Zuv' chumm' bramhaan'
Ghar' gachaa

Jan 18, 2012

KP Holocaust Day!!! 19th January...

...the KP Holocaust Day!!!

Even 22 years from that catastrophic night of 19th January 1990, I can not forget the weird eerie soul churning howl and chill of that night in Kashmir. And yet, even 19 years later Kashmir is as close and ingrained in our souls – as it was that day.
This will be one long post… much like the 20 long dark years my community has spent in a forced exile. As I sit here thinking of that night - a chill still runs down my spine.

The Past…
Kashmiriyat – if anything like that existed had been eroded and molested by the majority in the valley leading to total subjugation of the minority Pandits. Pandits were held to blame for everything – be it excess snowfall or failed crops – because centre/India was to be blamed for it and Pandits were Indians at heart. Everything was a ‘center ki chaal’ and what could be easier than hapless Pandits to blame… Pandits had just borne in 1986 the brunt of the muslim ire – when Dogra’s in Jammu resisted their attempt at installing a mosque inside the government secretariat in Jammu. The wounds of wrath and rampage unleashed on innocent Pandits in Anantnag, Wuyan, Wanpoh, Pulwama, Sopore, Badgam, Baramula in Feb 1986 were still fresh in 1989. The list of temples destroyed in that carnage against the Pandits will never be completely known…just a partial list can be found here. The deaths, rapes and forced conversion in that government supported wave of madness was intolerable for many Kashmiri Pandits.
Scarred by decades of abuse by the majority – Pandits witnessed a mini exodus from Anantnag district in 1986 – when scores of Pandit families left the valley – totally disgusted with their life as a Hindu minority in what was supposedly a Hindu India. Living as a minority in an Islamic shadow is not easy. This was the sixth recorded exodus of Hindus from in recent past – the 12th overall.

The Build up…
Pakistan’s General Zia has been sulking and hurting after his failure in getting quick success with the Khalistan movement – and had been working on opening additional fronts against India – to keep alive the Pakistani national philosophy of a 1000-year war with India; a theory openly propounded ironically by his predecessor whom he got overthrown and killed. Irrespective of their political or social leanings, the Pakistani government and ISI have always had the same agenda against India – so change of rulers never really changed a policy. The 1000 year war Pakistan was waging was still on and General Zia only added another dimension to it with his Operation Topac – a covert Jihadi invasion of Kashmir.
And even the victims of this war admire the cunning perfection with which Pakistan managed to achieve it – while the Indian intelligence and political class was caught napping. Grapevine had it that Rajiv Gandhi, dogged by the Bofors controversy, had deployed IB to determine his chances of victory in a poll – rather than bother about what the cross border terror groups were planning.
ISI couldn’t have got it easier – they already had numerous terrorist training camps running for Khalistan insurgency and for the Afghan operations – they had little to do to get Kashmiri’s trained in handling Kalashnikovs, AK47s, grenades, IEDs, rocket launchers- words which sprang up in the Kashmiri lexicon suddenly in 1989 and became better known than “A for apple” to even the kids on the street. They got easy recruits – snaring the loosing MUF candidates (a political front for the Pakistan aided Jamat-e-Islami) and workers of the 1987 election. Even today it’s a hilarious reading when a Syed Salahudin – who was one of the loser’s in that election says that the rigging of those elections by National Conference (Farooq Abdullah’s party) in coalition with Congress(I) (led by Rajiv Gandhi) was the reason they got disillusioned and took to the gun. Was this the first election in the valley? No. Was this the first election which got (if it) rigged in the sub-continent? No. Was this the first time NC came to power? No. Was this the first time Farooq Abdullah became the Chief Minister? No. Was this the first time Sheikh Abdullah’s family – the same Sheikh whom Kashmiri Muslims were hailing as “Sher-i-Kashmir” just a few months ago – was ruling the state? No. Was this the first time a Jamat-e-Islami backed political formation was defeated? No. Then why the lame excuse…
If a failed or rigged election were to be the sole cause, then UP and Bihar would have been independent countries since 1947. This excuse is the just as lame as the other one – often used by Farooq Abdullah and other people when in power in the state, to get bigger and bigger doles from New Delhi; that Kashmiri’s are turning to terrorism because they are impoverished and unemployed – hence alienated. Dear – if Kashmiris are impoverished, then Kalahandi and Bastar don’t even exist on earth. If unemployment and economic backwardness is justification of a jehad – then the migrant Bihari and Oriya labourers – so omnipresent in all corners of India – should have been the most ferocious terrorists of the world.

