Anupam Kher did nothing for us, he only harmed our interests: Kashmiri Pandits organisation

NEW DELHI: The jury is out in the open with the cropping up of Anupam Kher’s name for the ‘coveted’ membership of the Rajya Sabha. After choosing six names to forward to the President, the BJP is said to be eager to forward ‘loyalist’ Anupam Kher’s name too.

Respected for his accomplishments as a character artist, Kher lately has been at the forefront to defend BJP’s stand on intolerance debate – be it the return of awards by intellectuals or making Bharat Mata ki Jai as a symbol of ‘true’ nationalism or patriotism.

The BJP perhaps also thinks that his nomination would ease its position within the Kashmiri Pandit community for which it has hardly been able to deliver what it promised.

But Kher’s credentials do not bring the same fervor among many Kashmiri Pundits – both in the valley and outside it – to whom dna spoke to.

Sanjay Tickoo, president of Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), who resisted exodus and chose to live in Srinagar sees it as ambition politics playing at its worst.

“Kher does not deserve it at all. What has he done for the community? There are several other stalwarts who have worked hard for the cause of Pandit community. He has set his eyes for RS seat since last one year or so. But during that period he has done more harm. Spewing venom against any community does not fetch anything.”

Tickoo wonders how Kher can contribute to his existence in hostile conditions in the valley.

“There are some 6000-7000 Hindus in Kashmir valley how he is going to increase their morale. We have done it alone so far. We rather feel insecure because of his speeches. How Kher can presume that any Indian not holding a tricolor is not a nationalist? Why does not he shift with family to the valley and see? Did he ever visit my home or any other family?” says Tickoo.

Eminent lawyer, Ashok Bhan who had to leave Kashmir in 1990 sees remote chance of Kher getting the Rajya Sabha as his wife is already an MP and he recently got Padma award.

Bhan also wonders if President would consider his performances as a “clown” worthy of eminence.

Bhan also finds Kher guilty of trying to subvert constitutional provisions on the plans of intolerance propaganda.

“President nominates eminent people. Does he fit that position of eminence despite trying hard to do so by subverting constitutional provisions? He is trying to masquerade the cause of Kashmiri Pandits to which he is not connected and does not know anything about. True KPs cannot a party to right wing politics as it is not there in their ethos,” says Bhan.

For the lawyer, Kher is behaving like an anti-Kashmiri as he often abuses Kashmir in Kashmiri and would a service to the community if he leaves Kashmiri Pandits fate to be determined by them alone.

Famous theatre personality, M K Raina feels sad for Kher for doing things that are quite unbecoming of him.

“I felt very sad when I saw him lampooning intellectuals. He lampooned great personalities like Krishna Sobti who is 90 years old, a freedom fighter and a stalwart in her field, when they returned the award. Sahitya Academy is the most respected award for any writer and it is not easy to return it but he made a mockery of it. I was very upset, it pained me,” says Raina.

Raina says that if Kher has some dignity left he should not accept the Rajya Sabha post.

“For his own grace he should refuse it or else he will have to defend the decision all his life,” says Raina.

Kher, however, has an admirer in Sunil Shakdhar, former president of Kashmiri Samiti.

“He is an India Kaskhmiri Pandit who was born a KP family, eats Kashmiri food speaks Kashmiri. His family migrated during the first onslaught on Kashmiri pundits by the Qabayalis. Many people do not know of that he was the chief guest in first KP world conference held in Siri Fort in 1993-94. He has been espousing Kashmiri cause since then. He has visited Kashmiri camps also. His wife became BJP MP accidentally, it is not his fault,” says Shakdhar in Kher’s defence.

Shakdhar believes that Kher will espouse their cause in Rajya Sabha.

“If he speaks about us in RS it is good or else we will criticize him. But as his roots are in Kashmir, I am sure he will fight for our cause,” says Shakdhar.
With Agencies