Dr. Ramesh Tamiri has expressed much distress at what he considers the sidelining of Kashmiri Pandits in the ongoing talks between the government of India and the Gupkar gang in Kashmir. His concerns remind me of the article that another friend of mine wrote many months ago. Swaran Preet Singh wrote in the context of Kashmir about the absence of a recognition that Sikhs are a persecuted community. Any community which wishes to be heard needs to become extraordinarily touchy about its existence. It is the touchiness that communicates to the rest of the world that a community exists and it needs to be respected. The Sikhs, by creating an identity around the Indian state of Punjab, have used such touchiness in the past two decades to assert a distinct Sikh identity. In the case of the Kashmiri Pandits, their initial stoic silences worked against them. Far from appreciating their suffering, there were some, journalists, Kashmiri Pandits, academics in general, who began to construct an image of the Kashmiri P andits being an oppressor group. Despite all the persecution they have suffered at the hands of the radicalised Islamists in Kashmir, the broad vision as propagated till recently by the likes of Barkha Dutt was that they were actually exploiters of the Muslims in Kashmir. That apologia for Islamism in Kashmir was fortunately rendered ineffective by the changes in Kashmir introduced by the Narendra Modi government. Today even Pakistan hesitates in providing overt military backup to Islamists crossing the border.
Rajiv Lochan is a renowned scholar, historian and columnist