Now, that the government has revoked Article 370 and Article 35A in Jammu and Kashmir, it is time it took concrete steps to relocate Kashmiri Pandits to the valley and encourage people from all over India to acquire property and invest in Kashmir.

By Prathima.G.Kulkarni

January 19th 1990, is considered to be one of the most gruesome and spine-chilling day in the history of India after the Independence.

Before January 19th 1990, the people in the valley lived peacefully, having a healthy and harmonious relationship with their neighbors, irrespective of whether they were Hindus, Sikhs or Muslims. They used to go visit one another, their children used to play with oneanother and they used to celebrate festivals together. All was good. Yet, there was something unimaginable that was about to happen which would totally change the way Kashmiris led their lives, especially the Hindu Pandit families. This bonhomie did not last long as the worst nightmare was about to come to reality.

“Aesgacche Pakistan batavros’te’ batnevsaan” We want Kashmir without pandit men but with pandit women

“ Battavyaraliv, chalivnate’ galiv” Pandits either join us/convert, leave or die.

“YahanKyaChalega? Nizam E Mustafa” What will rule Kashmir? Rule of ALLAH.

“Kashmir meinagar rehnahai, Allah-hu-Akbar kahnaHai.” Only those who believe in Allah can live in Kashmir.

“La IlahIllalah Kashmir Pakistan BanegaInsalaah” Praise to God! Kashmir will become Pakistan

“Pakistan se rishtakya? La IlahIllalah” Our relation with Pakistan, Islam!

Imagine if you are a non Muslim and you wake up one day to hear announcements like these made from loud speakers from the mosque near you. How would you feel when your are being threatened by the same people you lived with peacefully for many years?  This is exactly what the Hindu Pandits of Kashmir went through. How could someone ask them to leave their home land? Is not that the place where their ancestors lived?  Is it not the place where they were born? In our culture, women are regarded highly and respected. But in Kashmir, the Muslims wanted to keep our women and the men to flee or convert. A Hindu nurse was gang raped and beaten to death.

On Jan, 04, 1990, a local Urdu newspaper, Aftab, published a press release issued by Hizb-ul-Mujahedeen, asking all Hindu Pandits to leave the valley immediately. Al Safa, another local daily repeated the warning.Kalashnikov (AK-47) -wielding masked Jehadis carrying out military-type marches openly and putting fear into the Hindus followed these warnings. Reports of killing of Kashmiri Pandits continued to pour in. Bomb explosions and sporadic firing by militants became a daily occurrence.

Letters were distributed which said, ‘We order Hindu pandits to leave Kashmir immediately, otherwise your children will be harmed- we are not scaring you but this land is only for Muslims, and is the land of Allah. Sikhs and Hindus cannot stay here’. The letter ended with a warning, ‘If you do not obey, we will start killing your children. Kashmir Liberation, Zindabad”.  These threats were carried out promptly to prove that  they meant business. M. L. Bhan of Khonmoh, Srinagar, a government employee, was killed on Jan 15, 1990. Baldev Raj Dutta, an operator in Lalchowk, Srinagar, was kidnapped on the same day. His dead body was found four days later, on Jan 19, 1990, at NaiSarak, Srinagar.The body bore marks of brutal torture which clearly sent a message as to what had happened.

More than one thousand Hindus were killed at their houses and on the roads in public view. This was done to put fear into the hearts of pandits to either make them leave the valley or to get them converted to Islam. After the night of January 19th 1990, four lakh Hindus left Kashmir and became refugees in their own country. No one came to their assistance, neither the government nor the army. They were left helpless and were made to feel unwanted by all.

It is now thirty years after the incident. Justicestill awaits the KashmiriPandits. This has not stopped them from being valuable and productive citizens of India. We can find them in almost every sphere. Suresh Raina, AnupamKher, KailashKher etc, all are the once who migrated out of Kashmir to escape Muslim hegemony. A slight ray of hope was seen when Article 370 and 35A were revoked. It is high time that our government took action to resettle Kashmiri Pandits back in their homeland. The government should also change the demography of the area by allowing people from other religions to acquire land and establishing enterprises in Kashmir.