Solution lies in Reconnecting with Roots
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 Kashmiri Pandits demanding for resettlement in valley

Our roots exist in Sanatan Dharma—if countries like Indonesia and Malaysia can retain the memory of their Hindu ancestors why can’t we? We need to think of ourselves as Bharatiyas first and last

Recently, a friend of mine was discussing the Kashmir exodus with me. He was pained at the general perception that Kashmiri Hindus never actually sided with the Hindus of the other States of Bharat. In fact, people believe that Kashmiri Hindus always supported the Congress, the very party which betrayed them when they were in trouble. It set me thinking whether such a perception is correct or not and whether one should send the Kashmiri Hindus on a guilt trip every time. The fact is that Kashmiris had initially only a two-party system—the Congress and the Abdullah-led National Conference. Later, there was another party that emerged latert and that was the Mufti-led PDP. In such a scenario, which party would any Hindu choose, especially when you realise that everyone was taken in by the story of our first Prime Minister being a Kashmiri Pandit? It goes without saying that the common man of Kashmir voted for the Congress.
My point is that this was not a phenomenon unique to Kashmir. Something similar happened in other parts of our country as well. One has to look at Kerala to understand this phenomenon even more deeply. In Kerala, traditionally the Congress has allied with the Muslim League. So you had the Muslims and the Christians voting for the Congress there. Guess who the Hindus voted for? The Communist Parties—this is because the CPI(M) was filled with Hindus, all of whom proclaimed secularism and equality for all, but in the privacy of their homes, practised Hindu Dharma. For example, the Royals of Kerala were staunch Communists but upheld all the religious practices in the temples there.
Look at West Bengal! It is the same story there. In fact, it was the same story all over the North East. The only options were the Communist-led parties and the Congress. With such a stranglehold, the Hindu aspirations were trampled upon and State after State became the hotbed of religious conversions into either Islam or Christianity. Not only that. In all these States, the religious institutions were hijacked by State Governments that usurped the wealth of these temples. Another good example is the State of Tamil Nadu where the two-party system was based on Dravidian ideals propounded by Periyar. The hatred that Periyar had for Brahmins is very well known. His unfounded suggestions that Hindi and Brahmins were impositions of the Aryan culture on the Tamils, was a ploy to influence the minds of the people fresh from the Independence struggle. It was just a matter of time when Hinduism would be on the wane and conversions would rule the roost. The loot of the temple wealth also was very much to be expected, because, for them, temples were just a way to fill the State’s coffers. Somewhere along the way, the Communists had successfully made the Hindus hate their own religion or feel ashamed.
The fact is that when it suited Congress, it played on the emotions of the Hindus and won elections. When it didn’t suit them, they wooed the Muslims and the Christians. When BJP first won elections and Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the PM, for the first time it seemed that there was a chink in the Congress armour. And this was exploited to the hilt by other regional parties in Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. Regional parties started calling the shots at the Centre and the national agenda almost went for a toss. Politicians of regional parties got important portfolios in the Government and a new kind of seat-sharing became the norm. The Hindus were left watching the whole play of appeasement of various kinds, from a distance. The innumerable amendments to the Constitution, the adding of the word “Secular” to the Constitution, the non-stop appeasement of Muslims and Christians via doles, reservation for SCs & STs rising even up to 70% in some States, the plundering of the temple wealth, interference even in the educational institutions—all made the Hindus wonder if they were in the majority at all in this country.
The soul of thisancient civilisation is Sanatan Dharma and there was not even one single political party which stated openly that they would protect this ancient civilisation. When BJP won under the leadership of Narendra Modi, Hindus wondered whether their civilisational aspirations would be protected, after all. When Narendra Modi picked up “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” there were many who thought that he would go the path of minority appeasement like the Congress. His efficiency in many spheres and the fact that he put Nation First made Hindus believe that they have complete faith in his abilities and they voted him to power again. But still, most of the States which traditionally had only regional parties, leftists or Congress ruling it, stayed out of the BJP ambit. This meant that BJP had to have alliances with regional parties to stay in power. The fact is that these regional parties did not always put the Nation First. One only has to look at Maharashtra politics to see the truth.