Extremist Islamic wave…
A large mass of red-white chequered headscarf wearing mullah’s had invaded Kashmir in 1986-1988 already – Pandits only realized the plot later. These mullahs’ were non-Kashmiri’s and apparently came from a particular group of theological schools in UP – with a directive to ensure ingraining the extremist and intolerant version of Islam among Kashmiris…something alluded to by Salman Rushdie as well here.
And Oh boy!!! What a splendid job they did. Suddenly in 1988, the locals started speaking a different language altogether. Kafir, jihad, unIslamic – such terms became known prominently. I still remember the day at a century old premier Christian missionary run school in Srinagar – which had a green neck-tie as part of its uniform. A brigade of brainwashed senior students backed by some muslim teachers and armed with razors went around slashing these green tie’s from necks of students – just because ‘wearing a green tie was un-Islamic’ (Green being the colour of Islam). Students had started coming armed with special dresses on Friday – for Friday prayers and school practically didn’t run after lunch. The situation in offices was worse. Such weird flavour of Islam was showing up in the valley… growing in strength slowly in the mosques around the valley. The earlier rise and popularity of a fundamentalist political group “Muslim United Front” or MUF, was inline with this trend. Many of the loosing candidates from this group ended up in terror training camps in Pakistan later – becoming the early batch of terror proponents later like Syed Salaha-ud-Din, Javid Mir, Hamid Sheikh, Yasin Malik, Bitta Karate, Shabir Shah etc. Mercenary retirees from Afghan war and the Islamic insurgencies around Bosnia, Africa etc joined them later.

Aura of 1989
1989 – was the watershed year of sorts. For the valley and the world at large…
In China and in Europe, there was political upheaval marked by the end of Communism – and country after country the communist regimes were being overthrown. Anyone who saw television in that period was swamped with images of hundreds of thousands of people gathering in the streets and squares around Europe and winning a surprise victory over the regime… be it in Romania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria… The Berlin wall suddenly fell down in one huge massive push of sudden human revolt… the big and mighty USSR (deemed to be the strongest ally of India) was breaking into pieces, many of them becoming Islamic states. The other big entity in the game – China had been challenged by the might of the student movement as well – yet, Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 apart – the regime in China managed to come out unshaken.
ISI and their honcho’s in Kashmir – JKLF, Hizbul Mujahidin et al, had whipped up a feeling all over Kashmir that these were just the right signs. It was just the right time for freedom and Islamic rule in Kashmir as well. Just one big push was all that was needed for a “Nizam E Mustafa” and the rule of Koran to arrive in Kashmir. And as a build up towards the big push, the infidels/kafirs were to be exterminated. Pandits were the clearest target – since they were unlikely to join a movement aiming for Islamic rule (thereby ask for their own relegation to second class citizen status) and being Indians at heart, they wouldn’t support a demand for merger with Pakistan either. Hence, a wave of ethnic cleansing began.
Pandits were carefully selected out and killed in the most cold blooded fashion by the JKLF terrorists – Bitta Karatey alone owning up to a couple of dozen Pandit killings. Scores of Kashmiri Pandits – prominent or unknown – were killed all over the valley – just merely by branding them informers or traitors. And no one questioned them – not even those who today swear by Kashmiriyat; because this was all part of the operation towards the goal of Nizam-e-Mustafa. Teachers, poets, scholars, leaders, lawyers, nurses, peons, officers, shopkeepers – irrespective of logic were gunned down from close range – just because they were Hindus.
Terror groups resorted to publishing lists of people they intended to kill – called “hit-lists” in local Urdu dailies. A scan through the 1989-90 archives of ‘Aftab’, “Al Safa” and other local dailies would give an idea of how dogmatic the environment was. Posters erupted around the downtown asking Pandits to “raliv, chaliv ya galiv” – (join the movement, leave Kashmir or get killed). A minority which counts up to less than 5% share of the population had little hope of a fight. Honour and self-respect of the Pandits wouldn’t let us join the so-called movement – unless one was willing to convert to Islam. Otherwise why would a Pandit ask for Islamic rule – which in itself meant a wretched life Hindus faced in Pakistan or under Taliban. Slowly now, they were getting killed – and yet, there was no sign of any government intervention in 1989.
Ending 1989: At the end of 1989, an interesting turn of political events was also unfolding in the rest of India. Congress and Rajiv Gandhi lost elections – and a fragile coalition came to power. And this group wanted to prove its pseudo secular credentials to the Muslims of India…so a Kashmiri Muslim who till then had never held any position of authority in his own state was given the most important position in the central cabinet – Mufti Sayed became the Home Minister of India. His real cunning Islamic fundamentalist leanings were already known to the Kashmiri’s… he had been an active leader of the carnage against Pandits in 1986. Kashmiri’s felt they had broken into the bastion – their man was even in the control room now. His anti-Pandit politics came to fore again when he returned as the CM.
And the drama that followed was the right culmination 1989 needed. Abduction of Home minister’s daughter Rubiya Syed was staged and a weak centre yielded by releasing dreaded terrorists like Hamid Sheikh and Yasin Malik amongst others…
A mass frenzy of celebrations followed in the valley – with the released terrorists being openly carried around in the downtown in processions. Law and order were like a polar bear in Sahara - dead. A victory of sorts was declared. This was just a small test push yet – and it turned out so easy – just the way ISI and their honcho’s had been telling them…
A battle was won. The war couldn’t be difficult. The tone and behaviour of the common man on street suddenly changed – my friends were suddenly talking of Azadi and Islamic rule, the language was full of technical terms around guns and war. They suddenly knew how many rounds a AK47 could fire, how many bullets a magazine had, what response times a Kalashnikov was like. By now, surprise guerilla attacks, cross fires, grenade or bomb attacks in city, shootouts at government offices or army camps were common place and daily happenings. By now the kids could tell the sound of a Kalashnikov fire from the AK47, and predict the distance at which IED or a grenade attack must have happened from just the sound of it. Black-outs and bandhs were common events. Schools and colleges stayed more closed than open. Daring to switch on a light during a blackout promptly invited a shower of stones. There were few Pandit homes without shattered glass panes by end of 1989. We stopped replacing the broken ones after sometime, and instead got wire mesh installed on the out side of the windows. Examinations were getting disrupted… normal life was in chaos. Yet, government was asleep.
Jihad was in the air… merger with the wider Pan-Islamic world was just a few steps away. Veils and burkha’s suddenly became predominant common sight– in an otherwise fashion aware society. Hindu’s were getting marked out and standing apart. The belief that Pakistan would launch an offensive at the LOC and invade was overwhelming them, as well.
All this had left Pandits totally confused, clueless of the nefarious activities happening in covert and scared. I still remember the fear and chill the re-broadcast of serials like “Tamas” or news of riots in Bhagalpur on television would send among the Pandits – feeling like hapless pigeons in a cage full of cats. Most had no clue what was to befall them – just because they were Hindu and Indians at heart. Somewhere there was a hope that this was just a passing frenzy and things would be calm soon.

