Justice Katju: If I forget you O Kashmir, may my right hand perish

Justice Markandey Katju-

(Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)

Even 2000 years after their diaspora from Palestine, Jews still say, ”If I forget you O Jerusalem, may my right hand perish” ( Psalms 137 : 5 ).

Similarly, the Kashmiri Pandits like me who had migrated from Kashmir a long time back still say ” If I forget you O Kashmir, may my right hand perish”.

About the beauty of Kashmir, it is often said, ”If there is a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this ”.


My ancestor Pandit Mansa Ram Katju had migrated from Kashmir over 200 years back to the plains of India, and thereafter my family lived in Jaora, a princely state in western Madhya Pradesh, for several generations, serving under the Nawabs of Jaora, and then in Allahabad in UP, where my grandfather Dr KN Katju established a huge law practice in the Allahabad High Court.

But we never forgot Kashmir, the home of our ancestors. We married only among Kashmiri Pandits, retained some of our customary rituals like herat, navroz, etc, and were non-vegetarians ( unlike local Brahmins ), though we had forgotten our language Kashmiri.

Though priding myself as a Kashmiri, I had not seen Kashmir till 1974 after I married a Kashmiri lady ( to whom I am still married ), whose family had remained in Kashmir and had not migrated like mine. When I went there I felt like the Biblical prodigal son returning home, but after a gap of 175 years or so.

My ancestor, and the ancestors of the Kashmiri Pandits like Jawahar Lal Nehru, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, etc who had left Kashmir about 200 years ago, had not migrated because of persecution ( as was the case of Kashmiri Pandits whose exodus from Kashmir happened in the 1990s ), but for seeking jobs, which they got in the princely states in British India ( as they were highly proficient in Persian and Urdu, the Court languages ).

I know I will in all probability never go back to Kashmir, as I will feel unsafe there ( though many Kashmiri Muslims have invited me ). The 2600 Kashmiri Pandits still living in Kashmir ( out of the 500,000 living there in 1990 ) are sometimes killed by extremists even today.





A large number of innocent Kashmiri Muslims too have been killed in Kashmir over the years by Indian security forces, and I have always condemned this, as I regard Kashmiri Muslims too as my brothers and sisters.

I sometimes wish that like the Biblical prodigal son, I too could come to my home Kashmir, but I know that will never happen.


Yet, despite this sad situation, I will still keep saying ”If I forget you O Kashmir, may my right hand perish .”





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