This time around, the BJP made an attempt to fulfil some of the civilisational demands of the Hindus and the indigenous population. The acceptance of the demands of the Kashmiri Hindus, Brus and Assamese people and the recognition of the plight of the Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, have been long-standing demands of the Hindus. By bringing these issues into public domain, BJP has done the most important thing ever—making the Hindus of this land aware of how they have been sidelined by the other political parties for all these years. Unfortunately, this has been misconstrued as dividing the people of this country. The fact is that people had always been divided in this country as Indic eligious population vs Abrahamic religious population since the British times.
Today when the Muslims and Leftists are creating an environment of protests saying that Democracy is under threat, the people of this country are slowly realising that it is the existence of those who thrived on terror, which is under threat. Whether it is Naxal terror, Islamic terror or cultural obliteration, people today understand that they have to read between the lines to know the truth.
When news of the protesters at Shaheen Bagh being paid in kind and cash was exposed, no one was surprised. When one saw students of leftist Unions at colleges indulging in violence, no one was surprised. When one saw only Muslim children spewing venom on PM Modi, no one was surprised. When one saw Hindu symbols of Om and Swastik being mangled by Muslim protesters, no one was surprised. The only emotion most felt was that of anger because it seemed that for these people their religion mattered more than the nation. Recently there was discussion about how northern parts of Kerala are demanding a new Partition. But for a change, the Communist government there is not amused. Neither are the Christians of Kerala.
An opinion piece in a Hindi regional paper bemoaned how every problem in Bharat is treated as a Hindu-Muslim problem. The writer made an excellent point about why only Bharat has problems both, within its borders, on its borders and outside its borders. When Bharat was divided, our two neighbouring countries decided on their identity when they were formed itself—they declared to the world that they were an Islamic country. The result of such a declaration was that the minorities in these countries had to adjust to the new-found identity of their nations. They had to follow the rules as decreed in Shariah law of that country. No minority ever had any doubt that they were second class citizens there. So when they were tortured, they cursed their fate and tried to leave their country and come to Bharat. But here in Bharat, we initially hesitated to declare ourselves as a Hindu Rashtra. To make matters worse, we surreptitiously amended the Constitution to sneak in the word ‘Secular’. And then we had politicians bending over backwards to give benefits of every hue and colour to the “Minorities” who were more than 2% of the population. It definitely made things difficult for us as a Nation, because now we had officially ignored the aborigines of the land and their culture and heritage. We lost sight and vision of our own identity! The majority became second class citizens in their ­own country.
Another very interesting thing happened when our neighbours declared themselves as Islamic nations and they gave themselves the right to wage war on us because we were seen as ‘Kafirs’ according to their religious text, and their goal was “Ghazwa-e-Hind”. Since we did not seek to anchor ourselves on the basis of our ancient Civilisational identity, we fell prey to their every attempt to destroy our identity. We never taught our children about our ancient heroes, the innumerable genocides over the ages, our ancient knowledge systems, our ancient wisdom—nothing. We only mouthed inane phrases like “Vasudaiva Kutumbakam” and “Sarva Dharma Sambhav” without teaching ALL our citizens what they meant. The result was that the Minorities of our land did not identify with our ancient wisdom and generosity and the Majority did not take pride in what they identified themselves with. The protests regarding CAA, NRC or NPR are a direct result of this. Many of those who understand the need to protect the persecuted minorities in our neighbouring countries are ashamed to speak up because they neglected their own people from Kashmir and Assam among other places. Those who understand but see this as an opportunity to create problems in the country spread fake news that the Muslims are being persecuted in Bharat because of their religion!
Whether declaring Bharat as a Hindu-Rashtra would solve problems is difficult to answer right now, but there is no doubt that the time has come to find ways to make all Bharatiyas reconnect with their ancient identity. For the tree to bloom and stay healthy, the roots have to be wateredas our roots exist in Sanatan Dharma.
(The writer is a Mumbai-based columnist)­­