How many we the (Kashmiri Pandit) count up to? || LIVE IMAGE

The earliest count of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley goes to the credit of William Elmslie. According to his enumeration in 1865, the priestly 'bata' counted 500 families; the Jotshi Hindus numbered between 100 to 150 houses.   And about the Karkuns , he gives no count of their number but makes a general observation: " The Karkun Hindus who are writers, merchants and farmers, but never soldiers; relatively this is very numerous class".

Pandit Anand Kaul citing the Census of 1921 informs us that the population of the Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley was 55052 with a growth rate of 3.5% per annum.

T.N.Madan, Emeritus Professor, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi University is a world renowned Anthropologist. Considered as the most  outstanding living KP scholar and academician, he, writing in 2001, tells us:  

"By the end of the year (1990), most of the approximately 150,000 Pandits of Kashmir had abandoned their homes and properties and their work to escape to places of safety outside the valley."

Prof. Madan further writes:

"According to the 1981 official census, the total population of Hindus in the six districts comprising the Kashmir Valley was 124078. Most of them may be presumed to have been Pandits. Allowing for an annual rate of growth of about 2%, the population of Pandits in 1990, when the exodus began, would have been about 148800. Pandit organizations consider this a low estimate because of under-enumeration at the earlier censuses. 

"Even if this possibility were to be granted, a figure above 200000 would definitely be gross exaggeration".
" Of the estimated 200000 Pandits all but about 10000 persons, or even less( living in about 270 locations), have left their homes, jobs, businesses and properties to seek shelter in refuge camps in Jammu, Delhi and elsewhere or with relatives".

Another authority extolled  by Kashmiri Pandits is the world renowned American academic Professor Michael Witzel. He is Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Studies at the  Harvard University, Cambridge, USA. A great sympathizer of the Kashmiri Pandits and an authority on the  early history and religion of the community, Witzel writes:

"Due to the recent troubles in the Valley most Kashmiri Brahmans have again fled the Valley and have settled at Jammu and elsewhere.

"More than one hundred thousand (100000), that is almost all, are said to have left the Valley for Jammu and other parts of India during the 1990s".
This being the population figure of the community( presently Not more than 200000)  given by the most eminent authorities of our times and based on scientific enumeration, data and other  census parameters then how is that community leadership during these last 30 years of our displacement from Kashmir have claimed that 3 to 4 lac Kashmiri Pandits were displaced as a result of the outbreak of the militancy there. Also by and large the community claims made by its various leaders in different organizations both in India and abroad have harped in putting the total community count at 7 lac souls based on the registered number of displaced Kashmiri Pandit families and their diaspora otherwise.  
From these two contradictory estimates; one that is given by anthropological authorities and the other as claimed by the various leaders of the community heading different  community organizations, it is evident that both such counts of the community number can not be right. One has to be wrong. Both the figures give can not be correct.
In the light of these contradictory population figures of the community quoted and cited above, I appeal to all intellectuals, scholars and authorities on the subject within and outside the community to clear my doubts on the actual present population figure of our community.
In this regard, I  am also keen to know that if the estimates given by  the professional authorities is wrong, then why till now they have NOT been questioned on this misrepresentation and if the figures given by them is correct, then why the community leadership has inflated the number and for what reasons.

Both are answerable to the community. 

It is time we know that how many ' actually' we are? The figure has to be correct, factual and scientifically enumerated. Perhaps, this is the most vital criterion of of the community's future strategy for its survival and progress. Without the correct census of the community, all our efforts of future strategic rehabilitation may mean from little to nothing.
All Kashmiri Pandits have the right to know the truth in this regard and must refuse to be fooled by fake numbers.

Numerical strength of a species  is the most important factor according to the Darwin's Principle of  evolutionary survival.
To become aware of the strength of the  community muscle is both crucial and critical.
It is, therefore my sincere hope that the community will rise to the challenge on this vital issue and not behave like an ostrich!

Community suicide is avoidable.

 By- Bushan Parimoo
(The writer is a Jammu based environmentalist and a regular contributor to this Website .)
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