Why are Kashmiri Pandits against Anupam Kher's nomination for Rajya Sabha Seat?
NEW DELHI: As BJP is eager to forward veteran actor Anupam Kher’s name for the ‘coveted’ membership in the Rajya Sabha, the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS) strongly believes that Kher has only harmed the interests of Kashmiri Pandits. They also believe that behind the disguise of voicing over his opinion on the incident of intellectuals returning their awards or be it the debate on endowing prominent importance to ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, Kher has just been playing ambition politics. It serves his interests to come out as a ‘patriotic’ Kashmiri Pandit, garnering support of RSS and BJP, so that his political image is not blemished and he can make his opportunistic move.
However, Kashmiri Pandits, few of them who resisted the exodus and are still surviving in Srinagar are against this move of the BJP, as they perceive it as being politically manipulated. On the other hand, BJP is more adamant to push Kher’s name for Rajya Sabha’s membership because it would thus, suggest that they are interested in empowering the Kashmiri Pandits who are lingering still in political exile, away from their organic roots. The BJP in the past has done nothing tangible to improve their position, conferring them a dynamic identity or safeguarding them from communal polarization.
Sanjay Tickoo, who is the President of Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS) strongly believes that Kher has become active in the past one year or so because he is eyeing on the Rajya Sabha seat. Instead of pulling out his community from the morass, Kher has been much involved in spewing venom against the other community, which does not serve any purpose for the empowerment of the Kashmiri Pandits. He believes that Kher does not deserve the Rajya Sabha seat as it would berate other stalwarts who have actually done something concrete for their community but did not enter into political limelight to fetch any form of motive. Tickoo also wonders how Kher’s nomination can serve any purpose in the extremely hostile conditions still prevalent in the Kashmir Valley.
Kashmiri Pandits have lashed out stating that Kher has no concrete and grassroot level idea of what kind of lives are lived by 6000-7000 Hindus residing in the Kashmir Valley. He has never bothered to visit their homes, gain knowledge regarding their deteriorating conditions or the challenges that they face on day-to-day basis. Also, Kher would not be able to boost the morale of the Kashmiri Hindus. The fact that Kher strongly states that anyone who does not hold the tricolor is not a nationalist is a political vendetta.
Ashok Ban, who is an eminent lawyer, who left the Kashmir Valley during the 90s, believes that there are less chances of Kher getting the Rajya Sabha seat as his wife is already a MP and Kher himself has been recently conferred with the Padma Award. Also, in the past, Kher has been opining few vitriolic statements against Kashmir which makes his behave like an anti-Kashmiri.
But at the same time, Kher has also few admirers like Sunil Shakdhar, who was the former president of Kashmiri Samiti. Shakdhar strongly believes that Kher has been connected to his roots ever since his family had to migrate and his presence in the Rajya Sabha is going to espouse the cause of Kashmiri Pandits. Nevertheless, only eminent personalities are able to fetch a seat in the Rajya Sabha and are chosen by the President, hence, whether or not Kher’s nomination would be successfully forwarded is still tentative.
(The writer is a doctoral student at JNU. The article reflects the Opinion of the writer).