BOOK REVIEW: Sociological analysis of Pandit Migration in Jammu and Kashmir

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Tanveer Ahmad Zoie

Migration of population(s), a demographic process, is an international phenomenon. People used to migrate in the past as well but these days, there is an increasing trend toward the same where people migrate from underdeveloped to developed countries resulting in what has been termed as the “brain drain”. While human migration has developed different patterns over a period of time, it has been explained in terms of various underlying factors like social, economic, and political and so on. In every country, there are laws which deal with migration, as large scale migration affects both the countries of origin and countries of destination.
A recent empirical study regarding this demographic process analyzing the sociological ramifications of the Kashmiri Pandit migration is (late) Dr B. A. Dabla’s, “ Sociological Implications of Pandit migration in Jammu and Kashmir(2015)” .The author, who passed away in September , 2015, was a Kashmiri sociologist and researcher of national and international repute. He was the former head and Professor in the Department of Sociology at Kashmir University, Srinagar. The book, in contention, is an attempt to illustrate the triggering factors of migration and the consequences on the basis of firsthand accounts.
The book is an empirical study of causes and consequences of Kashmiri Pandit migration. It may be recalled that Pandits migrated from Kashmir province prior, during and after 1989. It accords a vivid picture of their migration from Kashmir province to Jammu, Chandigarh, Shimla and New Delhi and links the phenomenon with religio -political factors. The out migration of near total community especially to its poor and rural sections has proved deleterious. The book provides a graphic description of the migrants living in migrant camps established by the State Government in and around the city of Jammu and its adjoining areas.
The book as a whole is concerned with four main dimensions of Kashmiri Pandit migration. The first and the foremost is concerned with scientific investigation, about the background, nature, causes and consequences of the migration. Second, an objective assessment about actual life –living conditions of migrants living in the migrant camps and rented accommodation is illustrated vividly. Third, the author has identified and analyzed various crucial problems and issues involved therein related to migrants’ lives in different areas of Jammu the province. Last but not least, realistic suggestions for the Governmental and non governmental agencies for creating conducive environment and devising short and long term plans, programs and policies for honorable and safe return of the migrants to Kashmir valley have been delineated in the ouvre.
The book is divided in to five main chapters, which include: Introduction, Methodology, Findings of the Study, Major Issues, and Suggestions.
The first chapter is all about the conceptual frameworks of migration, global, regional, and national trends of migration and the related dynamics of causes and consequences. The author emphasized the essential need to integrate the demographic, economic, historical, and geographical dimensions of the problem in the sociological framework.
The focus of the study was mass migration of Kashmiri Pandits from all Muslim dominated districts in valley like Srinagar, Budgam, Baramulla, Anantnag, Pulwama and Kupwara to the Hindu dominated districts of Jammu , Udhampora and Kathua.
The study is quantitative in nature which involves a sample of 225 Kashmiri Pandit migrants living in camps in and outside (in their own rented houses /flats) in and around the city of Jammu. Migrants living in cities of Chandigrah, Shimla and Delhi were also contacted.
The third chapter highlights two versions which triggered the migration of 1989 .One version is political , in which Muslim militants were held responsible, the other maintains that the government at that time encouraged the Pandit migration by providing them travel and accommodation facilities.
The migration was related to various fallouts like problem of insufficient accommodation, psycho-social problem, health problems like depression and blood pressure. The poor section also experienced the problem of educating their children.
The social institutions of marriage and family also experienced attitudinal and structural changes respectively. The migrants were caught in the dilemma of preserving their own cultural identity and adjusting to the new cultural landscape and a tension between the two emerged and arose.
The fourth chapter highlights the acute problems faced by Kashmiri Pandits .They face(d) confrontation and conflict with Jammu Hindus .Initially, Jammu Hindus received them warmly in Jammu ,provided help and cooperation . However, over a period of time, the Jammu Hindus considered their presence as a threat to their interests in areas like education ,economy and employment. So, they started resenting their long drawn presence.
The issue of return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits to Kashmir is another issue that Professor Dabla has dwelt upon. Controversial viewpoints have emerged.Some Pandit political and other organizations have talked about the Panun Kashmir manifesto which talks about a separate homeland in the north and east of the river of the Jhelum where most of the Hindu shrines like Amaranth lie. The second perspective focuses on establishment of separate colonies for the Pandits at district and tehsil levels .The third perspective emphasizes on the maintenance and continuity of the present state, society and culture in Kashmir. This will remain as the practical reality, as it upholds the secular frame work.
In the last chapter of the book, suggestions have been made for knowing the actual demographic profile like sex ratio, birthrate, death rate, age composition, decadal growth rate and number of Kashmiri Pandits living outside the Jammu province. Property status- sold and unsold of Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir province should also be taken account of by the Government and Non -Governmental Organizations, enjoins Professor Dabla.
Kashmiri Pandits should be shifted to multistoried buildings, provided minimum needed facilities for better living is another suggestion. A Separate homeland for Kashmiri Pandits would not be realistic politically asserts the Professor. Last but not least, the relationship between Kashmiri Pandits, Kashmiri Muslims and Jammu Hindus, must remain cordial and reciprocal at the inter as well as intra levels .The Kashmiri problem is not a problem of religions but of political ideals. So this political conflict must not get degenerated to a religious conflict.
In the ultimate analysis, the book is an empirical study about the Pandit mass migration during and after 1989 and its sociological implications are highlighted in a vivid way .However, the nature of sampling has perhaps not been clearly reflected. The sample size is perhaps also inadequate to make generalizations. Changes in structural and functional aspects of the institution of family, marriage have been mentioned but the underlying factors have been ignored. Nevertheless, the book can be a good source of information for general readers who hold an interest to know the implications of Pandit migration in Kashmir, to students and researchers in particular as the study is based on firsthand accounts. The book provides a vivid and graphic description of the mass migration of Kashmiri Pandits , its causes and sociological ramifications.

—The author is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at GDC Pulwama, Kashmir. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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