Protecting Kashmiri Ethos by Preserving Pandit Identity in the Valley.
Vijay K. Sazawal, Ph.D.
10 February 2008
The “Vision Statement” emanating from a Roundtable discussion on preserving Kashmiri Pandit (KP) identity in the Kashmir valley. The meeting was organized by activists from KP community of Northern California to which the author was invited. The meeting took place in the San Jose Hindu Temple on February 10, 2008.
Agenda for the Kashmiri Pandit (KP) Diaspora 2008
To affirm and commit our collective resolve for re-emergence of Pandit identity in the Kashmir valley and ensure that Kashmiri Pandits participate as a key constituent in the final resolution of the Kashmir dispute.
The vision will be realized through a combination of cultural, economic and political revival of Kashmiri Pandits in the valley. It will take patience and time, but if the diaspora is supportive and not indifferent or skeptic, these goals can be achieved sooner.
- Provide psychological, institutional and financial support to valley based Pandits in order to create a cultural critical mass in the valley that may accelerate the early return of interested state subjects back to Kashmir
- Establish a temple management authority run by Pandits that effectively protects, preserves and manages important Pandit temples, shrines and cultural sites*
- Seek official minority status for Kashmiri Pandits as a way to assure adequate representation in J&K’s polity, including the State administration. This will require legislation to establish a State Minority Commission that should be empowered by the Legislative Assembly to implement recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
- Strive for inclusion of the rehabilitation budget for Kashmiri Pandits in the J&K Annual Budget so that the State places a priority for re-integrating Pandits into Kashmir’s economy, head count and workforce. Extend the “Roshni Bill of 2007” to include Pandit farmers and landholders who fled the valley in the 1990’s*
- Ensure that KP’s are recognized as full-fledged party in the final resolution of the Kashmir issue. Create awareness among major foreign powers in this regard, and inform these governments about growing political, economic and cultural isolation faced by KP’s today.
- Demand the restoration of a long-standing tradition in Jammu and Kashmir where at least one cabinet ministerial portfolio has been assigned to a Kashmiri Pandit*
(* near-term focus)
Dr. Vijay Sazawal is a policy analyst and a commentator who specializes in local governance and intra-community issues affecting political dynamics within the Kashmir valley. He has written extensively on the current political turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir (commonly referred to as Kashmir), arguing for new and innovative approaches in understanding and resolving the simmering discontent in all communities and regions of the State.