Srinagar, January 4, 1990.
Aftab, a local Urdu newspaper, publishes a press release issued by Hizb-ul
Mujahideen, set up by the Jamaat-e-Islami in 1989 to wage jihad for
Jammu and Kashmir's secession from India and accession to Pakistan,
asking all Hindus to pack up and leave. Another local paper, Al Safa,
repeats this expulsion order.
In the following days, there is near chaos in the Kashmir valley with
Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and his National Conference government
abdicating all responsibilities of the State. Masked men run amok, waving
Kalashnikovs, shooting to kill and shouting anti-India slogans.
Reports of killing of Hindus, invariably Kashmiri Pandits, begin to
trickle in; there are explosions; inflammatory speeches are made from
the pulpits of mosques, using public address systems meant for calling
the faithful to prayers. A terrifying fear psychosis begins to take
grip of Kashmiri Pandits.
Walls are plastered with posters and handbills, summarily ordering all
Kashmiris to strictly follow the Islamic dress code, prohibiting the
sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks and imposing a ban on video
parlours and cinemas. The masked men with Kalashnikovs force people
to re-set their watches and clocks to Pakistan Standard Time.
Shops, business establishments and homes of Kashmiri Pandits, the original
inhabitants of the Kashmir valley with a recorded cultural and civilisational
history dating back 5,000 years, are marked out. Notices are pasted
on doors of Pandit houses, peremptorily asking the occupants to leave
Kashmir within 24 hours or face death and worse. Some are more lucid:
"Be one with us, run, or die!"
Srinagar, January 19, 1990.
Jagmohan arrives to take charge as governor of Jammu and Kashmir. Farooq
Abdullah, whose pathetic, whimpering, snivelling government has all
but ceased to exist and has gone into hiding, resigns and goes into
a sulk. Curfew is imposed as a first measure to restore some semblance
of law and order. But it fails to have a deterrent effect.
Throughout the day, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front and Hizbul Mujahideen
terrorists use public address systems at mosques to exhort people to
defy curfew and take to the streets. Masked men, firing from their Kalashnikovs,
march up and down, terrorising cowering Pandits who, by then, have locked
themselves in their homes.
As evening falls, the exhortations become louder and shriller. Three
taped slogans are repeatedly played the whole night from mosques: 'Kashmir
mei agar rehna hai, Allah-O-Akbar kehna hai' (If you want to stay in
Kashmir, you have to say Allah-O-Akbar); 'Yahan kya chalega, Nizam-e-Mustafa'
(What do we want here? Rule of Shariah); 'Asi gachchi Pakistan, Batao
roas te Batanev san' (We want Pakistan along with Hindu women but without
In the preceding months, 300 Hindu men and women, nearly all of them
Kashmiri Pandits, had been slaughtered ever since the brutal murder
of Pandit Tika Lal Taploo, noted lawyer and BJP national executive member,
by the JKLF in Srinagar on September 14, 1989. Soon after that, Justice
N K Ganju of the Srinagar high court was shot dead. Pandit Sarwanand
Premi, 80-year-old poet, and his son were kidnapped, tortured, their
eyes gouged out, and hanged to death. A Kashmiri Pandit nurse working
at the Soura Medical College Hospital in Srinagar was gang-raped and
then beaten to death. Another woman was abducted, raped and sliced into
bits and pieces at a sawmill.
In villages and towns across the Kashmir valley, terrorist hit lists
have been floating about. All the names are of Kashmiri Pandits. With
no government worth its name, the administration having collapsed and
disappeared, the police nowhere to be seen, despondency sets in. As
the night of January 19, 1990, wears itself out, despondency gives way
And tens of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits across the valley take a painful
decision: to flee their homeland to save their lives from rabid jihadis.
Thus takes place a 20th century Exodus.
Srinagar, January 19, 2005. There are no Kashmiri Pandits in
Srinagar, or, for that matter, anywhere else in the Kashmir valley;
they don't live here anymore. You can find them in squalid refugee camps
in Jammu and Delhi. As many as 300,000 Kashmiri Pandits have fled their
home and hearth and been reduced to living the lives of refugees in
their own country.
Two-thirds of them are camping in Jammu. The rest are in Delhi and in
other Indian cities. Many of them, once prosperous and proud of their
rich heritage, now live in grovelling poverty, dependent on government
dole and charity. In these 15 years, an entire generation of exiled
Kashmiri Pandits has grown up, without seeing the land from where their
parents fled to escape the brutalities of Islamic terrorism, a land
they dare not return to, although that land still remains a part of
A large number of them are suffering from a variety of stress and depression
related diseases. A group of doctors who surveyed the mental and physical
health of the Kashmiri Pandits living in refugee camps, found high incidence
of 'economic distress, stress induced diabetes, partial lunacy, hypertension
and mental retardation.' Statistics reflect high death rate and low
birth rate among the Kashmiri Pandit refugees.
And thereby hangs a tragic tale that has been all but wiped out from
An entire people have been uprooted from the land of their ancestors
and left to fend for themselves as a weak-kneed Indian state shamelessly
panders to Islamic terrorists and separatists who claim they are the
final arbiters of Jammu and Kashmir's destiny. A part of India's cultural
heritage has been destroyed; a chapter of India's civilisational history
has been erased.
Had this tragedy occurred elsewhere in Hindu majority India, and had
the victims been Muslims, we would have described it as 'ethnic cleansing'
and 'genocide.' We would have made films with horror-inducing titles.
We would have filed cases in the Supreme Court of India. Our media would
have marshalled remarkable rage in reporting the smallest detail.
But, this tragedy has occurred in Muslim majority Kashmir valley, and
the victims are all Hindus, that too Pandits. What has been lost is
part of India's Hindu culture, what has been erased is integral to India's
Therefore, the government makes bold to record that the Kashmiri Pandits
have "migrated on their own" and their 'displacement (is)
self-imposed;' the National Human Rights Commission, after a perfunctory
inquiry, refuses to concede that what has happened is 'genocide' or
'ethnic cleansing,' though facts add up to no less than that, never
mind that 300,000 lives have been destroyed.
And, our jhola-wallah brigade of secular activists rudely turn up their
noses to the plight of Kashmiri Pandits: Hindu sorrow, inflicted by
Islamic terror, stinks.
Today, on January 19, the 15th anniversary of the forced flight of Kashmiri
Pandits, look back at India's wretched history of secular politics and
consider the terrible price the nation has paid at the altar of appeasement
because the Indian State has, and continues to, toe the line of least