Events leading to that night…
January 1990… the political chaos all over Europe was still in its motions. After Rubiya Syed debacle, the government in New Delhi had proved how weak kneed it was to terrorism – giving birth to an image of India as a soft state – an weakness which Pakistan exploited right through IC814 hijack, Kargil war or attack on Parliament. At the state level, Farooq Abdullah was loosing control – he barely had any, given that he was away in UK taking care of his business and in-laws 3/4th of his time. His political ally - Congress had been routed in the elections and Rajiv Gandhi was at his weakest ever. Farooq was seeing his chair rock each day – and knew he would be one of the recipients of the push – given that ISI and their honcho’s had whipped enough hatred against Sheikh Abdullah and his kith already – holding them to blame for the accession that they wanted to reverse.
Rumour mills were churning out weird stories each day. One night, it was a mass hysteria in Srinagar – when some mosques blared out warnings that they must immediately collect and horde as much drinking water as possible – because Indian government had ordered annihilation of all Kashmiri’s by poisoning of the water supply system. Preposterous and illogical that this may sound – the whole city was busy filling up water in even in the smallest cup and bowl in the house. Yeah!!! Pandits included… after all it was the same tap water everywhere. But did anyone question who caused this frenzy and spread this insane rumour – one dare not question.
Broadcasts from Radio-POK (what they call Azad Kashmir Radio) were interesting – there used to be more religious fervour and war-songs than news. And locals were hooked. Even Pandits regularly tuned in to know how worse it could get…
“Jago jago subaho hui, Khoon-e-shaheeda rang layaa, fateh ka parcham lehraya, jaago jaago subah hui…”
- a war song sung by non-Kashmiri singers of Muzaffarabad was one of the many war songs on air all the time. Soon these were also being played in mosques in the valley over mega-phones to incite passion for jihad. News reports from POK radio were the most hilarious though – one day you would be told that a 1000 Indian soldiers were buried alive by the valiant Islamic mujahideen, or that Srinagar was being readied for a JKLF to take the oath of power, or that Pakistani backed terrorists had captured the radio and TV centers (something seen in European revolutions through 1989) or that JKLF and Hizb were just about to march onto Delhi. Rhetoric like, people of Pakistan will offer next Friday prayer in Id Gah in Srinagar and the week after that in Jama Masjid in Delhi was common speech on those waves. And the masses were lapping it up in Kashmir… stepping deeper into a mass hysteria.
The presence of security forces was still far and few. One could see only 2-3 pickets yet – around Residency road and Lal Chowk areas, and guarding Secretariat and few other important government landmarks. Otherwise, the security presence in downtown or the civil lines was absent. Few sensitive areas like Maisuma, Gawkadal and areas in downtown had witnessed clashes and guerilla attacks on the pickets CRPF tried to set up.
The lack of law and order was getting questioned and there was clear evidence that Farooq was not interested or capable of controlling the situation. How could he anyway, given that he barely was present in the country. New Delhi wanted to soothe the emotions of the people of valley – and decided to recall Jagmohan Malhotra as the governor of J&K.
Despite what Kashmiri Muslims today say about Jagmohan – anyone true to his soul who lived in Kashmir during his earlier tenure would not be able to deny that his period of Governor’s rule in the state was the best time ever people had seen – from an administrative point of view. Jagmohan had run the state till just sometime back when the GM Shah government died after the 1986 carnages. People, Kashmiri muslims worth their pinch of salt would vouch for this – locals regarded it the best run government they had ever seen. There was amazing infrastructural development in such quick time, government machinery ran like clockwork, officials were on their toes, he himself would meet public every day and address issues directly, he had reached out to more people than all other politicians earlier. And he wasn’t even a politician then. He was a governor – an able administrator. When he got the state back to a time for elections – people were openly asking if there could be a way for Jagmohan to become the Chief Minister. Those Kashmiri’s who disbelieve this today, go and ask your father to tell you what it was like. (Of course, he couldn’t contest election or become Chief Minister – because of Article 370). Even Farooq Abdullah famously requested him for his guidance, rebuke and direction if he were to go wrong, admiring the way he had run the state – and cashing in on the admiration people had for him.
The central government probably thought that Jagmohan’s popularity with the masses and his reputation would help soothe the hysteria in the valley and things would settle down. But Farooq got alarmed – he knew his inefficiency would get exposed now. In Delhi, Rajiv was playing the usual sick minded opposition – he had to oppose appointment. Farooq and Rajiv – allies in politics at this time –were hoping that VP Singh would invoke Article 365 and dismiss his government. But they didn’t dismiss the Farooq government, only sent in a new Governor. Farooq decided to use this as an honorable exit. Farooq raised a hue and cry over why Jagmohan was being sent back to the state as a Governor without his permission and sent in his resignation and dissolution of the assembly as a protest. Hands washed off!!! He announced his decision to quit the afternoon of January 19th 1990 – when Jagmohan was still in Delhi and yet to take charge of his gubernatorial duties. The state was headless for a while…till Jagmohan arrived later on 20th-21st and took charge. But in between – the night of 19th January was a night of horror…and a night which changed a lot of things in the valley.

