Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir Valley
By I. Ramamohan Rao
New Delhi [India], Jan.21 (ANI): Another anniversary went by last week of the exodus of approximately a hundred thousand Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir valley to safer parts of the state. More than 60,000 families were displaced from January 1990 onwards. Those families have all but given up hope of ever returning home despite half hearted calls from many political parties that they would be safe if they returned.
On December 8th 1989 Rubaiya Sayeed , the daughter of the then Home Minister of India, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed was kidnapped by members of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). She was kidnapped five days after her father was sworn in as first Muslim Union Home Minister.
The then Chief Minister Dr. Farooq Abdullah and Governor, General (Retired) K.V. Krishna Rao tried their best not to give into the demands of militants to release top JKLF militants in custody. Negotiations broke down and under persuasion of cabinet minister Inder Kumar Gujral (who later became Prime Minister) and Arif Mohammad Khan, the government released five militants and Rubaiya was released.
General Krishna Rao resigned and was followed by the Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah. The Central Government appointed Jagmohan as governor on January 19, 1989 and governor's rule was imposed. The state assembly was kept under suspended animation. This incident was a significant victory of militants who wrecked havoc in the state.
Violence erupted across the valley and Kashmiri Pandits became targets of the violence. Governor Jagmohan asked Kashmiri Pandits to leave the valley after assuring them protection. The exodus which commenced on January 19th 1990 continued for months and the Kashmiri Pandits settled as refugees in Jammu and parts of Delhi.
Pandit families recall the horror of those weeks when loudspeakers in the valley had chilling messages for Hindus and Sikhs. "Ralive, Tsaliv ya Galive" (convert to Islam, leave this land or be prepared to die). Pandits were dragged out of their homes and shot in cold blood in front of their children. Families fled in droves as the administration watched helplessly.
This was the seventh reported exodus in history in Kashmir. Since that horrific weeks in 1990 several governments have come and gone in Jammu and Kashmir and at the centre, but for the thousands of Kashmiri families the dream of returning home has remained that..a dream.
Inflammatory speeches from jihadis still resonate in Kashmir. The threats are still there despite the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly passing a resolution on January 19th 2017 that "a good conducive atmosphere should be created for the safe return to the valley" of Kashmiri pandits.
I worked as media advisor to General Krishna Rao and General Girish (Gary) Chandra Saxena when they were governors in Jammu and Kashmir. I have personally seen the agony and suffering of the Kashmiri Pandit community. The fear of living under the shadow of threats and violence by the majority community, the utter hopelessness that the elders of the community felt on leaving ancestral homes, the machinations of foreign elements in twisting the arm of successive governments in India.all this has made the Kashmiri Pandit issue a decades old festering wound. No community leader and no political party has made common cause with Kashmiri pandits. They are used during elections and discarded later.
A clutch of articles in Indian newspapers commemorate the exodus of 1990 every year. The silent ethnic cleansing has remained unresolved. The wrongs of that period have never been righted. It will remain as one of the regrets of my generation of government servants who saw it happening and could do nothing to stop it, to correct it and to make amends. (ANI)