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SP College - The Pratap 2005


Kashmiri Pandits: The Invisible Refugees

Kashmiri Pandits: The Invisible Refugees

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Description: In the 1989-1991 time period, nearly 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits were expelled from their native Kashmir valley after a combination of violence and explicit threats by Islamic terrorists aided and inspired by Pakistan. In the last decade, India-Pakistan tensions have continued and spiralled, especially over the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The tensions recently culminated in the Kargil invasion by thousands of Pakistani troops and supporting Islamic mercenaries. However, through a decade of continuing violence initiated by Pakistani elements, most of the hundreds of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits who have been expelled from their homeland continue to be ignored at the state, national and international level.
Most of the Pandit refugees, mislabeled as "migrants", live in squalid camps with spiralling health and economic problems. That the Muslim-led state government of Jammu and Kashmir has ignored their plight comes as no surprise since the oppression of Kashmiri Pandits did not start in 1989, but much earlier. Between 1947 and 1989, hundreds of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits had left the valley to escape oppression by the Muslim majority.

It is clear that the return of the nearly half a million Kashmiri Pandits to their native land will not be facilitated simply by the end of Pakistani-inspired terrorism in the state. While a cessation of the targeting of Pandits by Islamic terrorists in the state is the essential first step, an end to the oppression by majority Muslims would be the next essential step to enable the Pandits to return as equal citizens.
Date: 01.09.2004 05:14
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