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THE INCESSANT SAGA OF KASHMIRI PANDITS

Updated: Jan 19

By

  1. Siddhant Sharma, II Year of BBA.,LLB, from The Northcap University

  2. Shradha Zutshi, II Year of BBA.,LLB, from The Northcap University


One exodus, an eternity of agony....

Satisar, as Kashmir was once known to be, was a large water body surrounded by colossal mountains, with no or negligible forms of life available. The evidence testifying that Satisar existed can be found in the verses of Kalhana Pandits’ Rajatarangini’, written somewhere around the pre-Muslim era, dating 1149- 50 AD.

Satisar in existence was a tranquillest lake, believed to be the resort of lord Shiva with pristine waters and enchanting mountainous terrains, and as the name suggests, it was named after Shiva’s consort, Sati.


Who could have ever believed that a place belonging to the lord himself would be drenched in blood someday, yes, blood of the worshipers of the lord himself...blood of the Kashmiri Pandits.


As the legends have it, Shah Mir, founder of the Islamic Kashmiri dynasty, captured the kingdom of Kashmir from Rinchana’s successor and established Islam in the the 14th century.


Eras changed, centuries transitioned and the modern Kashmir was continuing life in its normal course. Kashmiri Muslims along with the Kashmiri Pandits were living in synchrony amidst the harsh, cold weathers unknown of the cold blizzard that had to come across... a blizzard that took away in its swirls the home of the Pandit community, bringing a snowfall of threat, killings, mayhem and displacement forever.


Azaadi or freedom is a very dear word to all. Freedom in the eyes of the constitution and law holds a revered place and has an importance of zenith in the hearts of all. But as the saying goes as there are two sides of a coin’, Azaadi too had a different narrative brewing in Kashmir, along with the saffron infused traditional Kehwa in the household supporting the idea of Azaadi or liberation from the Indian government.


In July 1988, the insurgency period began in Kashmir, fuelling the venom of the liberation of Kashmir from India, to form a radicalised Islamic State, and to kick off the Kashmiri Pandit community, the only Hindu minority of Kashmir. The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) had a poisonous, demonic agenda, and it began targeting the Kashmiri Hindus for the first time on 14th September of the same year, killing TIKA LAL TAPLOO, a promising advocate by profession and an eminent leader of the Bhartiya Janata party in the valley. SARLA BHATT, a staff nurse in the Sher- e- Kashmir medical sciences was abducted from her hostel on April 14, 1990. She was brutally murdered by the JKLF terrorists, who were much of a resemblance of the ISIS terror group the world is suffering from today worldwide. Simply murdering someone can still be a smaller crime to commit than to rape a woman, torture her, to outrage her modesty and then killing her. The humble nurse Sarla Bhatt was raped, tortured and then murdered brutally. Rape was confirmed by the post-mortem report of hers. And this nerve-racking incident was not the only one, PRANA GANJOO, a woman who was abducted along with her husband, prof. K.L GANJOO, was gang raped for painful and shameless counts of days before killing her and throwing her body in the riverside.


GIRIJA TIKOO, who worked as a lab assistant at Government Girls High School, Trehgam, was kidnapped, gang raped for a number of days and then killed by shredding her body into pieces on a bar and sawmill.


The harsh reality of inhumane acts by terror group is unforgettable.

Now can we call it intolerance that existed for Kashmiri Hindus or the pseudo seculars would still keep shut on it?


These are just a few cases, imagine the count of atrocities that soured upon the innocent Kashmiri Hindus... and the crime they had committed was that they were proud Indians and did not belong to the Islamic religion, and this is the price they had to pay for it.


They could not fit into the fanatic and radicalised idea, nor did they give up when tried to forcibly convert them through fear and guns, through rapes and violence.

Announcing slogans declaring that the Hindus ought to leave or else to be murdered started on the unfortunate night of January 19, 1990 mosques.


“Raeliv, Chaeliv, Ya Geliv” was a slogan of the fanatic monsters, literally meaning that either convert to Islam, runaway, or die.


The terror group also told the Kashmiri Hindu men to leave their wives and female folk here for them to lay their hands upon and to leave the state or die.

On that unfortunate night, thousands of Kashmiri Hindus fled from the state, escaping the barbarism of the terror groups that even took help from the natives so that many Hindus are either killed or leave their homeland, forever.


The community had to flee without even them being allowed to take their belongings; they had merely survived or would have been killed. With no money, food and shelter, they ran away for the sake of their lives.


Initially, when the Kashmiri Hindus... Who never had seen souring temperatures or heat, died of sun strokes and snake bites as they had no home to live in...?

The government at that time paid a deaf ear to both the exodus and the misery the community suffered from... a few migration camps were set, but had no facilities to be called as a camp in which a human could live.


The community, known to be scholarly, had their children suffering without any education, and the states they migrated to do nothing for them to ease out their agony.


As we are writing this article, the refugee status that was being given to them still continues to be there as a tag on the KP community, and their exodus never ceased to end.


