Exactly a decade earlier…..New Delhi, September 2010.
A delegation led by Panun Kashmir, including two members from KSD, called on (then Finance Minister of the country), former President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee one late evening at his residence. The veteran leader received the delegation, with all courtesy, in his working chamber – surrounded by files and lot of books all around.
It was evident that the high profile minister was busy attending to the complex financial matters of our great country, even late in the evening past normal ‘office hours’, when four of us entered his room at the appointed hour.
Since we had a confirmed meeting, naturally we discussed the objective of our visit. Pranab Mukherjee was supposed to lead an ‘all party delegation’ to erstwhile state of trouble torn J&K then (following June 2010 ‘Kashmir unrest’). He listened to our concerns carefully (read *HT statement; dated: September 20, 2010, below), but revealed that Shri P. Chidambaram, then HM,
would now lead the delegation in his place and suggested we meet him and submit a memorandum.
In response, I very politely, but firmly said, “Sir, we thank you…..are very grateful to your government for having invited our exiled community (Kashmiri Pandit) representatives to participate in three RTCs convened, under the Chairmanship of (then) hon’ble PM, Dr. Manmohan Singh; but, sir, regret that all our memorandums / suggestions, as submitted by our representatives in those RTCs, have virtually been PUT INTO A DUST BIN as no action was
visible on the ground till date…”
“No, no…..No question of putting them “into a dust bin”….a visibly upset ‘Pranab Da’ retorted back and continued……“You must appreciate Govt. has to submit a report to UN every year about the situation in J&K……we have an UN office in the valley…..but, be assured, no question of any compromise on our national sovereignty.”
Earlier my colleague Sh. Vijay Tikoo, who was part of the delegation (besides two senior functionaries of Kashmiri Samiti Delhi, including, Dr. L.N Dhar and Sh. H.L.Jad) had raised the issue of carving out of a separate homeland for KPs within the valley with the minister.
Having conveyed our concerns forcefully, we decided not to meet Chidambaram. However, it was ensured that ‘all party delegation’ met our exiled KP brethren, including, Panun Kashmir stalwarts, Dr. Agnishekhar and Dr. Ajay Chrungoo in Jammu – who, as usual, very ably, highlighted the community’s grave concerns before the delegation.
The idea of Panun Kashmir / community concerns have prevailed; the results are before the world today. Erstwhile state of J&K stands reorganised; bifurcated in two UTs – J&K and Ladakh. Article-370 / 35-A, hopefully gone for ever. Besides, our mother tongue – Koshur (Kashmiri) along with Hindi, Dogri and English, is also being recognised now as an official language of UT of Jammu & Kashmir in addition to Urdu -the prevailing official language (though the issue of script for Koshur language remains).
The grave issue of genocide of Kashmiri Pandits is gaining wider attention that it deserves. Sooner or later, a separate Homeland for KPs will also materialise. No one needs to entertain any doubts about that…For,
कश्मीर मे भारत की तस्वीर।
पनुन कश्मीर, पनुन कश्मीर।।
Pranab Da’s assurance of “no question of any compromise on our national sovereignty” had won our hearts then. Naturally, this writer mourns the loss of former President of India who left his mortal remains in New Delhi after a brief illness on 31 st August 2020…A respectful remembrance, and my homage to the great son of India.
…..Farewell, Bharat Ratna, Pranab Mukherjee; Om Shanti !
(Earlier, another Panun Kashmir delegation, led by this writer, had also met the then Defence Minister of India, A.K.Antony; but, regrettably, the minister didn’t exhibit any sensitivity towards the delegation)
[Published in monthly Koshur Samachar (Sept. 2020) and Spade-A-Spade (Slightly edited; Oct. 2020)]