Don’t Use My Pain to Make it ‘Kashmiri Pandits vs Muslims’: Bhatt
Camera: Sumit Badola
Editor: Abhishek Sharma
It has been a month since the abrogation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir and the situation still seems grim. Communications have been compromised, although landlines have been partially restored.
Pandits, who were displaced from the Valley when insurgency was at its peak in the 90s, are coming forward to help their fellow Muslims who are stuck in a limbo. Ashwath Bhatt, who is an actor and a migrant himself, has started a group to help the Kashmiris who are living outside the Valley.
“So far, we have helped pay exam fees, hostel fees, their (Kashmiri’s) monthly expenses, because the people – the kids, mainly – are from Kupwara, Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam, Tangmarg. These are the places they are from... mainly non-city chaps. They are not saying that they need money, like a grant or a donation or charity. They are saying, ‘Please loan us money, we will return this money to you.’ They are from decent families... these children are not from poor families, they are from decent families, but they can’t reach anyone.”Ashwath Bhatt
Bhatt and his family were forced to leave the Valley when militancy was at its peak in Kashmir in the 1990s.
“I have never forgotten 1990. I think as long as I live I will not forget 1990, or whatever happened after that. Leaving your home, how can you forget that? Your people getting killed, how can you forget that? Your pain, how can you forget that? I had two choices, one was to be bitter, and the other was to be better. I chose the latter.”Ashwath Bhatt
The abrogation is also being hailed as an important step for the Pandit community. But, how is it really going to benefit them?
“My point is, how is it going to help the Pandit community, the abrogation of 370, we will see in the coming days. Right now I am concerned about the fact that the Home Ministry does not have a record of the number of people (Kashmiri Pandits) who were killed then. Even an RTI was filed. What kind of facilities are being provided to Kashmiri Pandits, the migrants? The record is not there. What is the policy, the plan for Kashmiri Pandits? I want to see, I want to ask the government of India, what is the plan for us?”Ashwath Bhatt
Bhatt is also wary of the political games that have been played in Kashmir, hinged on the Pandit and the Muslim communities. He said:
“If Kashmir is our own, then Kashmiris are also our own. I suddenly remembered that in 1990, I had nothing, we had nothing. There were people who came to help us, but not many people who came to help us. Don’t use my pain. Don’t make this into ‘Kashmiri Pandits vs Kashmiri Muslims’. I am not into these political games.”
It is still unclear as to how the government plans to resettle the Pandit community or restore communications in the valley. Bhatt also is wary of
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