(Mr. Bhushan Lal Saraf, 67, was born in Batapora, Shopian. He finished his schooling from the Government Higher Secondary School in Shopian, and completed his professional degrees in B.Sc. (Hons.), Diploma L.L.B., and KCS (Judicial) from the University of Jammu and Kashmir, and from the University of Lucknow. Mr. Saraf retired as a Principal District & Sessions Judge. He is presently an Honorary Member of the J&K State Consumer Commission. He has authored a book, "New Lexicon for the Kashmiris," published by UPS in New Delhi. In his leisure time, Judge Saraf, provides complimentary legal counselling, campaigns for legal awareness, and enjoys reading and writing.)
Time to go Beyond Rituals
Their centers of spiritual faith are attracting Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley in larger numbers. What started in a trickle a few years back has, pleasantly, turned into a downpour. There are reasons for it. Obvious one being improvement in the security scenario. But then the welcome extended and the job of facilitation done by the majority community can’t be ignored. Over the period of time the response of the majority community has grown from a passive welcome to open effusion of warmth. This year, we are told authoritatively, Khirbawani Shrines at Tullamula and Manzgam in Noorabad area and various other religious places, spread over nook and corner of the Valley, drew thousands of Pandits to pay obeisance. We have reason to believe that the warm reception extended by the members of majority community to visiting Pandits is not a fluke. Our young boys and girls serving in near and far of places in the Valley have been enjoying such a warmth for long time now. Probably, this is one of the reasons – undoubtedly a significant one - which has allowed them to stay out, despite the attempts of so many, within the community and outside, to dissuade them to take up employment in the Valley. This fact should be sufficient for a common Pandit to dispel notion, being unsuccessfully hammered down to him by the disgruntled forces, that he is welcome to Kashmir only as a visiting tourist and not as an original inhabitant.
The annual pilgrimage to the religious places , no doubt, provides an opportunity to return to the roots, have interaction with the members of majority community and renew the bond of affinity. However, frequency of such visits needs to be increased. Nonetheless, one can’t discount the hurdles that are on the path of smooth and durable return. We are told to return to the original habitat from where the displacement happened. Well most of the Pandits would like it. But the logistics and the change in the topography of the place deter them . Most of these places have changed beyond recognition ; some of their houses and house sites have suffered the vagaries of nature and some of them have been encroached up on. Though, it is heartening to note that Kashmir civil society members are on the job to have encroachments removed . To hasten the job this group has elicited a moral and material support from the separatist, as well. But in this case government has to do a lot. Apart from being a facilitator it has to provide the displace person with enough financial support for honorable and secured living there. Most of the Pandits are loath to live in exclusion of their friends in the Valley. So,a suitable place or places, in the mixed environs, must be identified. State government has a job at the hands.
For his peaceful and permanent stay in the Valley it is important for Pandits to see resolution of the Kashmir issue.No doubt they have a well stated position on the matter. Since so much has gone wrong in Kashmir for so long some thing can be retrieved within that known position. Pandits haven’t been happy either in wilderness of displacement. Kashmir has lost phenomenally in terms of human blood and human values. If we Kashmiris cannot sing in joy together, al least, we should cry in pain together and try to wipe out tears of one another. Moreover, it will do a lot of good to a Pandit if he sees a clear distinction in Indian state and the Indian nation.While as he is free to identify himself with the latter in all respects, it is not his bounden duty to act as an apologist of the former when it does something terribly wrong and unexplainable.