General Entry - Emerging Talent Awards
Kashmiri Pandits of Baramulla District, Jammu & Kashmir
January 2013 marks the twenty-third year that the Kashmiri Pandits have been displaced from the Jammu & Kashmir valley, their homeland. I was fortunate to photograph theses individuals outside Kolkata city at Dakshineshwar. They have been roaming from one state to another every few months. To escape the unbearable winter months they move down to warmer central and eastern Indian states. I managed to seek out their makeshift camps perched on the side of a highway next to the city's sewerage canal. For their daily ration, they would rely on meager food supplies provided by the local people; while the youngsters resorted to begging alms outside the busy shopping malls.
"No words will ever explain the extent of suffering Kashmiri Pandits experienced. Justice to the community remains our firm committment," - Mr. Narendra Modi, PM India (20 Jan, 2014, The Hindu)
"Challenge to the idea of Indian Nation state continues in Kashmir in one or the other form. Extirpation of entire Kashmiri Hindu religious minority is one of its worst manifestations. This religious identity has suffered ignobility and tragedy of exodus in the past as well, but the mass exodus of 1990 is one of the worst scars as it happened in 'Secular, Democratic and Free India'." - from the Memorandum submitted by the Kashmiri Pandits delegation.
The delegation also said the targeted killing of members of the Hindu Minority community that led to mass exodus has resulted in the change of the demographic profile of the State, yet "no commission was constituted nor was any enquiry ordered into the causes of extirpation and rise of fundamentalist-anti-India insurgency in Kashmir."