On the Kashmir Saga
The year was 1988, perhaps 89. Rumours and apprehensions were aplenty. India and Pakistan seemed to be on the brink of a war. As a student at IIT Delhi, we were close to the scenes of action. Even though I was nowhere involved, my mother was extremely worried. Some nights, we were told to switch off all the lights in the girls hostel and stay together in a room. It was hard to say whether the scare of war was a rumour or reality.
A lady - Rachna ( name changed) had recently got married. Soon after marraige, she would make frequent trips to Jammu. On one such occassion, she explained why. Apparently, she had married a Kashmiri Pundit and had the horrific experience of having to rescue them from their own land. They were forced to flee Kashmir, and, having no other recourse, would take shelter in Rachna's house in Delhi. Hence, her frequent trips to Jammu, to bring them back to safety. She often spoke about their anguish- they would cry, as they had left behind everything. Their houses, acres of orchards, their lives. Literally all they owned. They recounted stories of how erstwhile workers and neighbours would come over, inspect their houses, and stake claim to them, even while they were waiting for the pundits to flee, and leave behind everything they had built, loved and lived for.
There were many more such stories. I am sure, post that episode, that there have been many more stories of horror. Of armies taking over, of militants; and many more unbearable tales, not just of the pandits, but others too . Of atrocities against innocent people. My post is not to create hatred. Far from it. Indians have been living together for centuries, inspite of different religions, races, castes and communities. India already shows the way of multiculturalism. There is no justification for such a beautiful land such as Kashmir, to become a living hell for its own people- whichever religion they belong to. The words "war" create deep disgust and hatred. And fear.
The rumours of a full scale war in 1989-90 did not come to fruition, thankfully. But, that does not mean there was no war. This has been a long, bloody, and draining episode between India and Pakistan. No one has gained, and no one ever will.
Aina Rao, www.amblingindian.com
Quirky reads on India by a new common woman of India