Kashmiri Pandits, Vidyasagar & the Great Men of Media

It has been months since I have written a blog post but this article of Swaminathan S Aiyar provoked me to do it.

A tale of two ethnic cleansing in Kashmir

The article is assumed to be about the cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley. Even as the title suggests there is a counter balancing view. Cleansing of muslims from Jammu. To quote from the article –

Today, Jammu is a Hindu-majority area. But in 1947, it had a Muslim majority. The communal riots of 1947 fell most heavily on Jammu’s Muslims; lakhs fled into what became Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. That turned Jammu’s Muslim majority into a Hindu majority. In sheer scale, this far exceeded the ethnic cleansing of Pandits five decades later.

A lay reader would assume that are no muslims today in Jammu. The truth is it is 65% Hindus, 31% Muslims. Muslims have not been cleansed. And Pakistan occupied Kashmir is not all Kashmir. It also includes parts of Jammu. And 1947 was not a normal period. If one has to raise 1947 as cleansing of Jammu, one would also have to simultaneously discuss what happened in Punjab, Bengal and Sindh. To both Hindus & Muslims. In both East & West Punjab / Bengal.

But those were tougher times. Partition and its aftermath.

But what happened in 1989 / 1990 to Kashmiri Pandits were during ordinary times. There were no retaliation unlike in Jammu of 1947 when to use the (allegedly) BJP excuse – Action & Reaction or the more well documented Congress excuse – when a big tree falls.

But in all this what did the Kashmiri Pandits do? The Jammu Hindus are Dogras & the Kashmiri Pandits always felt closer to Kashmiri Muslims than the Jammu Dogras. Something the Kashmiri Muslims or their apologists in media never bothered to acknowledge. The Kashmiriyat is only for TV Debates and has hardly been practiced on the ground.

But what does all these have to do with Vidyasagar?

An incident from his life explains the reaction of Media perfectly. He had gone to his village once and whenever he went to his village he used to give away all his earnings to the suffering villagers. A band of robbers thought if he gave away so much money how much he should have? So they decided to rob him that night. Vidyasagar seeing the large number of bandits took his parents & brothers and vanished leaving behind whatever little he had.

When he came back to Calcutta, the Deputy Governor Hon. Haliday called him & chided him for his cowardice in fleeing. To quote his reply:

Your Honour may now accuse me of cowardice. But supposing, I had faced the numerous armed robbers single-handed, I was sure to lose my life. In that case, your honour would have been the first to say, what a fool Vidyasagar was to meet rashly so many robbers and sacrifice his life for the sake of trifles. Now that I have saved my life and have been able to appear before you, your honour calls me a coward. From this it is clear, that it is no easy thing to please you, great men.

   The Media currently has its most golden period. It consists of only such great men.

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