evolved a strong tradition and practice of expanding reach has in recent years made its presence felt in Kashmir valley. Its cadres are visible. Leaders are on regular visits to different parts of Kashmir including remotest areas-unthinkable earlier.Even in elections held over a period of time BJP has been giving a tough fight to its opponents. This was the reason why there were strong reaction from none less than a former Chief Minister, who was upset over BJP leading in Tral Assembly segment during the Parliamentary election. In the first ever DDC election held recently, BJP was successful in registering victory in three valley DDC constituencies and loosing several others narrowly. This development has ruffled feathers of many caps in different camps.Identity of Rakesh Pandit was and continues to be used selectively, as is convenient for selfish, limited objectives. Fact remains that his, for that matter no one’s identity can be taken selectively in parts suiting myopic narratives. Rakesh Pandit was a Kashmiri Pandit. No one can deny this fact. Nor can anyone state that he was not a political figure holding a post constitutionally recognised in democratic set up. Those who are trying to suppress any of these aspects are either ignorant or simply playing politics.Junaid Mattu who occupies the rickety chair of Mayor of Srinagar Municipal Corporation used ‘statesmanlike’ statement of organising secretary of BJP J&K to make his collaborationist point. He quoted a part of statement of Ashok Koul, terming it as ‘very statesmanlike and laudable’ while saying that the killing of Rakesh Pandit in Tral was a political killing. But the part of statement of Ashok Koul, where he conceded a sure setback to the return of Kashmiri Pandit community because of killing of Rakesh Pandit – a Kashmiri Pandit, was conveniently ignored by Mayor of summer capital of J&K.How can anyone deny the Kashmiri Hindu identity of the latest victim of terror? Moreover, Rakesh Pandit did not belong to the political class in traditional terms. He chose to be one because of circumstances.Displaced Community in ULB/Panchayat election: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his speech at Red Fort on 72nd Independence Day of India on 15th August 2018 had announced that the Government will continue to follow former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s vision for peace and hold the local elections in J&K. “The biggest thing is that during past one year village headmen from Jammu and Kashmir in large numbers have been meeting me with the request to hold Panchayat elections there. The elections could not be held for some reason or the other. I am happy that the villagers of Jammu and Kashmir will have this opportunity in the coming months. A system in which villagers will be able to look after their villages will be in place soon,” he had said. But unfortunately and in keeping with their tradition of blackmailing, the so called mainstream political parties including NC & PDP decided to boycott these Municipal and Panchayat elections citing removal of Article 35-A in 2019 as the reason. Keen observers however know the real reason was the reluctance to share power by empowering nearly 33,592 Panch constituencies and 4,290 Sarpanchs, ULB wards and DDC members.Rakesh Pandit and other persons from the minority Hindu Community rose to the occasion and decided to fulfill desire of the Prime Minister and contribute to the establishment of democracy in real sense in Kashmir valley. The entire community, its leadership and all these candidates were well aware and fully conscious of the danger and threats to their lives. Yet they decided to join the fray in order to:a) Help people of Kashmir break the cycle of death & destruction & proceed on developmental road to peace and progress, andb) Contribute to arrest the constantly squeezing space for minority community in Kashmir valley.c) Honour commitment and vision of Prime MinisterKilling Not Just politicalKilling of Rakesh Pandit in Tral and that of Ajay Bharti Pandita last year in Anantnag is for sure a part of killing of elected representatives in the Valley. It also is added to the long list of leaders /activists of BJP who have been at the receiving end lately. Yet the consequence of minority Hindu identity of both Rakesh Pandit and Ajay Bharti Pandita cannot be pushed to insignificance. Consequences of that part of their identity will be starker more so because there is an obvious and deliberate attempt to suppress it. This leads one to wonder, why is it so and who gains from such obfuscations. Death and destruction initiated in 1989-90 aimed to silence minority Hindu voices and force them to leave, join or perish continues in this manner. Saner voices from among the majority community were muted then as they are now. This denial is not affecting minority communities only. Majority community of Kashmir has had to pay a heavy price also. And I am afraid it will continue, as world history tells us, till the time the majority of the majority community who claim rightly to be peace loving remain indifferent, maintain studied silence and refuse to take responsibility. For us-the minority we refused to bow down then and refuse to do so now. We will continue to fight and fight it out till the end.
(The writer is former MemberLegislative Council J&K & SpokespersonBJP J&K UT).
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