Whilst Makar Sankranti marks the point in the Hindu calendar after which the days the start to lengthen and the nights start to shorten, for approximately 350,000 – many sources suggest more – Hindus in the Jammu and Kashmir region in 1990, this signalled the beginning of a darkness that has yet to be dispelled. On 19th January that year, Islamic insurgents stormed into the valley demanding the Hindus in the region to either convert to Islam, leave the area or die. Many lost their lives as they were forced to flee overnight and could not take any of their belongings with them. To this day, the Kashmiri Pandits, as they then became known, have not been able to return to the valley.
Though the event happened a number of years ago and may not affect our lives on a daily basis, it is very important that as British Hindu students, we take note of this issue, and understand our history. We are the protectors of satya (truth) and should develop an understanding of the facts of what is happening in the region. It is our duty to work towards the protection of our fellow human beings across the world, and our saying ‘vasudhaiva kutumbakam’ (the whole world is one family) should spur us on to overcome the barriers that prevent the Kashmiri Pandits from receiving justice. With a knowledge of our history and a sense of compassion, we can all take steps to make a difference in the world.
NHSF (UK) were fortunate to be invited to the Commemoration of the 29th Kashmiri Hindus’ Exodus Day in the House of Commons on Thursday 17th January 2019. Sagar Ghelani from our National Committee (below, standing) provided a perspective from the youth on the relevance of the situation in Kashmir for British Hindu students. Mr Bob Blackman MP and Mr Virendra Sharma MP were present and highlighted the importance of working together as a Hindu community and taking an active approach by speaking to our MPs about this issue.