ROBBED OF ESSENTIAL ETHOS…?

As this year’s holy Amarnath Yatra culminated amidst tight security arrangements though with eight innocent Yatris losing their lives to the terrorists’ bullets, the people across the nation feel dismayed at the terrorists daring to tarnish the secular image of J&K from where the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi had seen a ray of hope emanating in 1947 amidst the worst crises of partition resulting in communal bloodshed and mayhem across the subcontinent. Even the people of the valley especially those displaced since 1989 are astonished at the drastic shift from the once existing model secular fabrique. The displaced section of the people once again reminded of the composite culture and inclusiveness that had been the intrinsic and built-in features of J&K’s ethos. This is evident from the fact that the most holy cave shrine for the Hindus across the world was not only discovered by a Muslim but the family of that Muslim continues to manage the Shrine even today despite there being a proper Shrine Board looking after the affairs in totality. Despite the situation being tense the people across the valley continue to be haunted by the sad and unfortunate exodus of the miniscule community from the Valley about three decades ago. The exodus has been the greatest blow to the composite culture and inclusiveness in the valley which is still identified as the land of Rishis, Sufis and Saints. It needs to be realized that maintaining composite culture and inclusiveness is not only essential for the state of Jammu & Kashmir but for the very existence of the world’s largest democracy the crown of which is bedecked with the jewel of secularism. No sector can remain untouched if this essential ethos is not restored to its pristine glory and this aim cannot be said to have been achieved unless a safe and dignified return of the miniscule community is managed by those at the helm of affairs in the governance of the nation as well as the state. There is historical evidence to the fact that a happy blending of cultures is peculiar to the Valley only and the composite blend of Buddhist, Shaivist, Rishi or Sufist and Islamic culture is the hallmark of Kashmiris and Kashmiriyat. It needs to be recalled that the Rishis or Sufis belonging to various faiths were the harbingers of secularism, world brotherhood and peace and it was due to them that the Kashmiris remained tolerant in their outlook and behaviour throughout centuries. Though from the situation as it exists today, the chances of return of the KPs seem to be quite bleak especially due to regional and religious polarization brewing up, yet at the same time it needs to be realized that tough times come with tough challenges and extra-ordinary situations demand extra-ordinary responses. It is never too late and the situation can still be retrieved by adopting a sensible approach. After all there are sensible voices across the state, especially the Valley who have voiced their anger on the issue of displacement of the KPs as well as against the polarization in the state being perpetrated by the politicians to satiate their vested interests. Perhaps the sufferings of the people irrespective of their religion have been immense and the scars of the onslaught in both the communities are hard to be wiped off in one go. Today there is a dire need to initiate result oriented measures in the state with full sincerity and dedication towards restoration of the essence of composite culture by respecting the human values at all costs be it the sufferings of the displaced community, or that of Pak and PoK refugees or even the people of the valley who have suffered the brunt of militancy in the valley. In this endeavour the politicians are expected to dust their acrimonious past and dig themselves out from the British period policy of ‘Divide and Rule’. Even the Hurriyat that talks day in and day out about respect for human values and cries hoarse over alleged human rights violations in valley, needs to take the lead by coming on the forefront and initiate steps to ensure safe and dignified return of the miniscule community members to places of their choice in the valley. All the stakeholders however need to tread the path with utmost caution as despite all said and done, there are no indications that the forces hell bent to rob the state of its ethos and identity have given up their sinister designs.