Justice For Kashmiri Pandits & Helping Them To Get Back Their Home
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As We Know Kashmir Is A Beautiful Place And It's Like Heaven, But We Can't Forget About Two Things, First Thing Is About Kashmiri Pandits And Second Thing Is Exodus Of Kashmiri Hindu Pandits, Which Our Political Parties And Media And Even Supreme Court Don't Want To Open The Chapter.
Large Majority Kashmiri Pundits Were Forced To Flee Kashmir Valley In The Cold & Dark Night Of January 19, 1990 As A Result Of Islamic Terrorism. Screaming From Loud Speakers And Crowded Streets Was A Message For The Sikhs And Hindus Living In Kashmir.
Already the diktat of militants ran in vast swathes of Kashmir valley. Strange diktats started appearing on the walls. Everything Indian was the new untouchable. Terrorists would put out hit lists of people to be killed for being pro-India.
Prominent Kashmiri Pundits were already being targeted and killed. BJP leader and prominent social activist Tika Lal Taploo was killed in broad day light in down town Sringar. Justice Nilakanth Ganjoo was gunned down and it took hours for his body to be picked up from the road. Advocate Prem Nath Bhat was brutally killed in Anantnag area of South Kashmir. Many more not so well known were killed. The message was loud and clear. Kashmiri Pandits were targets and no one could save them. It seemed nobody cared about whether they lived, died or perished. It still wasn’t January, 1990. But Kashmiri Pandits hoped against hope that the powerful Indian nation would come to their rescue. They stayed put in the only place they knew as home.
On January 4, 1990, Aftab published a press release of Hizbul Mujahideen asking all Hindus to leave. Another newspaper Al-Safa published the same press release. Soon notices to leave were pasted on the doors of Pandits.
Yet all that happened so far would now pale into insignificance compared to what was to happen on the fateful night of January 19, 1990. It wasn’t as if one gali or one mohalla or one road was to erupt in a forceful orgy to scare and drive away Pandits.
As the darkness of the night overtook the feeble sunlight of the day the forces of evil had taken over entire Kashmir. From the bylanes of downtown Habbakadal to the nooks and corners of Rainawari, from the apple towns of Sopore and Shopian, from the bustling upscale Srinagar to sleepy hamlets of Kupwara and Handwara, there was just one cry – ‘Drive away Pandits’.
Thousands of adrenalin pumped Kashmiris, marched into the streets of the Valley shouting slogans never heard before. Mosques all over Kashmir blared out loud that Kashmir was to become Pakistan. Songs eulogising the Mujahideen were played over and over again: Jago Jago Subah Huyee; Rus ne Baazi Haari Hain, Hind par larzaan tare hain, Ab Kashmir ki baaree hain (Wake up, Russia has fallen and India eyes defeat, It is the turn of Kashmir to be freed.).
This song was played for a long duration, many times over and as soon as it ended, it gave way to sloganeering of a different kind, the kind that did not just target the establishment of India, but one which targeted the Pandits directly. The slogans that were now filling the air left them in no doubt that they were about to be defiled or killed.
Hum Kya Chahte Azadi… (We want freedom)
Azzadi Ka Matlab Kya, La Illah Il lallah (Freedom means La Illah Il Laalh)
Agar Kashmir Main Rehna Hoga, Allah-u-Akbar Kehna Hoga (If you want to live in Kashmir, you have to say Allah-u-Akbar)
Ae Zalimo Ae Kafiro, Kashmir Hamara (Chod Do Oh Cruel people, you the Kafirs, Leave our Kashmir)
Yahan kya Chalega Nizam-e-Mustafa...
The rule of the Prophet will reign here... was still resounding in our ears when we started hearing: ‘We want Kashmir to become Pakistan without Pandit men but with their women.’ It was this last slogan that terrified Kashmiri Pandits more than the fear of imminent death. Most families hid their womenfolk in attics or store rooms and gave them clear instructions to kill them just in case the crowd barged in. This was the night of doom and gloom, one that refused to end. The darkness hid faces of people who were their friends and neighbours, classmates and teammates, ones they had grown up with, yet they were baying for their blood or wanting to rape their daughters and sisters.
The message was loud and clear. Raliv Galiv ya Chaliv - Join us, Die or Flee.