That night…19th January 1990
Farooq’s decision to quit had left the state in confusion… His party cadre’s were restless and chaotic. The ISI’ honchos were alarmed. They feared Jagmohan’s return would send the people back many steps – he being the efficient administrator people had already known him to be and his goodwill with the masses. The mosques all over the valley became hyper active that night. Suddenly there were slogans and frenzied songs blaring from all mosques in the valley. Rumours of an Arab political delegation being in Srinagar to take a look at the situation was around. It was made believe that if the voice of dissent was made known to the Arab delegation – they would do wonders (don’t know how). But no one knew what/where this so-called delegation was. So simultaneous religious propaganda, sloganeering and anti-India chants ranted through the valley all night – blaring aloud from the loud-speakers of mosque; loud-speakers which are meant otherwise for getting the call prayers heard. Slogans like
“Islam khatre’ mein hai” (Islam is in danger),
“Aes gacche’ Pakistan, Batav ros’ te’ batnev saan” (we want Kashmir – without Pandit men, but with their womenfolk)
“Mujahid’on aage bhado” (Warriors of allah – move ahead)
“Yahan kya chalega – Nizam E Mustafa” (What will rule Kashmir – Rule of Allah)
"Kashmir mein agar rehna hai, Allah-o-Akbar kehna hai" (Only those who believe in Allah -(only Muslims) can live in Kashmir)
“Hum kya chahte, Azadi” (we want freedom)
“La ilah Illalah – Pakistan banega Insalaah” (Praise to God! Kashmir will be Pakistan)
“Indian dogs – get out”
“Battav ya raliv, chaliv nate’ galiv” (O Pandits – either join us, flee or die)
…and many more.
It was a night of chaos and madness. The scary environment those eerie slogans echoing from frentic mobs created throughout the night can not be explained - one had to live that trauma to know it. Pandits were taken by shock by this sudden event – given that they had no clue on why and what was happening and neither did they know what rumours and discussions were on inside the mosques – till much later. Pandits, particularly those in the Jamat-e-Islami stronghold areas of downtown were shrunken by fear, like the animals sunken in their holes when a pack of tigers is on prowl. The sound of loudspeaker sloganeering was the most scary one – each household too scared to even switch on their lights.
Around before mid-night, groups of people started streaming through the lanes and bylanes, streets and nooks of the city – marching towards the Lal Chowk area – shouting usual slogans. At several places, the mosques ordered Hindu’s to move out of their homes and join the march as well. They were planning to assemble in Lal Chowk in large numbers – maybe a crowd of 200,000 to 300,000 people and then attack and capture the AIR Radio station and Doordarshan – much like the revolutions in Europe they had been watching over TV through 1989…and thus declare independence. They believed Pakistan would be launching an offensive immediately and permanence of the situation would be sealed. The crowds in such large numbers – reportedly more than 50,000 people gathered in the city centre and attacked the few police pickets and CRPF booths erected there. There were armed terrorists in the crowds firing celebration shots in the air. A shootout was launched on security personnel in Lal chowk and Gawkadal – and no wonder when there is a crowd of thousands; quite a few lives were lost. Thankfully the crowds got dispersed sometime in the night.

