Dear PM Modi,
Yesterday was a historic day, in one sweeping masterstroke Home Minister Amit Shah demolished the oft-repeated myth that the ‘Kashmir Issue’ could not be handled. For as long back as I can remember, Kashmiris like me, were told there was no solution to this problem. We grew up in an environment where ‘Protests’ over something or the other were a weekly feature. As time went by, the lack of timely action from the Govt at the Centre emboldened the Troublemakers, encouraging them to believe they were above all laws of the nation.
The meticulously planned actions of your Govt over the past few days have proved that nothing is impossible, provided the Govt in power has the desire. It has been proved today that when the PM and his Govt are determined to take corrective measures, nothing can stop them. It pains me to think that had the Congress shown even half the determination displayed today, we Kashmiri Pandits would not have been kept away from our homes for almost three decades.
There are those who will dismiss your gesture as one favouring Hindus, let me remind them that India as a nation has a responsibility towards my displaced Community which was never taken seriously. Those who call themselves secular must answer why they have chosen to ignore the fact that it was because of our religion that we were hounded out.
The State of Jammu & Kashmir does not comprise of the Kashmiri Muslims alone, as so many of our ‘Intellectuals’ and activists would have us believe! The people of Jammu and Ladakh have suffered step-motherly treatment for far too long. By giving Union Territory status to Ladakh, your Govt has fulfilled a long-pending demand of those peace-loving people. The name of the State did not even mention Ladakh, you gave it the identity that it had lost to Kashmir-centric policies.
Jammu will balance Kashmir and help to keep it intact. The revocation of the contentious Art370 will bring progress and development to the Valley which lies in economic shambles. The free entry of entrepreneurs will ensure employment and development, both badly required in Kashmir. With time, as people come in from the rest of India, the fabric of Kashmir will turn multicultural and progressive again. The locals will learn to look beyond their own, narrow approach and embrace new ideas and ways of life.
The Kashmiri youth need better role models, they need to look beyond the confines that they have been limited to, by their selfish ruling class.
Hopefully, this integrating move will enable them to look beyond religion and assimilate with the rest of India. Those who still argue that Kashmir needs to be ‘safeguarded’ and kept separate, are actually preventing the healthy assimilation of Kashmiris with the rest of the vibrant nation. A nation that has always respected and promoted various cultures and traditions of each State/region. Why is it that some Kashmiris demand special treatment while Kashmiris like me have never been privy to any of those privileges? What is it that distinguishes the Kashmiris who live in the Valley from those who were deprived of that right? If it is religion, then there is all the more reason that the Valley MUST be integrated with the rest of the nation. Should secular India promote separate enclaves based solely on religion? I’m sure even our esteemed Liberals will not disagree over this point!
For Kashmiri Pandits, the day has brought nothing short of a miracle. We are truly ecstatic because for the first time in 29 long years, we have seen the path leading towards Home cleared of thorns. Just when we were giving up hope of being able to go back in this lifetime, you waved that magical wand conjuring up the image of a peaceful, progressive and welcoming Kashmir! I’m positive that now it will not be long before we return to our roots, just like people all over the world freely inhabit the place of their birth. Many of us will require your help to take those faltering steps back, to resettle and reclaim the lives once lived. There are others, settled all over the globe who will support your initiative to take our Kashmir forward in this fast-moving world of today. You have our unstinted support in this move to lead our beloved Valley out of the abyss of Terror.
As a Kashmiri, I once again hail the decisive and bold changes announced by the Home Minister on this Red Letter Day. Every Kashmiri Pandit knows that if PM Modi had not taken these corrective measures, NO ONE would have ever given the neglected section of the population of J&K the justice they craved for!
With indescribable gratitude,
(A Kashmiri whose homecoming you made possible)