The silent migration of a largely ignored people
I was at a birthday party of a one year old boy earlier today. Great party; great food (the boy’s parents are Kashmiris and the food was authentic fare). They even had a magician to entertain the kids. All in all, nice Sunday afternoon fare.
What surpised me was the turnout at the party. Barring us and a few other “non-family types”, there were about 100 people. All Kashmiris. All turning this into this huge family get together.
So, I asked my friend. How did their family manage to have this impressively large family, all in Delhi? We are migrants ourselves from an eastern metropolis almost 30 years back; but, we still do not have so many relatives or even friends from the same community as ours in Delhi. Fair question; she said. Her answer was simple but very disturbing.
Her family is large, she said. “My father has seven siblings..” and so on. But, even 18 years back, all of those seven siblings were in Kashmir; now, all of them are here in Delhi. All of them, their children and the extended families. The Kachroos and Kunzrus and Rainas; all of them.
They were all well-off, educated and had a support network to fall back on. Those that were not, are probably in relief camps in Jammu; heck, who knows where they are? Do we even have a number? I came home and have been googling away, trying to get a number; even approximate, from media estimates. Over the last twenty years; or, maybe thirty. I don’t know. If you do, or can point me to a study, I will be grateful.
Our national media is largely data-less, voice-less. Two MPs are all J&K sends to Lok Sabha, isn’t it? They are elected by voters who have been ethnically cleansed by threats, intimidation and conversion. Meanwhile, the Kashmiri Pandits have got on with their lives, ignored by media. Political posturing has been largely symbolic; with Manmohan Singh government announcing a “one-time” relief package to those refugees who are desirous of going back to Kashmir and Farooq Abdullah, deriding the PM’s package as something that “simply will not work”. He added that till the Kashmir”crisis” is resolved, he does not see how the Kashmiri Hindus can return to their homes.
Raj Thackeray made some stupid noise about Marathi Manoos and how Biharis need to be thrown out of Mumbai. The whole country talked of nothing else, for months. Lakhs of Kashmiris have had to leave their homes in the last 30 years. I do not see protest marches, candle-light vigils, solidarity rallies or such expressions from the chatterati.
And, our political parties? This is manifesto printing time. What can the Kashmiri Hindus expect from the main political formations/ parties in the event they are voted to power? BJP? Congress? SP? Laloo-Paswan? Mayawati? CPM/ CPI….
I swear to you; there were 100 people or more today in the party all of whom have left their homeland and home in the last 20 years and do not expect to ever be able to go back.