Sociology Current

Kashmiri Pandits

Kashmiri Pandits

Published on:
04 Nov 2023

Written by:
Pranay Aggarwal

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The News:

  • The exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in the 1990s is in the spotlight following the release of The Kashmir Files.

  • Sociology of Protests:

  • TN Madan calls ‘kashmiriyat’ as a pluralistic culture of tolerance and acceptance of the religious and cultural differences and not syncretism. Kashmiriyat (or Kashmiri way of life) refers to Kashmiri Hindu and Kashmiri Muslim bonding as is manifested in their cultural practices, which got affected after the displacement and resettlement of KPs outside.

  • According to Rattan Lal Hangloo (2012), the concept of Kashmiryat refers to communal harmony, multiculturalism and the tolerance that the majority community displays towards the minority community. It has also been defined as an ideological foundation of ethnic nationalism or a marker of Kashmiri identity that cuts across religious divide.

  • Osella and Gardner writes that -Shift to a new host community involves issues such as change in identity, meanings and perceptions of 'ourselves and others’ by us. The fact that the Kashmiri Hindus view themselves as separate from the Kashmiri Muslims after displacement is evident from the fact that ‘Panun Kashmir’, a collective movement of the displaced Kashmiri Hindus, has demanded a separate homeland for the Kashmiri Hindus.

  • Charu Sawhney argues that there has been a decrease in intercommunity participation in festivals and life-cycle ceremonies as was the case in Kashmir, symbolizing a weakening of the concept of Kashmiriyat.

  • However I. Khan (2009) responded at the All India Sociological Conference in Kashmir to the claim by T.N Madan that the exodus and the rise of militancy in Kashmir were followed by ‘The Unmaking of Composite Culture’. He considers that the concern of a section of the Kashmiri Hindus and Kashmiri Muslims with the negative impact of militancy on the Kashmiri composite culture shows their preoccupation with an attempt to preserve Kashmiriyat.

  • He believes that rites of cremation still performed by Kashmiri Muslims for the deceased Pandits in Kashmir should dismiss a misconception that Kashmiriyat in its true essence is dead.

  • According to Sawhney and Mehrotra, in the new socio-economic context of the host territory, the kashmiripandits face a lack/availability of Bourdieu's economic capital (material resources), social capital (social networks) and cultural capital (skills especially in the case of younger generation) which are prime determinants for the changes in the way of life after displacement.

  • Tönnies’ concept of gemeinschaft (community) was characterized by a high degree of personal closeness and emotional bonding. The KPs lived in a gemeinschaft community in Kashmir whether residing in Kashmir villages or Srinagar city as opposed to gesellschaft (society) characteristic of the experiences of anonymity in the urban host territories of Jammu and Noida. Hence, some perceive it as a threat to their culture.

  • However, Riyaz Punjabi believes that the displaced Kashmiri Hindus have their ‘beliefs and social structures embedded in their consciousness’ which are connected with their homeland and cannot be erased. Therefore, Displaced KPs reterritorialize in the new locations. Reterritorialization means to lose one’s territory, and then construct a new community within a new area.