The Tibetan Diaspora in Kashmir -The Ignored Underbelly

Author:   Suheel Rasool Mir, Shameem Ahamad Ganayee & Towseef Ahmad Wani
Publisher:   GRFDT
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The present study was carried out on Tibetan Diaspora in central Kashmir’s District Srinagar. They are ethnically and culturally quite distinct from rest of the valley. This community is easily distinguishable from the rest of Kashmiris. Speaking broken Kashmiri, carrying Mongoloid facial features, adorning a unique culture and dresses are their apparent personality traits.  More than 42,000 refugees left Tibet in January 1960 (Central Tibetan Administration). More than 140 Tibetan families fled together from Tibet to Srinagar. Tibetans are settled here at three places in Srinagar: Makhdoom Sahib, Badamwari and Eidgah. Tibetan refugees, who had fled China after their failed uprising against Chinese authorities during 1950s, had settled in Srinagar’s Eidgah area of district Srinagar. More than 60 families are residing in Tibetan colony set-up by the state government for Tibetan refugees. However, from employment to basic amenities they are facing plethora of problems. Even Tibetans in Kashmir cannot apply for government jobs nor can purchase land. They are routinely facing difficulties like they don’t enjoy the same rights as those of the natives of Jammu and Kashmir. They face certain restriction including not being allowed to purchase land or get governmental jobs .they are still living in Kashmir under refugee status, even if they were born in the state. However, successive regimes have failed to make them state subjects of Jammu and Kashmir though they are given voter ID cards and are entitled to vote. Land lease documents are not issued to them, there’s insecurity due to eviction fears from rehabilitated areas, the youth face unemployment and the community cannot access the government’s developmental schemes. On the other side they are facing identity crisis. In Tibet they are called as Kashmiris and in Kashmir they are being called as Tibetan. The Tibetan Muslims living in Kashmir are now a mixed identity. Their exposure to two cultures, Kashmiri and Tibetan, has turned them into a unique community separate from both. They are not politically integrated in Kashmir. Moreover; there is no clarity about their legal status which becomes most evident while applying for loans, passports or gaining admissions in universities. The study on Tibetan Diaspora in Kashmir is divided into four parts. The first part poses certain questions, looking at the genesis of Tibetan Diaspora in Kashmir. The second part gives brief account of relevant literature. The third part gives a brief account about Indian migration to Europe and studies on the Indian Diaspora. The fourth part analyzes the major findings of the study. The discussion has been confined in this project work to Tibetan Diaspora of Kashmir. Therefore the purpose of the present study entitled as ‘‘The Tibetan Diaspora in Kashmir -The Ignored Underbelly’’ is to highlight the ground reality.
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