Wednesday, January 18, 2012

19/01/90: When Kashmiri Pandits fled Islamic terror

First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.

-- Martin Niemöller on German intellectuals who failed to stand up to Nazi terror. Applies to our intellectuals too who have spectacularly failed to raise their voice against Islamic terror.

'Be One With Us, Run, or Die...'

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 & 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!"

'Asi Gachchi Pakistan, Batao Roas te Batanev San...'

Srinagar, January 19, 1990. Jagmohan arrives to take charge as Governor of Jammu & 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 & 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 Islam); "Asi gachchi Pakistan, Batao roas te Batanev san" (We want Pakistan along with Hindu women but without their men).

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 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 to desperation.

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.

Pandits don't live here anymore, the Valley has been cleansed of Hindus...

Srinagar, January 19, 2012. There are no Kashmiri Pandits in Srinagar, or, for that matter, anywhere else in Kashmir Valley; they don't live here anymore. You can find them in squalid refugee camps in Jammu and Delhi. At least 300,000 Kashmiri Pandits who fled their home and hearth in 1990 have been reduced to living the lives of refugees in their own country; many have since migrated to foreign shores.

Of those who remain in India, two-thirds are camping in Jammu. The rest are in Delhi and in other 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 22 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 their country.

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 public memory.
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 & 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 Hindu civilisation.

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 at least 300,000 lives have been destroyed.

And, our jholawallah 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 22nd 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 resistance.

(This is a slightly modified/updated version of the first of a two-part essay that appeared on on January 19, 2005.)


Sharma, Nishit said...

Nothing worse cn happen to anyone than leaving ur own motherland...I pray 2 GOD, such incidents shuld nt happen to anyone nt even 2 ur enemy...

Dr. Michelle Harrison said...

Even before they came for the Communists, they came for the mentally ill and the disabled, those who could not speak out. Theirs were "lives not worth living."

prashhanthkpp said...

A painful reality indeed. Ethnic cleansing right under our nose and not one outcry from the Congress led UPA Government, both 1 & 2. It is needless to say that it indeed was during their tenure that the Kashmiri problem rose to its zenith. Parochial and puny vote bank politics played by our politicians in connivance with the Terrorists totally weighed down the core issue of the exodus of KPs from the valley. While the Government rose to the unnecessary occasion of granting citizenship to over a million Bangladeshi Muslims, the same enthusiasm was lost, rather not found with tackling the Kashmiri Hindu plight. That the problem will remain unresolved is beyond anybody's guess. That their status as refugees will prevail is but a reality. That there is no political inclination to solve the issue is but the sad truth!

Wonderfully and painfully written Sir!

Anonymous said...

so called kashmiri pandit ( Hindus) deserve this . Because they cannot unite against suppression orterror

Viva Kermani said...

Kanchan - Thank you for reminding us about the horror that has been inflicted on a people and their forced and cruel expulsion from their own land. This is indeed a very poignant piece and must be read and re-read. It is important that the forced exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits from their homeland be enshrined in history, in text books but also in museum - we must have an Indian Holocaust Museum and facts must be presented as facts.

shruti vyas said...

deeply moving for some1 my generation who was too young to have read or understood it.. must be shared and lessons learnt.. wht we really need is that the Kashmiri Pandits also unite and be a force to reckon where they demand their rightful homes and place in kashmir.. may that happen very soon..

irfanwani said...

22 years back we Kashmiri Muslim did a un Human act which most of us have realized long back and now have taken steps to establish brotherhood with the mistrusted ones, as our those acts of 22 years back (intervening night of 19th & 20th Jan)also put Islamic Teachings at stack what ever we did was against Islam and Nizaam-e-Mustafa. '''"All d mosques in d valley threatened us, "Pandits"''' This is the biggest Un Islamic act to threatened especially Minority that too from the Masjid were Peace and brotherhood is taught...We even broke the Laws of Mashjid.....When KP Community will forgive us then Allah Subantallah Will forgive US...That is the FACT...