There was no chance of recovery thereon.
The ISI honcho’s – disappointed with the failure of the human wave in achieving the ‘one push’ were left directionless. Jagmohan was in city next day and went on television appealing to the general masses to use common sense and restrain. I remember his words like “I have not come here to govern or rule, I have come here to work as a nursing orderly to serve you, to help heal the wounds you have and be your servant”… In the days that followed Jagmohan in his usual way went about meeting people in open darbars in the valley – even though the secretariat was in Jammu. Hundreds of muslims were turning up to meet him with petitions and requests for solving their issues – given that they knew this was one man who knew what a common man’s problem were and knew how to govern.

And the Exodus…
ISI and their honchos were in a panic – they went about increasing their attacks on Pandits and published more hit-lists, killing Pandits all over the valley everyday. Muslim neighbours came to us requesting us to leave the valley till was safe to come back, since they felt they would not be able to protect even close friends and neighbours –were an armed group of terrorists to show up at their neighbours doorstep. Posters threatening Pandits of dire consequences and directing them to leave the valley were showing up on doors and outside temples. Pandits were in a shocked state – frustrated that the government was unable to stop their massacre. Pandits had no option but to leave the valley – all believing temporarily – for safer areas. Most Pandits left their homes set, stocked and ready – expecting to return just a few weeks later once things were calmer – not knowing the return was not likely for decades. Pandits left in trucks, buses, tempo’s whatever means they could find…from villages and nooks of the valley – towards Jammu. Jammu started witnessing a sudden influx of Pandits which it was not ready for. Being winter, the city was already overburdened with the durbar-move population. A sudden influx of thousands of Kashmiri refugees was not something this much smaller city could stand up to. Thousands of Pandits lived in dharamsalaa’s, halls, abandoned buildings, temples, stadiums, retiring rooms of bus stands for weeks. It was turning into a humanitarian problem of another kind for Jagmohan now – given that resentment was brewing in Jammu as well. He set up tented refugee camps for Pandits outside the city of Jammu – to avoid this situation – refugee camps which were to become permanent homes for thousands even till today.