There wasn’t one village, one street, one locality, one society where these slogans weren’t shouted. The pre-planned and well orchestrated mobs that had descended on the streets of Kashmir left no one in doubt about the fate that awaited Kashmiri Pandits. As usual the administration or police was nowhere to be seen or heard of. It was an era when there was no social media and no mobile phones, and telephone density in Kashmir was next to nil. The unthinkable was to be done. Most Kashmiri Pandits started packing whatever little they could under the given circumstances and started fleeing to save their honour and lives. People fled in whatever they could. They hid under canvas covers of trucks, left in buses, hired taxis. The exodus had started. The government, intelligentsia, the seculars, the conscience keepers of this nation - all had gone to sleep. No one even talked about it.
The days that followed the night of January 19, 1990 saw Kashmiri Pandits being killed in scores every day. Atrocities against KPs had become the order of the day. From Budgam to Brijbehara, from Kupwara to Kanikadal there was hardly a day when Kashmiri Pandits weren’t been killed. Most brutal forms of torture from gouging out of eyes, to cutting genitals, to burning bodies with cigarette butts and even chopping off body parts were followed.. Sarwanand Kaul Premi, a noted scholar had nails hammered in place of his tilak. BK Ganjoo was killed in his home and his wife was asked to eat the rice soaked in his blood. Sarla Bhat a nurse was gangraped before being killed and her naked body was thrown on the street. The killers of Ravinder Pandita of Mattan danced over his body. The bodies of Brijlal and Choti were tied to a jeep in Shopian and dragged for 10 km.
Girja Tikoo, a school teacher in Bandipora, was gangraped before being killed. There are hundreds of such stories. One can almost write a book on the people who suffered at the hands of the terrorists while the meek and feeble Indian state looked the other way. A notorious terrorist named Bitta Karate alone killed more than 20 Pandits and had no shame accepting the same. JKLF was responsible for almost all the killings in 1990. More than a thousand Pandits were killed, tortured and raped.
The exodus meanwhile carried on. By 1991, most Pandits had fled the valley. They were housed in huge inhospitable torn tented camps on the fringes of Jammu city. More than 50,000 families had fled and were living in camps which were bereft of even basic facilities like toilets. Each family was allotted a tent. Sometimes more than 10 members shared a ramshackle tent where privacy was literally non-existent. In these camps, deaths were reported because of disease, more because of snakebites and, as the summer came, hundreds died of sun stroke and heat. No one seemed to bother. Neither the state administration nor the champions of human rights! No international aid agencies came to their rescue, neither did the government of India. The Kashmiri Pandits were left to die.
No more than 20,000 Pandits were living in Kashmir now. The process of ethnic cleansing continued in Kashmir with terrorists and a lot of Kashmiri Muslim population burning and desecrating shrines and temples of Hindu worship. Looting and arson took place. Thousands of Pandit homes, hundreds of temples were burnt and razed to ground. The land was later encroached upon. All this was happening in a multicultural, secular India but the secularists did not seem bothered.
But the Pakistan backed terrorists weren’t done yet. Their insatiable appetite for killings wasn’t satiated yet. More Pandits were to be killed. Seven massacres were inflicted on the hapless community. The terrorists did not even spare two-month old kids. Entire villages of Pandits were wiped off. Yet not a tear was shed, not an award returned, no protest marches taken out, no press statements came from film stars condemning the killing of an entire race.
As we stand today, not one person has been convicted, leave alone punished for the killing of more than a thousand Kashmiri Pandits. No commission of enquiry on the lines of 1984 anti Sikh riots or 2002 post Godhra riots has ever been commissioned to go into the cause of killings and exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. No government has bothered to go after the murderers of Kashmiri Pandits. As their homes lie deserted, encroached and their temples in ruins, they stand at the verge of extinction, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue bothering either the political parties or the so called human rights activists.
Religious Sadism At Its Peak
Killing of Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir by terrorists clearly depicts extreme sadism. All victims have been subjected to extreme torture and terror.
Torture deaths have been brought about by such inhuman practices as:
· Strangulation by using steel wires
· Branding with hot irons
· Burning alive
· Bleeding to death
· Gouging out of vital organs
· Dismemberment of Human bodies
· Drowning alive.
Terrorists have frequently indulged in barbaric acts like performing 'death dances' after killing their target. Many a time, dead bodies were not even allowed to be properly cremated.
