The union home minister, Rajnath Singh, has urged the Jammu and Kashmir government to identify land in the Valley for the return and rehabilitation of the Kashmiri Pandits. This has come on the death anniversary of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the Jana Sangh leader who strongly opposed granting Jammu and Kashmir a special constitutional status, as according to him, there could not be two constitutions, two flags and two prime ministers in a single country.
The BJP has vowed to take Dr. Mookerjee’s Mission Kashmir forward.
A debate over Article 370 of the Indian Constitution has already flared up at the behest of a newly-elected BJP MP from Jammu who incidentally has been inducted into the central council of ministers. Talk of identifying land in the Valley for rehabilitating migrant Pandits, however, goes against Dr. Mookerjee’s philosophy. All it would achieve would be to create yet another state within a state.
Why should the Pandits come back to the Valley? In their flight in 1990, Kashmir lost something priceless. The community’s honourable return and rehabilitation will restore this. But a separate homeland will not serve any purpose. If anything, it will only add to the community’s woes. It could also result in what Mookerjee called the balkanization (of Kashmir).
Pandits have lived together with Muslims for centuries, and shared their joys and sorrows. But something went wrong in 1990, and they left. Different theories have been put forward by various quarters to explain the exodus. But the truth is still unknown. The new Prime Minister must order a probe to establish what exactly happened. It would need a scrupulous revisiting of 1990 to establish the truth, and that is the only way to help the people of Kashmir.
The government of India can go ahead with its plan and settle the Pandits in a separate “homeland,” but what will that achieve? Rushing the decision through through may get the BJP some more votes in the forthcoming assembly elections, but Kashmir could end up in flames. This is not how one goes about accomplishing Mission 44-Plus. The sufferings of the Pandits must not be mocked and belittled for the political gains of a party that has waded through blood to wrest India’s throne.