When the whole country was silent for fear of terrorists, only Bala Sahib spoke openly on the issues of Kashmiri Pandits. He also openly advocated giving arms to Kashmiri Pandits for self-defense.
Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena leader
When Kashmiri Pandits fled Kashmir and reached Mumbai
Thousands of Kashmiri Pandits had to flee their homes to other parts of the country. Many people had left the valley and reached Mumbai. These were the people who had fled for their lives in Kashmir. Most of them, who were forced to flee with their parents, wives and children, had nothing but clothes on their bodies. These homeless people did not even know what to do next. Today’s generation will be proud to know that at that time Maharashtra proved to be a state which did everything possible to help the Kashmiri Pandits.
Sanjay Nahar, who runs an NGO called Sarhad in Pune, says, “A delegation of Kashmiri Pandits led by the then retired Lt. Gen. PN Hunn met Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray. The condition of Kashmiri Pandits was explained to him. He asked Bala Sahib to use his position to give reservation to Kashmiri Pandits in technical and engineering courses.
Yasin Malik says in an interview that if there is one biggest criminal in this world, it is Mahatma Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose. No action has been taken against him since then. However, if anyone mentions Nathuram Godse, cases are registered against him.
Balasaheb Thackeray (said in a program)
Writer Rahul Pandita also states that Kashmiri Pandits did not have a penny in their pockets but they did not ask for financial help but wanted something that would help them to stand on their own two feet and become self reliant. .
It was none other than the current spokesperson of the party, Sanjay Raut, to whom a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits had come to meet the Shiv Sena chief. He was a young journalist at the time. Bala Sahib immediately accepted the proposal of the Kashmiri Pandits, while the opposition parties also mocked it.
Nahar says that by giving reservations, Bala Sahib filled the Kashmiri migrants with confidence and benefited about 7,000-8,000 people. Pandita says that Bala Sahib helped unconditionally and he never saw Kashmiri Pandits as a vote bank. This was his complete selfless move.
KashmiriBal Thackeray was ready to give arms to the Pandits
Recalling those days, Shiv Sena MP Raut says that only Bala Sahib spoke openly on the issues of Kashmiri Pandits when the whole country was silent due to fear of terrorists. He said that when the delegation met Bala Sahib they also talked about giving arms to Kashmiri Pandits for self defense but they (Pandits) rejected it and demanded reservation in education.
Bala Sahib had given five per cent reservation to Kashmiri migrants in the state. No one can understand their pain as much as Shiv Sena can. Kashmiri Pandits openly say that when they had no one to speak for them, only Bala Sahib killed them.
HN Wanchu was killed by terrorists in December 1992. His grandson Amit Wanchu says many people had no money, no friends and had been living in slums or dirty animal farms for months. We have always believed that education is important for children but how to educate them away from home was a big challenge. Despite losing almost all of his family members, Amit Wanchu still lives in Kashmir.
Both Rahul Pandita and Wanchu say that the high positions of Kashmiri Pandits in the central government or in companies around the world have been made possible by the Maharashtra government. Wanchu says that inspired by Bala Sahib, the whole of Maharashtra helped the Kashmiri Pandits. There were many students in Maharashtra who could not pay their rent but the landlord quietly waived their rent. He said that when he met Bala Sahib in 1994, he was surprised to know that he had not left Kashmir.
Nahar says several NGOs in Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad, Nashik and other cities have also come forward to help Kashmiri migrants. They were provided with food and clothing. Pandita and Wanchu say that the debt of Bala Sahib will remain forever and the Kashmiri displaced people will always consider Maharashtra as their second home. The initiative of Bala Sahib to give reservation to the devastated Kashmir has now gone a long way and the Union Government is also helping them by giving various reservations.
(With inputs from IANS)