Failure of Government of India:
The Jammu and Kashmir Government and Government of India have failed squarely to protect the Kashmiri Pandits against Islamic terrorism. Jammu and Kashmir being the only Muslim majority state in whole of India, the protection of minorities and their living peacefully, in their homeland, is crucial for India to remain as a Secular Democratic State.
Ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits (Hindus) from Kashmir valley is the crucial failure of Indian state to uphold its commitments to people of India as enshrined in Indian constitution which provides right to live with dignity and honour to every citizen irrespective of caste, creed, religion or colour.
Failure of Human Rights Organisations:
Leading International Human Rights Organisations like Amnesty International, Asia Watch and others have yet to take proper cognizance of the genocide perpetrated on Kashmiri Pandits.
Their representatives have so far failed to visit the camps in Jammu, Delhi and other parts of India where thousands of families are putting up for the last five years. Gradual extinction of a civilised community with an ancient culture is yet to shake the conscience of the world.
After The Exodus
· More than 5000 persons have died in camps and elsewhere after their forced exodus from the valley. They died of Sunstrokes (more than 1000) as most of them were used to cold climate of Kashmir and could not acclimatize to extremely hot temperatures in rest of India.
· Heart attacks and accidents which have been mainly attributed to extreme psychological trauma and mental pressures by the doctors.
· Gastroenteritis and typhoid epidemics, snake bites etc.
· The cohesiveness of the displaced families has broken as they were to undergo Diaspora for finding livelihood in various parts of country.
· Cultural Dilution - The whole displaced community with a distinct culture is facing the threat of extinction after losing its natural habitat.
Who Are Kashmiri Pundits
- Representatives of Glorious Heritage And Legacy of Kashmir- Symbols of Brotherhood and Peace
Kashmiri Pundits have always been devoted to spiritual and academic pursuits.
They have during their history of more than 5000 years nurtured values of peace, co-existence and tolerance.
They are the original inhabitants of Kashmir.
Kashmiri Pundits are progenitors of Kashmir Shaivism the philosophy of oneness of mankind.
Hinayan and Sarvastivadin sects of Buddhism found highest expression in Kashmir and Kashmiri Pundits spread their message to China and Central Asia.
Kashmiri Pundits have contributed immensely to the evolution of human thought by contributing to almost all fields of creative human endeavor like literature (mainly Sanskrit), language, science and philosophy from times immemorial.
Since the advent of Islam in 14th century, Kashmiri Hindus have been subjected to extreme persecution. To escape religious fanaticism in the form of forced conversions to Islam they had either to embrace death or leave Kashmir more than once during the last six hundred years.
Present exodus of Kashmiri Pundits is fourth mass exodus in the history of Kashmir since the advent of Islam in this part. Different accounts give different statistics of the total number of Kashmiri Pundits who fled their homes for their life in the 1990s. While some say around 1,00,000 of them had left the valley, others suggest figures as high as 1,50,000 to 1,90,000. A report by the Jammu and Kashmir government says as many as 219 people from this community were killed in the region between 1989 and 2004.
In his book, Our Moon Has Blood Clots, author and journalist Rahul Pandita gives a timeline of the events that brought about the exodus. In this, Pandita writes about the murder of political activist Tika Lal Taploo in September 1989 and goes on list many more horrid memories.
Here's an excerpt of this timeline:
Pandit political activist, Tika Lal Taploo is shot dead by armed men outside his residence.
Massive crowds assemble in mosques across valley, shouting anti-India, anti-pundit slogans. The exodus of Kashmiri Pundits begins. In the next few months, hundreds of innocent Pundits are tortured, killed and raped. By the year-end, about 350,000 Pundits have escaped from the Valley and taken refuge in Jammy and elsewhere. Only a handful of them stay back.
Terrorists drag out seven Kashmiri Pundits from their houses in Sangrampora village and gun them down.
23 Kashmiri Pundits, including women and children, shot in cold blood in Wandhama Village.
24 Kashmiri Pundits, including infants, brutally shot dead in Nadimarg Village.
Thousands of Pundits still languish in refugee settlements of 8 x 8. After more than two decades, the Kashmiri Pundit community has still not been able to return to their ancestral land. They are dispersed all over from Jammu to Johannesburg."
India has seen several changes ever since that fateful night in 1990. New governments have come and gone, multiple developments have come forth nationwide, but scores of Kashmiri Pundits who were chased out of their homes have still not been able to find a way back.
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