n Conflict Trends - Conflict induced displacement : the Pandits of Kashmir

Volume 2009, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1561-9818


Displacement is one of the stark realities of the Kashmir conflict. It remains dwarfed by the attention that the conflict itself has drawn. About 10 categories of internally displaced people can be identified. These people have been uprooted due either to the external dimension of the conflict in the form of India-Pakistan hostility, or the internal dimension of the conflict in the form of ongoing violent militancy in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). This article focuses on a particular group of displaced people called the Kashmiri Pandits, as their displacement is considered a prominent factor in the rupture of the cohesive fabric of Kashmiri society. The displacement of the Pandits is unprecedented in the history of India - virtually the entire community had been forced into exile due to violent militancy. The ongoing peace process - in which India has initiated dialogue with the separatist groups for resolution of the Kashmir conflict - has generated hope for the return of these displaced people, though nothing concrete has been achieved yet. Of late, the attempts made to address the grievances of this marginalised group appear minimal, considering the enormity of sufferings of the displaced people and their continuing uncertainty for the future.

The focus of this article, based on extensive surveys in the Kashmir valley as well as in the camps of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits during nine years of doctoral and postdoctoral research, is to highlight the plight of this group. The article argues that, besides providing adequate facilities to displaced people, it is also crucial that they be given a place in the ongoing peace process, for sustainable peace in Kashmir to be ensured.

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