I have just realized that the month of December is round the corner. This month with its shivering warmth and guilty conscience carries a bagful of distasteful memories for Kashmiri Pandits who stand sundered from their habitat, for a period of time unspecified as yet. Amongst the many tragedies of life, those caused by uprootal of settled populations are characterised by an all-round decline. The complex crossfire of ideas, ideologies, and greed and of course use of high calibre artillery and aerial bombardment in Syria and Iraq and other adjacent countries in North Africa has caused an unprecedented refugee problem. The decline of human decency is on display in abundance in most of the modern world.
And so it happened in Kashmir on 8th December 1989, when a young lady doctor was taken hostage by amoral moralists-not exactly puritans, which started a process of decline, debauchery and dare devilry seen by Kashmir never before. The push towards decline has ever since been exacting victims from amongst the natives as also from those who are trying to undo the wrongs abetted by a state caught in the tug-of war between a seductive dream and harsh reality.
A people, whose abilities are in no way inferior to those of the rest of the sub-continent were prior to this incident, adequately blessed with virtues: of faith in human dignity, civility and non-violence. Little wonder they experienced shock on learning about the revolting episode- the first of its kind in the history of Kashmir. Even rent-a-mob elements were stupefied! The politically alive and knowledgeable people felt paroxysm of guilt for having muffled the warning signals about the impending disaster over the past year or so. It was an occasion of shame that a young lady had been made captive to force a deal upon a state.
How could conscience of Kashmiris sink to such abysmal depths? It was definitely a departure from the path of morality inherited and treasured by them. The new path was uncharted – unmapped. The none-too-sure a situation caused only fear to possess their minds.
Coursing down memory lane they tried to recall the past episodes which resembled the one just concluded. The kidnapping episode of Sita, in hoary past and the blood bath that followed it was the nearest analogy they could concentrate their minds upon. This episode used to be enacted year after year (Dussera festival) in Iqbal Park which serves as the courtyard of Lal Ded Hospital. The victim was posted in this very hospital. From here she was dogged and made captive.
Or did it resemble Drupdi’s (Mahabharata fame) attempted profanity by her own protectors in the warmth of her sanctuary? In that case they knew about the mass madness which visited the populations with effortless brutality. How could the very negation of time tested wisdom better the lives of people? They wondered!
Or was the whole show stage managed, as the sceptics insisted? In that case did it resemble Helen’s excursion with her philanderer which led to the siege of Troy for ten long years. What was the size of the Trojan Horse which accommodated engines of destruction, which destroyed Troy beyond recognition! The Kashmiris rightly stretched their imaginations to map the possible consequences which they were destined to face and live through in the wake of this kidnapping.
But the dozing intellects in New-Delhi went blank. New conglomerate of politicians who had taken over the reins of governance just days before were, ab initio unequal to the task of humbling the Frankenstein inherited by them from their predecessors. The previous (ruling) fetish worshippers of Nehru, had (as was revealed later on) dismissed with hideous indifference every report of the intelligence agencies which were feeding data about the storm that was gathering in Kashmir. The young Prime Minister commanding 2/3rd majority in the lower house was too occupied to sense the tragedy of life. The tragedy lay in the fact that Nehru in 1947 promised to protect Kashmir from malevolence of Islamic state of Pakistan but his grandson sat tight on that promise. He ignored all the bad news coming from the valley, 1987 onwards. The assurance, to maintain a safe existence for Kashmiris, out of the reach of semi-barbaric legions of Pakistan, was enough to build the trust of a Muslim majority population in a Hindu majority state. The promise to quarantine the distinct culture of Kashmir (Kashmiryat) from all external influences especially from the puritan Pakistan built the ark which ferried sovereignty over and co-operation from Kashmir. Obviously the cocoon of flattery kept him away from bad news. And the enthusiasm generated by the good news that a new government had taken over at the centre wallowed in 12 days. On 2nd December 1989 V P Singh swore in the name of God and constitution to serve, without fear or favour but on 13th instant the inexhaustible female possessing hand to mouth sapience showered favour out of fear and released five highly motivated hard core terrorists. No wonder they in turn held the entire Kashmir to ransom.
13th December 1989 will go down in the history of Kashmir as an ominous, inauspicious black day comparable to the one that catapulted Sikander iconoclast onto the throne of Kashmir 600 years ago. A black day- yes, unexpectedly long and sunny! The Sun deceived the Kashmiris on that Wednesday as it rewrote their destinies and condemned them to a life of violence and misery. And as if by powers satanic the inertia gathered by Kashmir during the past 150 years of peace and stability was overcome as soon as the news of compromise was made public. The decline started immediately and gathered momentum as thousands poured into streets to hail the victory. One small concession in the eyes of an obese-lumpy state turned into a big achievement for a handful of misguided boys. As the mobs grew in size, fear and consternation vanished and hope possessed the people. Anger yielded place to happiness as courage took over from helplessness. The young pulsating hearts-immature intellects turned romantic. Jihad against India was possible! They joined street discussions. Distant Pakistan looked so near home! To an average Muslim, the young boy, the potential warrior appeared larger than life size. The political and economic underdogs saw their chance. Jihad and Islamic slogans warmed the blood of the cold blooded!
As the day wore off, the soothing reassuring Azan metamorphosed into a war cry. The rising wave of euphoria eclipsed the fund of rationality of parents, which in turn neutralized their control that disciplined the young ones. They in turn matured overnight to take big and important decisions. Unmatched against Achilles, the crescendo drove a chill down the spine of the minority Pandit community. They sensed what was coming their way. The night spent the dawn witnessed young boys preparing themselves for the adventure. The adventure lay in crossing the borders at a time when mountains were overlaid with snow and vigilance at its lowest. These boys were welcomed with open arms in PoK by the ISI-the spy agency of Pakistan. The ISI had with the blessings of CIA pilfered arms and ammunition from the Afghan Pipe Line, created by the US to fuel and feed the Afghan resistance war against the USSR. This pilfered ammunition was handed over to them for starting an armed insurrection back home.
So they succeeded in their first endeavour and like a swarm of locust, these boys returned, armed to teeth to lay waste a culture assiduously fostered by their ancestors over many centuries. And in this endeavour they were partly successful. The list of their satanic achievements is very long. The beauty is that those responsible are enjoying ecstasies of life, while the Pandits are mourning the loss of their identity and resources every moment of their rootless existence.