Exodus of Pandits


The increasing frequency in strike calls by the separatist groups lends credence to the fact that history repeats itself. Similar events and frequent encounters were a routine of the 1990’s. People would often be forced to lie on the ground to escape bullets and pellets. Windows and kitchen shelves would often bear bullet marks. 

It was the winter of 1990, January 19 to be precise, when people of Srinagar were widely protesting and marching towards Lal Chowk. As the protesters reached Gaw Kadal, they were shot upon. Many people fell prey to the bullets but even more died because they jumped into the river to escape the bullets. Asian Age newspaper reported that January 19 became the catalyst which propelled the scattered protests into a mass upsurge. The entire valley became paralysed after this brutal incident. The mass anger grew further and people, especially Kashmiri Muslims, began protesting widely. One thing led to another and a feeling of alienation started developing between the Muslims and Pandits. Despite this, the Pandits still sympathised with the teens and youth who were experiencing a state of hypnosis by the AK-47s placed in their immature hands, which was driving them to slaughter the ethics of Kashmiris. The sense of hospitality that existed among the people of the valley did not last long after this slaughter of morals, ethics and religious teachings.  Even though most Kashmiris left no stone unturned to stop their Pandit brethren from leaving their beloved motherland, the nights of March 1990 witnessed the Pandits crossing the Jawahar Tunnel, leaving their motherland behind. Brutal incidents like Bijbehara massacre, which took place just 3 years after the Gaw-Kadal massacre and Kunan Pushpora mass rape by the Indian forces and many more brutalities which cannot even be expressed in words caused widespread anger not only among the Kashmiri Muslims but also among the Kashmiri Sikh community, which too experienced brutalities in Chatthi-Singh pora of South Kashmir. 

Kashmir, after two and a half decades, is seeing the return of the Pandits who left their homes not because they were forced but on their own terms. With Kashmir savouring the pluralistic social and religious brotherhood once again, a new era has begun which is not unlike the pre 1990’s era. At the same time, insurgency and militants activities too are on rise. The Indian forces have successfully converted the paradise on earth into a military fortress. Indian soldiers employ various gimmicks like fake encounters to present the peaceful valley of Kashmir as a politically unsound and dangerous zone to the world media. Association of parents of disappeared persons reports the number of disappeared somewhere around 8000-10000 from 1989 to 2006. There are thousands of unmarked graves which are only mentioned in articles or documentaries but never in any legal documents or investigations. 

Many Kashmiri women have lived most of their lives as ‘Half Widows’. It is worth mentioning that one of the mothers died at the cemented veranda of her house waiting for her son to return, her eyes shedding countless tears for her disappeared son. Only those who have lost their beloved ones know the pain they suffer every day. It has been rightly said that the thing about pain is that it demands to be felt. One can easily write about the injustice and brutalities meted out to Kashmiris while sitting safely in a room with a coffee mug placed on a fully furnished desk. But when this pain is felt in reality by someone, he is left with no choice but to retaliate with the same intensity as the Kashmiris have done. As mentioned before, history repeats itself. Delhi is making every effort to keep a tight hold on Kashmir by spending crores on road and railway connectivity. The drain theory which was used by the British is being employed in Kashmir today. From setting the prices of the Kashmiri apple, the main productive resource of Kashmir to exploiting Jammu and Kashmir’s power resources while the valley reels in darkness clearly indicate that the valley stands occupied. 



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