Pakdo padko - Jagmohan ko pakdo…
ISI and their honcho’s saw this as a good opportunity to discredit Jagmohan’s efforts in the valley. Had they not done it quickly enough, the mass connect Jagmohan was re-establishing with Muslims would have killed their efforts totally. Word was spread that Jagmohan had ordered the firing at the crowds in Lal Chowk and Gaw Kadal on 19th Jan night – little logic was used to understand that he was not the governor at that moment. It was officers of Farooq’s regime who were still officiating. Rumours were spread in the valley that Jagmohan has gone to Pandits and asked them to leave the valley – so that he could conduct massive military operations killing all muslims, and they could return once they operation was over. This canard was repeated daily over and over again… and as they say, repeat a lie a thousand times and many believe it’s a truth. That’s the truth a Kashmiri muslim believes today.
Few used their logic – there existed no Pandit leadership at that time (not even now) – where Jagmohan could have conveyed this message to. Did Jagmohan go around visiting Pandit homes – telling them this secret plan. Pandits were spread few and far in between all over the valley. Was it Jagmohan who was pasting those posters at our doorsteps in the night? Was it Jagmohan who killed poets, teachers, social workers, nurses selectively? Did he go around branding Pandits as traitors and informers, and writing up those hit-lists? Did he know Kashmiri language enough to coin and shout those slogans – “raliv chaliv ya galiv”, “Aes gacche’ Kasheer, Batav ros’ te’ batnev saan”. Did Jagmohan go around shooting down Tikka Lal Taploo, Pt. Sarwanand Premi or Lassa Koul or the hundreds of other Pandits… did he go around stoning Pandit homes…? Did he go around gouging the eyes from Premi's dead body and cutting body of other victims on a bandsaw mill? Was Bitta Karatey trained and sent by Jagmohan?
If he really told Pandits to leave – I have a big grudge against him for not coming to my home and telling this to my family.
Rumour mongering is a strong Kashmiri trait – and this is the longest and strongest one ever. Ask a kid in valley today who Pandits are – a kid born in late 80’s or early 90’s… someone who has not seen or known a Pandit or doesn’t know what happened then – and you are likely to hear an answer like “Pandits are kafirs/infidels – informers and enemy of muslims who were taken out of Kashmir by Jagmohan”. Yeah… and Islam is the longest living religion…in existence since pre-human era.
Another interesting fact of late January 1990. We lived in the civil lines area of Jawahar Nagar (now renamed to something like Islampur or so), and happened to have 4-5 sikh families in our close neighbourhood. When family was in dilemma about the exodus – they would come to consult and confer on what to do as well. We seldom talked this to other Pandits – as much as to them. Yet suddenly one day this stopped. Turns out that Simaranjit Singh Mann had arrived in the valley – and met with the Jamat-e-Islami leadership and other ISI backed groups. Khalistani terrorists were afterall of same parentage. Mann had clearly threatened to retaliate against Muslims in other parts of India – and choke their supply lines via Punjab if even one Sikh was touched. Luckily for them, they had not killed any Sikhs either so far - ISI wouldn’t have let them either. Sikh community controlled the trucking business as well in the valley – something which was the economic life line of the massive horticulture and handicraft industry in the valley. Mann was able to broke security for the Sikh’s in the valley – but Pandits were parentless refugee’s…
Sea of Souls in Exile
Without a God-father in the otherwise 80% hindu India – Pandits got condemned to a life in Exile, becoming refugee’s in their own country. Refugees whom the government too refuses to acknowledge and accept – and hence they labeled Pandits as “Kashmiri Migrants”. Migrants – what does that mean? Pandits were not habitual travelers nor nomads by custom, nor were we a specie of seasonal migratory birds.
In hindsight, Pandits did have a hope that the Hindu’s of India would raise a voice for them. A mistaken belief no doubt…
Pandits – were just one thing – 700,000 unwanted Hindu’s in a supposedly Hindu country…refugee’s in their own land. Exiles’ from their own homeland. Aboriginals evicted from their roots…

Ami pana so'dras nAvi ches lamAn
Kati bozi Day myon meyti diyi tAr
Ameyn tAkeyn poniy zan shemAn
Zuv chum bramAn gara gatshaha.
-Lal Ded (14th century Kashmiri Saint and Poetess)
With a rope of loose-spun thread am I towing
my boat upon the sea.
Would that God heard my prayer
and brought me safe across!
Like water in cups of unbaked clay
I run to waste.
Would God I were to reach my home!


indscribe said...

Given the magnitude of this tragedy and exodus, I can't even dare to commiserate but the good thing is that you are expressing it and telling a lot of people who were not aware of the extent of loss.
I also request you that you should not just think that all Muslims are bad or jehadi and don't look at it from that perspective alone. Extraordinary situations and calamaties happen, a Muslim in Gujarat may have similar anger against Hindus or a victim of Neilly massacre where thousands of Muslims were killed. Even Hindi-speakers are killed by ULFA. I can only imagine how much the displacement has hurt you. But so many of us have grievances, personal and also collective.

Mai said...

This is truly heart-breaking. We all seem to have tragedies from that era.

Much of my own family was wiped out in the 'riots' in Delhi in 1984. India, unfortunately, has a record of not caring about or protecting her citzens. I hope that telling your story will bring you some internal peace; it seems the most any of us survivors can ask for. Anger and hatred will consume us alive if we let it.

Let us all pray that the day will come when we will all treat each other as the brothers and sisters, children of God, that we all are.


Anonymous said...

Dear Soul in Exile...

Being a KP victim of this holocaust myself - I could totally relate to each word in this post. Its a nightmare which refuses to end even 17years later.

I could place the incident of tie slashing - my nephew came back home shocked and shaken that day - it was at Tynadale Biscoe in heart of Srinagar.

God Bless.

Raj Koul

Sameer Bhagwat said...

