17 years ago, some of them were still sucking their thumbs.
17 years ago, some of them were still trying to learn their ABCs.
17 years ago, some of them were still playing with their trucks and dolls.
17 years ago, during the darkest night of January 19, 1990, their parents had to clutch them to their chests and escape the claws of death looming over their heads. That night, these parents had to take the extreme step of leaving their roots behind in the land of their ancestors so that their toddlers could have a life of their own.
17 years later, these toddlers have grown up and the only passion in their lives is to look for and connect back to their roots.
Yes, these are the unfortunate and forsaken young adults from the Kashmiri Hindu community who have spent their entire childhood and adolescence in exile, living as refugees in their own country. For the last 17 years, they have been growing up dreaming about the roots they want to connect to.
These young adults are very grateful to all those communities, spread all across the nation, who embraced them and gave them the love, compassion and warmth that they badly needed during their growing years. All their lives, while going through the rigours of childhood and adolescence, they have hoped against hope that the respective governments in the Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir will take concrete steps to help them connect with their roots.
Sadly, their dreams and aspirations still remain dreams.
After waiting and hoping for 17 long years, these young adults have now decided to take charge and be the change that they want to bring about. They are ready -- charged with 'passion', armed with 'reason' and primed with 'zeal' -- to take the bull by the horns and make a difference. And the difference they will make.
Roots In Kashmir is an initiative that these young Kashmiri Hindus have launched to reclaim and connect back to their roots. It is an initiative to protest and increase the awareness of human rights violations against the Kashmiri Hindu community, who have been languishing in refugee camps and elsewhere in their own country.
To escape persecution, more than 400,000 Kashmiri Hindus had to leave their homes and hearths back in the valley. Even after 17 years in exile, more than 50,000 of these Kashmiri Hindu refugees are living in hellish conditions in uninhabitable refugee camps.
Roots In Kashmir strongly believes that successive Indian Union and state governments have failed in protecting the human rights of the Kashmiri Hindu community. It also believes that various human rights organisations have miserably failed in highlighting the human rights violations against the minority community in the Kashmir valley.
Roots In Kashmir demands that the Indian Union government should grant the status of 'Internally Displaced People' to Kashmiri Hindus. This demand is in line with the United Nation's definition of 'Internally Displaced People'. It also demands that a blueprint for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Hindus should be created by the Indian Union and Jammu and Kashmir state governments at a war-footing.
Roots In Kashmir organised its first event in the form of a protest rally at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Human Rights Day, Sunday, December 10, 2006. This protest rally was to highlight the government's apathy towards its citizens, who have steadfastly stood for her identity, integrity, and sovereignty.
The Kashmiri Hindu community is the one community that has lost its own identity because it stood for India's identity in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In spite of the threats perpetrated by global terrorism, supported and abetted by our friends across the border on the west (Yes, I mean Pakistan), it is the community that continues to keep the Indian tricolour up and flying in the Kashmir valley.
This protest rally is not only to highlight the ethnic cleansing of Kashmir Hindus. It is also to highlight the grave danger that our great nation is facing at the hands of global terrorism. The menace of global terrorism is not making any distinction between those who raise the Indian tricolour in Kashmir and those who raise the Indian tricolour in Kerala.
Anyone who believes in the Indian tricolour is in the line of fire and this fire of global terrorism is spreading at such an alarming pace that it needs to be quelled now. If the powers that be don't wake up today, tomorrow might be too late. The tentacles of global terrorism are well spread all across the nation and only a traitor will ignore such a threat.
I believe our politicians are selfish with no regard for the security and sovereignty of the nation. They are not patriots who will be united in their fight against the nation's enemies.
Under such circumstances, it becomes imperative for today's youth to take the cudgels and lead the efforts to change the system that badly needs an overhaul. These young Kashmiri Hindus are our future and they need all the support and encouragement from one and all.
It is imperative for all the youth of our great nation to step up to the plate and be involved in creating India's destiny. We cannot afford to wait for our senior politicians to wake up. They can be there to provide the moral support but the baton has to be handed over to the youth.
And these youth are ready -- ready to take the charge.
Are you ready to provide them the support -- moral, physical, economical and political?
Are you ready to help them reconnect back to their roots? This is the beginning of the change that will transform India.
Be part of this history making event and do your bit. You owe this to your nation.
Be a proud Indian and help these youth reconnect back to their roots.