Hindu persecution in Kashmir: Tragic Assassination of Sarpanch Ajay Pandita “Bharti” raises several questions
Ajay Pandita was primarily a Displaced Kashmiri Pandit who chose to return to his village, constructed a house, and lived with family sticking to his religious beliefs and not harming anyone else. But his terrorists who killed him saw Ajay Pandita as an 'unwanted other'.
- Girdhari Lal Raina
The ruthless assassination of Sarpanch Ajay Pandita “Bharti” by terrorists near his house is tragic, inhuman, heart-wrenching and disastrous. It has severe implications. True, this dastardly act reminds us of so many brutal assassinations that have taken place earlier also. But this is different in more ways than it resembles earlier killings.
First of all, who Ajay Pandita “Bharti” was needs to be understood. Yes, he was a common man sans any VIP status.
However, his uncommon actions put him in a different category. Ajay Pandita “Bharti” belonged to the minority Hindu Community of Kashmir that was forced into exile in 1989-90. Ajay Pandita “Bharti” also became a refugee in his own country. This man chose to return to his roots irrespective of what others of his ilk said or did. He went further to construct a new house in his village- a very risky and imprudent step by any standards for a displaced person to do. Most striking aspect for me was the absence of a boundary wall around his house that provides some sense of security to the inmates- a concept not uncommon even in the majority community of the valley also.
Why did Ajay Pandita “Bharti” choose to do so? Was it for economic reasons or did he consider Goodwill of majority Community more dependent than a brick wall? Well, frankly speaking, I don’t know! But if it was later one, then the message is loud and clear; ‘Good Will is no Guarantee of Security’. And any person desirous of returning to the valley must factor that in. Hence the vicious slaying of Ajay Pandita “Bharti” is a sure setback to all those members of the Displaced Community who would have been thinking about returning to their origin. This slaughter of a person who was:
- unarmed and unprotected
- only Hindu family living among thousands Kashmiri Muslims,
- not a BJP or RSS man (fall Guy for Lobby) but a grass root level social worker of “secular” Congress party and dared to settle in his hamlet without looking towards return package and the idea of a proposed township for return and rehabilitation of Displaced Kashmiri Pandits
Why the Killing?
It is essential to evaluate possible reasons for Targeting Ajay Pandita “Bharti”. Pakistan backed Let’s proxy TRF has owned responsibility citing his political activism as a reason for cruel slaughter. This claim raises more questions than it answers, besides reminding us of the assassination of sessions Judge Neelkanth Ganjoo in 1989. JKLF than had claimed judgement of Late Ganjoo sahib in late 1960’s killing case was raison d’etre for cold-blooded murder in one of the busiest markets of Srinagar.
Community leadership had asked them some uncomfortable questions that remain unanswered to date. How was a judge responsible for delivering a judgment without witnesses, prosecutor, investigators etc. sharing the blame? Judge, after all, is bound by the evidence produced in front of him. The verdict of a sessions Court was confirmed by higher Courts also. Were they all spared because of their religion?
Similarly, if Ajay Pandita “Bharti” was targeted for being a Sarpanch than his electors, and all other colleagues are equally responsible. Will all of them be eliminated? Are 80-90 per cent electors of Kashmir valley who participated in one or the other elections also Wajibul-Qatal? Is this really the case?
Obviously, there must be some other reason for eliminating Ajay Pandita “Bharti”. That inconvenient question of knowing TRUTH needs to be asked. Majority community of Kashmir will have to confront this reality, and sooner they do it is better for Kashmir and Kashmiris.
Who is Responsible?
Terrorists who pumped bullets into the body of martyred Ajay Pandita “Bharti'' are executors of the order issued by someone else. Even execution of such a heinous crime is not possible without active & participatory help from unsuspected Over Ground Worker (OWG) who must have gained the confidence of Ajay Pandita “Bharti '' over the years. While there is no doubt about the elimination of terrorists who fired the bullets, it is important to nab other culprits involved in the crime. It is important to expose such OWGs who roam around as wolves in sheep's clothing. They are more dangerous than anybody else.
But mainstream social, political and civil society members who cry from rooftops their commitment to return and rehabilitation of Displaced Community but on ground compete with one another to demonise the community. They refuse to recognise the costs Kashmir and Kashmiris have to pay for this political harakiri.
The administration can’t escape its part of the blame. They refused or remained indifferent to the security concerns of ground-level political workers from the Displaced Community who accepted the call given by Hon'ble. Prime Minister from ramparts of red fort New Delhi. Conscious of grave risk to their lives, they still went from Jammu to participate and contribute to the national resolve of conducting Panchayat and ULB elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
Ajay Pandita “Bharti” was a Sarpanch, no Doubt. That was incidental. He was primarily a Displaced Kashmiri Pandit who chose to return to his village, constructed a house, and lived there with his family that included two daughters. He cultivated his land, brought back his orchard to life and looked after temples and shrines in his area. So essentially, Ajay Pandita “Bharti” was sticking to his religious beliefs, thinking that he was not harming anyone else. But his murderers, Terrorist sponsored by forces across the border but pampered and eulogised by unsuccessful, inept and clumsy political activists using radical religious views to divide societies, projected Ajay Pandita “Bharti” as an unwanted other.
Their dubious, treacherous and deceitful belief is exposed by their nefarious acts like gunning down of another young man in Bomai village of Baramulla district and several innocent people from the Majority community. It is time for the majority community of Kashmir to confront this ugly situation head-on. The difference of opinion on worldly issues cannot be allowed to wreak havoc Death and destruction must stop.
(The author is a former MLC and spokesperson of BJP, Jammu & Kashmir)