Monday, September 19, 2016

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Unimagine every Sikh you have known in your life time. Imagine you have just heard about them and have never come across one in life. Imagine hearing stories that they used to be your neighbours but don't live there anymore. Imagine their empty houses and towns. Imagine they are all gone. Imagine Gurudwaras across India, some shut, some crumbling, some looted, some secured by Security forces, some run by Hindu men as part of job or homage to past. Imagine running into an occasional sikh pilgrim who you befriend and talk nostalgia with.


One might ask, "Where have they all gone?"

"Of course, Canada to seek material prosperity. Why they left is another question! Sitting in Canada why they curse India is understandable."

In 1980s, when Punjab was reeling under militancy, Sikhs were about 3% of Indian population. A prosperous productive community. But just 3%. Yet, it is unimaginable to imagine that this 3% can disappear from India almost overnight. A sick thought. One would imagine, Indian society would forever be needled about an event like this. After all, disappearance of communities doesn't happen in India. And if it does happen, it is not brushed under the rug of "hota hai, move on!". Right?

Kashmiri Pandits were just around 3% of Kashmiri society in 1980s. By the end of 1990, this 3% was just gone. Who imagined it? Now, ask that question too often and you are being a nuisance. A nuisance that holds 97% hostage. 97% that in some cases wan't Hindutva and in come cases an Islamic paradise.

Meanwhile history tells us 1980s saw the migration of Punjabis from border town of Punjab. Some of these Punjabi Hindus moved to a place called Faridabad near Delhi. The land prices sore. When the Punjab militancy settled down in late 90s, the land prices in the area crashed. Just as they crashed, Kashmiri Pandits moved in fleeing hope of returning to Kashmir. They bought land a low prices in arid wild lands where now societies have grown. Land prices in Faridabad have steadily increased over the decades. One can't imagine them ever going down with a crash.

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While in Jammu, I decided to give Kashmir a break and took up Punjab instead. However, Kashmir doesn't leave you alone once it grabs your soul. I read "My Bleeding Punjab", a compilation of Khushwant Singh's notes on the violence in Punjab of 80s.


This is from around 1986 when threat letters and selective violence were previously successfully used to engineer a mass migration. Interestingly, none of the Kashmir experts on Pandit exodus mention this phenomenon. Another interesting point made by Khushwant Singh is about this the do numbri "Shiv Sena". It is this Shiv Sena that also figures in stories from Kashmir of 80s where politically aggravating pandits were getting branded as Shiv Sainik by the majority community. I am sure even the people doing the branding had no clue that this Shiv Sena had nothing to do with Bal Thackeray. In all this, I have also realized that the tribal ritual of beating utensils to send out morse coded threats of violent death upon minority is still prevalent in Hindu society. In 2008, the method was used in Jammu while in Kashmir stones were flying. We are all in a one bad symphony of violence that has a secret language of its own. Sometimes it rings out like a shrill metal sound in that night and draws the children to its tune. I have heard this terrible song. Tie your children to the mast, the song is still playing.

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