There are Kashmiri Pundit living in Kashmir still 643 Families who never left in all districts and they have a Group KPSS led by Mr Sanjay Tikoo.And so many have gone back when they found brotherhood from Kashmiri Muslim,one of the 1st family of Mr Somnath who came back to Kandi Village in District Kupwara managed to convince 10 families to the village back..Aritacls like this really give a wrong message I just came back from Kashmir day before yesterday after 2 months having started working on brotherhood of KM & KP with Sanjay Tikoo and the locals there most of the locals agree and realize about there mistake and are with taking the steps with us to establish the brotherhood back as Kashmiri PPL are not crominal the mistake of that week 22 years back was never repeated after that week which made 643 families live there never left and made so many return back.Kanchan Gupta as a true Human should go now and then write of conditions after 22 years he will find things changed a lot militancy very low, but he will experience the reality only KASHMIRI KILLING is still 2012 two youth been killed for no reason to be killed by Indian Security Forces.

irfanwani said...

Let Past be a LESSON for the Brotherhood to be Strongest and for ever. Inshahallah Amen.

Anonymous said...

Kashmir pandits are rehabilitating or rehabilitated across India check the stats. Why government is not rehabilitating them in Jammu Kashmir itself?

Anonymous said...

why government didn't stand up for them? I am surprised tat even after all this abdullah's family still rule the state. why is he the CM.. why does our people elect him?

Vinod said...

Hi Kanchanji, thank you for reminding those of us who were too young in 1990 of the atrocities committed in our own land to our own people.

In the absence of wider media coverage, and with distractions such as cricket, reality TV and Bollywood, the burden falls on people like yourself to educate the younger generation that 'those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it'.

Thank you once again.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kanchan Ji
When I read the above lines that how KP's were forced to leave the Kashmir my eyes got full of tears. I'm also a KP and I was born in a refugee camp at Jammu. Thanks for reminding me again about how my parents suffered that very ill times.
I would like to convey my message to the above Mr. wani that I was delighted to know that you KM are repenting on ur early doings and accepting that u people were the cause of our ethnic cleansing.

NKS said...

jab khud pe padi hai to bhaichara yaad aa raha hai bhaiya ???
neta banana hai kya apko ??
INDIAN SECURITY FORCES are doing the right thing to you people u deserve this more youths will be shot dead.

kapil said...

i dont know what to say but nothing is worst than this

Anonymous said...

NKS; Please be careful I hope you didn't forget parliment and other incidents yet?

Every action has a reaction theory.

And you also have to check UN resolution about Kashmir. Check the histry my Little boy.

Vineet Bhardwaj said...

Dear Mr Irfan Wani

You might be a very well meaning person but the actions by your bretheren in J&K in 1990 and prior to that do not boast of any Kashmiriyat. In fact for an outsider like me, Kashmiriyat was a second name for pseudo secularism, congress style vislible in other parts of the country.

The slogans pertaining to Hindu women are well in line with the Women & Children being taken slaves in name of Holy Wars by your religion of peace. So please do not shed your crocodile tears.

Nowhere on earth where Muslims are in majority has the minority grown in life and Kashmir was not to be any different.

As a Bharatwasi I ought to hang my head in shame for having not done anything.

Had it been the reverse, if Muslims had to migrate, then all the secular brigade would have let all hell loose. The Army should get some land cleared, adjacent to Jammu for KPs and declare the land of Jammu, Ladakh and this promised one for KPs as Union Territory

What a shame for our so called "Secularism" and Hindus in particular..

NKS said...

Naam bata dete to kuch sahuliyat hoti is bachhe ko apko address karne mein phir bhi ap itne bade to jarur honge ki samajh jayenge ki apko hi address kiya ja raha hai.
jahaan tak reaction ki baat hai to reaction koun sa hai armed forces ka kaam ya parliament attack ye to nazariye ki baat hai.Puri dunia ki baat na karo miyan puri duniya mein apki kya halat hai ye humne bhi dekha hai.And plz dont preach me in this matter.

sheen said...

With all due respect, Sir...
There still are a handful of Kashmiri Pandits in Srinagar. Those that didn't have to fled because they were lucky enough to have some humane well wishers in the name of true Kashmiris, true friends...with their Kashmiriyat sane.
I say this, from first hand experience, for I met them during my visit to Srinagar in 2007. That they are there and that their Kashmiri Muslim friends helped them stay and survive in the strife torn Kashmir all these years, is some ray of hope for the vandalized humanity...a sliver of a thing, but a ray of hope still.

Of course, nothing can even ever begin to alleviate the much heart rending genocide of not just the Kashmiri Pandits, but of humanity as well, not to even speak of the very religion whose advocates sought the 'cleansing'.

Thank you for a well called for reminder, a perpetually benumbed people must be brought to, time and again.