Imagine even one day of being homeless, imagine the wrath of the radicals who terrorised them, imagine the pain and the endless counts of sufferings they went through...just imagine, the irony that they still continue to be refugees for their own homeland, just imagine that terror won, and the governments, the scholars, the intellectuals and even the human right activists paid a blind eye to most tragic, and painful migration seen from one’s own homeland.


The love of the country is collective in nature, but the love for ones homeland is a thing of personal belongingness and the stigma of being a refugee despite living in one’s own country is ironical and heart wrenching.


The Kashmiri Hindus properties were illegally snatched, they were not only robbed of every monetary thing they had, but also their modesty was at stake.

Isn’t it pathetic that 30 years has passed, still Kashmiri Hindus are being given meagre Intern relief till date, and no one or no government has openly accepted that they suffered beyond any boundaries?

Exodus defines Diaspora, so does the year 1990. The date 19th January, 1990 has a significant blaze in everyone’s heart, especially the Kashmiri Pandits, a trauma which is still uncured and can still be witnessed by them when the memories of that unfortunate day manifests itself inducing that agony in their hearts.

It’s been three decades, but still the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits is still prevalent as the worst nightmare that they could ever witness in their life. Exactly 30 years ago on this day, they were forced to vacate their homes and flee away from their homeland as an easy target of the Islamic Jihadis.


It has always been a hot topic for debate and was a major challenge for each and every political party that formed the government. Still, none of them could form a suitable, safe environment for Kashmiri Pandits. Being a minority, they had to face a lot of hardships ,a result of which was the havoc charged on them by the Islamic groups, leaving just three options to them, i.e., converting to Islam, leaving the homeland or just biting the dust. Hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits were massacred by the terrorists and their women were gang raped followed with murder, some of them were even kidnapped. Various Hindu temples were destroyed and stones were pelted on Hindu homes, and to everyone’s surprise, neither the police nor the administration along with the human rights activists could take a reasonable action for the welfare of the victims, none of them were perturbed enough to know the whereabouts of these people. This didn’t just stop here; the hospital staff also criticized the Hindu patients. Students going to schools and colleges, workers, all the minorities were intimidated and tortured mentally as well as physically.

Even the ruling party that had formed the government couldn’t do anything for the Kashmiri Pandits.


But they were fortunate enough to get support from the then governor Jagmohan who had called up the army in order to control the situation and stop the massacre. Many stone palters came on the road shouting slogans such as “kaafiro ko maaro” and “yahan nizam-e-Mustafa chalega” and had demanded Kashmir free from Hindu men leaving the Hindu women, “La Shariqia la ghabrbia, islamia!


Islamia! Islamia!”(From East to West there will be only Islam) and “Musalmano jaago, Kafiro Bhago”. Walls were covered with posters of fairly large letters which proclaimed the Kashmir as ‘Islamic Republic of Kashmir’ and it became a common sight in the entire valley.


Lakhs of Kashmiri Muslims planned to slaughter Hindus, but luckily they were saved by the army. They were left with no option but to just migrate and vanish to some other place as soon as possible they could. Hundreds of them travelled across India and settled in various cities such as New Delhi, Jammu and other cities where they could reside peacefully. According to various reports and interviews, almost over 300 Kashmiri Hindus were brutally murdered during 1989-1990 and even continued after 1990.


23 Kashmiri Pandits were killed in the Wandhama, Ganderbal district. Justice Neelkanth Ganjoo, the telecom engineer Balakrishnan Ganjoo, director of Doordarshan -Lassa Kaul, and one of the political leaders Tikalal Taploo were also brutally murdered. No police official lodged and FIR against all these murders. Many Hindu houses were set alight and were also robbed.


According to the reports of local organization of pundits in Kashmir and Kashmir pandit sangharsh samiti that had conducted a survey in 2008 and 2009, almost 399 kashmiri pundits were slaughtered by insurgents from 1990 to 2011 and with 75 percent of them being killed during the initial stage of kashmiri insurgency.


This topic has always been wrapped up by the sections that never wanted the world to see the plight of Kashmiri Pandits.

Even till date, if a Kashmiri Pandit visits the valley for worshipping the goddess Sharika on the occasion of Ashtami, they are labeled as tourists’, and it makes the heart bleed to see that this community, despite being well educated and talented, aren’t even recognized as the natives of their own homeland, a place which once belonged to them is now alien.


A place where they lived the majority of their lives, played under the Chinar trees, where life used to blossom under the delicate saffron petals, where relations were woven along with the threads of Pashmina got converted into a deserted bloody land for them.


Kashmir lost its Kashmiriyat when people picked guns and brutally murdered humanity.

Visiting the Shankryacharya temple, drinking the traditional ‘sheer chai’ or the salted pink tea under their wooden carved roofs remains a dream to all the Kashmiri Pandits now.


Ending this article with a quote by the divine Kashmiri poetess ‘LAL DED’, I wish that this article voices the community strongly and correctly, in the hope that sooner or later, the refugees will once be home, forever.

“I might scatter the southern clouds,

Drain the sea, or cure someone hopelessly ill,

But to change the mind of a fool is beyond me”

Hopeful that the eternal refugees will break the shackles of ‘eternity’… Are home in peace…

In Kashmir.