‘Everyone knows Pakistan is doing it.’
‘But what are we doing? We should not incite more violence.’
IMAGE: Central Reserve Police Force troopers check bags during a security vigil in Srinagar, October 12, 2021. Photograph: Danish Ismail/Reuters
Over the last month, several people have been murdered by terrorists in Kashmir. A sense of fear and uncertainty has again descended over the Kashmir Valley.
Sanjay Tikku did not flee the Valley after terrorists targeted members of his Kashmiri Pandit community in the 1990s.
Tikku, president of the Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti and still lives in the Kashmir Valley, tells A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com, “People sitting in Delhi don’t know what is happening in Kashmir.”
What caused the current round of killings in Kashmir?
You should ask the people in Delhi about this.
They are saying everything is okay and people are happy here.
They said after 370 everything is alright here. (Article 370 granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir.).
Do you feel this unrest will lead to animosity between Kashmiri Muslims and Hindus?
We are not blaming Muslims.
Ask the godi media (media aligned with the ruling dispensation in New Delhi) why this is happening. What has the nation done for me in the past 32 years? Nothing has been done for us. You keep saying everything is alright.
Cabinet ministers come here and go, BJP or Congress, nothing happens. The Centre has to do something, not us.
Buying Rafale is not helping us. Security forces are being killed here.
People are playing politics with blood. People sitting in Delhi don’t know what is happening here.
Labourers are running away today. Don’t politicise everything.
Accountability should be there. Heads should roll.
Doesn’t matter which government is ruling. BJP now and Congress earlier.
Why are minorities being targeted here? Why is there no shield around us? Ensure our security — the rest is with God.
Do you feel individuals from your community living outside Kashmir are the cause of polarisation?
Not all of them, only those who are talking about us on TV channels and giving interviews. They should come and talk to us.
They play the victim card. How does that help us? How does it help the nation?
We are staying here. What are they talking about on TV? They talk about Hindus being killed here just to play the victim card, not to help us.
They don’t have a stake here. I have my family here. I have a stake here.
They do it only for publicity. They should come here, experience it here, and then talk.
Our soldiers are being killed on the border protecting us.
Do you feel social media is adding to your problems?
Social media is adding to our problems. They are creating a situation on social media that it is Hindus versus Muslims here.
They should come here, see the situation and then comment on social media. Outside you can talk about anything.
What steps have both communities taken to assure people of their security?
The administration is helping us. On social media, I have said that our relationship with the majority community is good.
There are elements trying to disturb this. We have survived here for 32 years because of our good relations with the majority community.
To prevent violent incidents from happening, everyone from both communities should be vigilant all 24 hours of the day.
There is fear in the atmosphere. They are announcing from mosques that people should follow insaniyat (humanity) and stop the violence.
Is it true that Kashmiri Pandit organisations outside Kashmir are not in touch with you?
None of them is in touch with us. A few individuals are in touch with us, not organisations.
Are the debates on prime time on news television channels making the situation worse?
It is making the situation worse. They are provoking the youth, inciting violence.
They should come here and hold the debates in every district in Kashmir. Let the local people talk.
The debates should not be provocative and not on a religious basis. It should be constructive.
What is the problem? That should be discussed here. Encounters are taking place, why?
Everyone knows Pakistan is doing it. But what are we doing? We should not incite more violence.
IMAGE: Migrants wait at a railway station on the outskirts of Srinagar to board trains to their home states following attacks on migrant labourers by terrorists in Kashmir, October 18, 2021. Photograph: Danish Ismail/Reuters
How strong are the bonds between Muslims and Hindus in Kashmir?
Strong bonds were always there. The problem is that when there is violence, it is the responsibility of the majority to condemn all violence. They should not be silent.
They should make sure that it doesn’t happen again. The onus of responsibility lies with the majority.
Pakistan must be happy with the current turmoil in Kashmir.
Pakistan is always happy, we should get used to it. We should engage with them.
We have to see how we can psychologically engage with them.
Do you think the restoration of statehood and elections will help in restoring normalcy?
In present times, No! Once the violence stops, we can do that.
Some say a fear psychosis is being created among Kashmiri Pandits and migrants to take Kashmir back to the 1990s.
To some extent it is true.
What should the government do, to assure people about their safety?
The government cannot do anything by itself. All political parties and people have to come together to solve this problem.
Do you see normalcy returning to Kashmir anytime soon?
Before 1988 we had night shows in cinema halls. That was normalcy. Our children have not seen normalcy.
For one year, Parliament should shift to Srinagar. Then there will be normalcy.
Then they will know what the problem here is. None of the think=tanks has found the reason for the problems here.
Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com