A new thesis has been floated by a Kashmiri leader Altaf Bukhari who heads the newest political group Jammu Kashmir Apni Party, in which he has underscored that “Kashmir is in a minority”, dispelling the widely held perception across the country that only the minority community members were being killed in the Valley.
For the first time in the trouble-ridden history of Kashmir, in which thousands of lives have been lost over the past more than 30 years, a prominent political leader who was a leading light in the PDP-BJP coalition government from 2015 to 2018, has spoken in clear terms. “ The killings of Kashmiri Pandits and other members of the minorities are being talked about, but the fact is that there thousands of Kashmiri Muslims too have been killed,” and as such, he stated: “ Kashmiris are in a minority.”
The connotation of what Bukhari stated seeks to tell the Indian nation as also the rest of the world that seemed to have changed its perceptions about the Valley after the release of the movie “ The Kashmir Files”, in which the Muslim majority of Kashmir is shown as being sympathetic to the gun wielding militants on a killing spree of Kashmiri Pandits, forcing them to flee their motherland in the darkness of never-ending nights, the nightmare with which they have been living since 1990, which is regarded as zero year of the eruption of militancy in Kashmir, and also when the streets of Srinagar reverberated with the slogans of “Azadi.”
Bukhari’s statement to the media over-obsessed with the killings of the non-locals and minority community members sought to tell the nation that there are others too who are getting killed by militants. Kashmiri Pandits are not the only ones who have fallen victims to the bullets of militants, there is a huge line of the victims of the majority Muslim community whose graves are not counted in the statistics. “ There is no majority, no minority, we are all Kashmiris, and as such Kashmir is in a minority. The victims are not defined by their religion but by their ethnicity.”
For a vast majority in the country, a wrongly held view prevails that only Kashmiri Pandits were killed or they are being targeted, there is hardly any mention of the Muslims who have fallen victims. This was a bold statement from the leader who held the positions of finance minister in the erstwhile PDP-BJP coalition government. This also conveyed a clear message to the forces that were spreading hate through hate speeches and widening the divide between communities. this hate is also directed against Kashmir, and unfortunately, the narrators happen to be those who were sons and daughters of the soil of Kashmir
“ Kashmir is in a minority”, the phrase also implies that the voice of the people of Kashmir is not being heard in any quarter, and the infrastructural development of cement and steel alone doesn’t reflect the real development- that is the human development. There are grievances, and those have been left undressed because something is being superimposed without taking the locals on board, goes the argument of the leaders who want Delhi and the rest of the country to go in for course correction.
Against this backdrop, what is true is that Kashmir cannot be seen through the split prism.
And for Kashmiris, especially those who continue to live in the Valley, the smear campaign them rubbing salt into the unhealed wounds of the people, who want s much peace and normalcy as normal people do. They are also votaries of the return of Kashmiri Pandits back to the Valley, with their passionate plea to the migrant community, “ Kashmir is incomplete without Kashmiri Pandits.” This line is to assert the idea that “ Kashmir will be complete only when Kashmiris are seen as Kashmiris, and not split between their religious identities .” It is time to bury the past and move on.