Washington, USA, December 7, 2012
Kashmiri Hindu Community leaders from India and US paid rich tributes to Balasaheb Keshav Thackeray. Leaders from all major Kashmiri Hindu organizations recalled the services rendered by this great leader specifically for Kashmiri Hindu Community.
Ashoke Pandit, a famous Film Director and community leader from Mumbai India opined that leaders like Balasaheb Thackeray are not created in a day – they emerge out of the vacuum of leaders with mass appeal.
"I still remember my first encounter with him in the 90’s when the issue of insurgency in Kashmir was at its peak. Three and a half lakh Kashmiri Pandits were thrown out of their homeland, making them refugees in their own country. It was one of the biggest exoduses in the Indian history. These people were rendered homeless, killed brutally, while the politicians, who were supposed to be their saviors, didn’t act because they could not see a vote-bank. It was Balasaheb Thackeray who immediately ordered a reservation to be fixed for the refugee Kashmiri youths in all the colleges of Maharashtra. The reservation included Muslims, Ladakhi, Pandit and the children of security forces serving in the valley. When he announced the reservation, he didn’t demarcate on the basis of religion. The announcement was for everybody. This way, he secured the future of 50,000 youths who had the choice of picking up guns in the absence of education. For me, this was Balasaheb Thackeray who did not shy away from taking a stand while those in Delhi were taking refuge behind the diplomacy of terrorism."
President Kashmiri Hindu Foundation, USA - Ankit Monga said that "He taught us to be fearless. He was not just lion of Maharashtrians but for Kashmiri Hindu community. His passion was so strong and leadership so powerful that he led and people followed, even without winning any election.", while Paviter Handoo President Kashmiri Overseas Association, USA called him like a God father of the community and that he will remain in each and every Kashmiri Pandit heart for ever.
Dr. Ajay Chrungoo, Chairman Panun Kashmir recalled Balasaheb wholeheartedly supporting the idea of creating the Union Territory of Panun Kashmir in Jammu and Kashmir as a solution to Kashmir problem and for mitigating the suffering of the of the exiled Kashmiri Hindus.
Arun Koul of Shehjar, a leading Kashmiri News Magazine recalled how Balasaheb stood up as a saving grace for the 500,000 internally displaced community of Kashmiri Hindus. "They begged educational opportunities for their hapless children and he came to the rescue. The community remains indebted and grateful to Balasaheb for this reason."