Beware young people! Today, on January 19, the 30th anniversary of Kashmiri Pandit exodus day, anyone telling you that militancy in Kashmir, 30 years ago, was a mass uprising for a secular independent Kashmir, is LYING to you. From Allah Tigers, Al Fatah to JKLF, each terror group issued Islamist threats and targeted Hindu minority in the name of Islam.
The circumstances under which Pandits were forcibly driven out from Kashmir in 1990 are often distorted by political parties. The Islamist attacks on Pandits – the trigger for their exodus in 1990 actually began in 1989, when the country was headed by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Jammu & Kashmir was ruled by chief minister Farooq Abdullah. Those attacks, the triggers for the exodus of Pandits, continued under Rajiv Gandhi’s successor VP Singh who ran a coalition government with the support of the BJP.
The 1989 Kashmir was a different place from the Kashmir of earlier times. Suddenly that year, Kalashnikov wielding Kashmiri Muslim youth swarmed into our streets. We heard the boys high on testosterone chanting “azadi” (freedom from India), “Pakistan se rishta kya… la ilaha illa allah” (relationship with Pakistan is that of with Allah) and “nizam-e-mustafa” (Sharia rule) in the same breath. 79 innocent, unarmed civilians were killed that year by these “freedom fighters”.
Before governor Jagmohan took over and the governor’s rule was imposed and the army deployed in January 1990, 21 Kashmiri Pandits, a tiny minority of Hindus in the Muslim valley, were killed. Of the 2,150 incidents of violence, 2100 attacks were against civilians.
In 1989, Sheela Tikoo a housewife who was shot dead while crossing the Habba Kadal bridge, made no headlines in the newspapers. NK Ganjoo, Tika Lal Taploo, PN Bhat, Mohammad Yousuf Halwai and many others who were killed evoked no outrage from Indian intellectual class. But most of the fraudulent politicians and “intellectuals” wrongly blame governor Jagmohan for the exodus of Pandits.
We Kashmiris watched from the slits of our windows masked youth in pherans waving their arms and lobbing petrol bombs on the police. They bombed the Biscoe school, blew up the Central Telegraph Office, the only means of communication during curfews, abducted a few academics too, looted banks and burnt properties and issued dress codes for Hindus and Muslims.
During the parliamentary by-elections in November 1989, outside one polling station in Baramulla, the insurgents placed a coffin with a sign that it was meant for the first person who cast his vote. The very next month, Union home minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s daughter Rubaiya Sayeed was kidnapped and released in exchange of a group of militants. What followed is an educated guess.
In a nutshell, Congress, NC, Janta Dal and BJP failed to protect Kashmiri Pandits. All of them and the Indian state collectively failed completely.