The Khalistan movement is not a terrorist movement. Khalistanis are not terrorists. Khalistanis did not kill innocent civilians in fake encounters - Indian police did. Khalistanis did not attack a center of faith - Indian army did. Khalistanis did not rape women and arrest young boys under false pretense - Indian police did. Khalistanis did not sponsor riots and massacres in Delhi, 1984 - Indian Congress party did. After all, China calls the Falun Gong terrorists and some agencies label groups in order to eliminate their movement which threatens their power.

I know 100% that Khalistan is not a terrorist concept, but a human rights concept. It is a movement for the reunion of East and West Punjab, which was split in 1947 when India and Pakistan were created. In the separation, many thousands of people were killed and millions more suffered injuries, abuse, and obviously displacement. However, nobody suffered as much as the residents of Punjab (regardless of their religion). Punjab was split in two by greedy politicians (Gandhi, Nehru & Jinna) with unrighteous ambitions.

I think that the Khalistan movement is a righteous one, because it aims to restore equal rights to the residents of Punjab. Furthermore, the Sikh faith is a universal one and every day in their congregations they actually pray for the wellbeing of the entire universe. The Sikhs have historically fought for the goodwill of innocent people, the downtrodden, and victims of oppression like the Dalits and Tibetan monks. It was Sikhs who helped displaced Tibetan Buddhists with relocation to Dharamshala in Northern India. Sikhs, although they comprise only 2% of the Indian population, have historically served between 40 and 50% of the Indian army. But not only do they have martial traditions, but humanitarian, environmental, and egalitarian. Sikhs promote equal rights for all people regardless of their social class or caste, and work to abolish racism, sexism, and oppression.

The Khalsa was created as the "Army of God" in the sense of helping, protecting, serving, and inspiring all living beings. They do not try to convert others to Sikhism, nor do they discourage others from following their own faith. Instead, they denounce corruption and tyranny, and promote universal love and harmony. Given these core values and ideology, the support for Khalistan would be the least that India and Pakistan could do to repay the Sikhs for their contributions and sacrifices. They were massacred in 1984 by the government, but they have still not received justic for the crimes against them.

Just like Buddhists support Tibet, Jews support Jerusalem, and neither of these groups are labelled "Terrorist," the Sikhs should also be free to support and promote Khalistan, and not be labelled. Instead the world community should be brave enough to put pressure on their trading partners India and Pakistan to allow the Sikhs to be free from oppression and have political autonomy. They are not fighting for land, but for principal. And their principals are very righteous and something to learn from.

We should all support Khalistan as it is a beacon of hope for our world. One country which would allow Sikhs to have resources and authority to serve the world. Sikhs were sent to this world to love, serve, and inspire. To show the light of truth. To encourage people to follow their own faith with compassion, love, discipline, courage and grace. These values are admirable and part of the teachings of the Sikh scriptures. These values would be part of the core of the Sikh political agenda.

Nisar said...

Can you count how many pandits were killed from 1989 upto now.Which genocide of you talking about.We can't see a drop of yours on our streets.But my dear brother why are you hiding the genocide of 100,000 kashmiri muslims.Where from you gather these stories.I know the kind of pain you are feeling in self imposed exile.Tell me who forced you to lock your houses and run away.How many of you voiced help from Indian authorities to guard you against aggression if any.
But alas you answered the calls of Jagmohan.What were you thinkingat that time?That within few years you will get rid of the people calling them selves muslims in valley.But ALLAH destroyed Jagmohan's Evil designs.It bought shame to him and an Identity crisis to you guys.
These emotional post won't do any good to you.What is Truth is truth and Allah alone knows who drove you out and how many of you were killed in Kashmir you cacll genocide.Fear your create bcoz HE won't forgive lies man.

Meenakshi said...

I really wonder what the Indian govt was doing at that time. How could it allow all this to happen?

!!! said...


You have to understand - the mindset of the central govts is always about doing nothing - till it burns totally... whether it is 1990 or 2008.
Moreover, the govt in centre at that point (VP Singh) was an inexperienced shaky coalition far more concerned about its survival and wouldnt dare do any thing seen anti-minority... They were far more interested in being muslim appeasers at that point - and so made immense efforts to find a muslim Home Minister - and what a blunder when they appointed a hard-core terrorist sympathizer Mufti as the HomeMinister... Every one knows abt the drama that ensued...

workhard said...

When dramatic and dangerous incident like these take place, all that happens is the blame and finger pointings, barely few tears are shed for the martyrs and rest is just history on a piece of paper

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Nita said...

soul-in-exile, your post is moving and in fact it has left me with hardly any words to say. As indscribe said the tragedy is of such a great magnitude that it is difficult to commiserate.
However it is painful when there are some who want to deny the hurt and pain of the Kashmiri Pandits.

Anonymous said...

I am shocked at the strong hatred and total denial the Muslims of Kashmir live by.
They are the ones who pushed us out, they are the ones who are today facing the consequences. THEIR sons are kidnapped--not by Hindus, but by militants. They don't have access to proper education anymore--what with hartals and curfews being the rule of the day. I am sorry to say, Kashmir has gone into a degenerative downslide. 23 years since I left the Valley...today I just wish the Kashmiri Muslims would shut up--or get some sense and into their bigoted heads and see how they have been misled and misused. How can they cry over the Shopian case? Why not about the girl who was murdered by militants while on her way to a private tuiton? Have they forgotten how they raped our Kashmiri Pandit women in 89?????
As for the Sikn community--well, they betrayed us too.

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shrey said...

an attempt to speak up for Kashmiri Pandits.A love story: the story of Shivranjini Kak http://shreyvats.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/the-girl-who-loved-saffron/

Shrey said...

Just another story about a girl,her lover and how they were separated. A story which happened in Kashmir.A story that speaks of romance, separation,a pichful of hope and of a misfortunate community. http://bit.ly/5F6Vmt

Anand said...

"Can you count how many pandits were killed from 1989 upto now."

Apparently they don't teach logic or reading at the madrassa. According to official estimates, over 400,000 have been driven from the valley, a drop in population from 15% to 1% as of 2001. These are facts, cock-boy...facts. The Oregon Legislative Assembly declared 14th Sept, 2007 as Martyr's day in honor of NON-MUSLIMS to acknowledge the ethnic cleansing. Ride on that, bitch!

"Which genocide of you talking about. We can't see a drop of yours on our streets."

I don't find a shred of intellect in that statement. I guess to you, Pundit blood looks and behaves differently than the rest? Hooray to some well-thought out Muzzie logic.

"But my dear brother why are you hiding the genocide of 100,000 kashmiri muslims."

Awwww....I'm sure you can magnify that number by a factor of 10, can't you? Yep, stone throwers and terrorists get their come-uppance. YOU ARE TERRORISTS...comprende, dipshit?!! And I say GOOD RIDDANCE to these 100,000 camel-jockey wannabe's and their sorry-asses.

"Where from you gather these stories."

Via news agencies. But then, they don't teach reading at the madrassa, don't they?

"I know the kind of pain you are feeling in self imposed exile."

No you don't. You're a vile cretin that demands evidence of "drop of blood on the streets of Kashmir" and then plays the good cop. Sell your 'taqiyya' elsewhere, bitch.

"Tell me who forced you to lock your houses and run away."

Your ilk. Comprende, dipshit?!

"How many of you voiced help from Indian authorities to guard you against aggression if any."

Huh. You voice help TO someone, not FROM someone. I wonder which school you graduated from or who gave you a friggin' computer. It's like asking a certain 53 year old man to babysit a 9 year old...oops!

"But alas you answered the calls of Jagmohan. What were you thinking at that time?"

Riight. You got any facts against this man or are you going to throw some Muzzie-logic involving jinns, 72 virgins, milk and honey, and such related bullshit?

"That within few years you will get rid of the people calling them selves muslims in valley.But ALLAH destroyed Jagmohan's Evil designs.It bought shame to him and an Identity crisis to you guys.
These emotional post won't do any good to you.What is Truth is truth and Allah alone knows who drove you out and how many of you were killed in Kashmir you cacll genocide.Fear your create bcoz HE won't forgive lies man."

What one needs to fear is the truth about your atrocious sentence construction and spelling. And you Muzzies wonder why you don't get jobs? Seriously, what does Kashmir offer to the rest of India economically? Who the fuck wants your kahwa, roghan josh, apples, and chilkozas? You are nothing but a bunch of social-security sapping, back-stabbing louts, who are ethically corrupt religious fuck-nuts. You lack enterprise to set up industry and bail for subsistence from the same hands you stab. So, yeah, why should I sympathize with you ingrates. The more of you that go under the blade, the less the earth suffers under you and your offspring.

So yeah, I've said thus...even though it's 2 years later than your post. So, if you have a response, let's see it. Or if you'd like to settle things the 'ole' fashioned way', you can always come down to the intersection of Fitzhugh and Cole Avenue in Dallas, TX. Maybe you'll get to feel what a Ezekiel choke feels like.

Cheers, dipshit!

aman said...

dear sir,your article is great and i am moved.their are many emotions and as a hindu who knows the history more than common indians,i would state my total condemnation to what pandits have had to go through in kashyap rishi's hindu abode since not only 1989-1990,but since 12th-13th century ad after muslim invasions and tyrrany.we will unite and get back you and other hindus in kashmir valley soon.

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