November 11, 2011 by Ashwin
Since late 1989, the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir(J&K) has been in the grip of a vicious movement of Islamist extremist terrorism. As many as 36,289 lives have been lost in this conflict over nearly 14 years of a sub-conventional war that has inflicted enormous suffering on the people of the State.
In news often we have heard about Kashmiri Pandits but most of us don’t know the real story. What happened and why?
It started in 1989, when Terrorists started selective killing of Kashimiri Pandit leaders, from advocates, judges,leaders to journalists. January 13,1990 Kashmiri Muslims came on the streets started burning homes of Kashmiri Pandits, creating a situation of total anarchy. In 1990, then Pakistan President Benazir Bhutto delivered some hate speeches and also orchestrated the attacks on Kashmiri Pandits by promoting insurgency in Kashmir and these terrorists started what has never been in control ever since. sHe said if the Pm of India goes to Kashmir the people ofIndia will not welcome him. The people of Kashmir do not fear death because they are Muslims. Kashmiri’s have the blood of Mujahid’s and Ghazi’s. They know to fight and win and they will live with dignity. And, soon every town of Kashmir would be free. From every Masjid there would be one voice aajadi.
A man named Brij Lal Raina wa taken away from his home, his eyes were taken out with a knife and then his tongue was pulled out and cut with scissors. Another man who was just married was tied in a street and 8 bullets were fired on him. Youngsters were picked from their houses and strangled with steel wires. Women were raped and hanged naked on the trees and some burnt alive and others branded with hot iron rods. A kid was taken away from his mom and thrown in Jhelum river in front of her eyes. A son who had gone to perform last rites of his father was not spared.Warnings were posted on the doors of Pandits to fled the sacred Kashmir. They were given three choices: Become a Muslim and start chanting Allah ho Akbar or join the mobs in killings of other Pandits or Just flee away. They took refuge in Jammu, Delhi and other parts of democratic India, a very different India from which they had fled. They became refuges in their own country. But the world remained silent.
January 13.1990 in 1990, a Kashmiri Pandit nurse working at the Soura Medical College Hospital in Srinagar was raped and later killed by Pakistan-backed terrorists. The incident was preceded by massacres of Pandit families in the Telwani and Sangrama villages of Budgam district and other places in the Kashmir Valley. While the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) claimed a ‘secular’ agenda of liberation from Indian rule, the terrorist intent was clearly to drive non-Muslim ‘infidels’ out of the State and establish Nizam-e-Mustafa (literally, the Order of the Prophet). Accounts of Pandits from this traumatic period reveal that it was not unusual to see posters and announcements – including many articles and declarations in local newspapers – telling them to leave the Valley. Pandit properties were either destroyed or taken over by terrorists or by local Muslims, and there was a continuous succession of brutal killings, a trend that continues even today
Kashmiri Pandits, descendents of Hindu priests and among the original inhabitants of the Kashmir Valley, with a recorded history of over 5,000 years. Over the millennia, this community has been integral not only to the cultural and intellectual life of the people of this region. The Pandits became the targets and victims of one of the most successful, though little-known, campaigns of ethnic cleansing in the world. Pogroms of a far lesser magnitude in other parts of the world have attracted international attention, censure and action in support of the victim communities, but this is an insidious campaign that has passed virtually unnoticed, and on which the world remains silent. Among the complex reasons for this neglect is, perhaps, the nature of this community itself: where other campaigns of ethnic cleansing have invariably provoked at least some retaliatory violence, the deep tradition and culture of non-violence among the Kashmiri Pandits has made them accept their suffering in silence, with not a single act of retaliatory violence on record.
In 1941 Kashmiri Pandits were 44% of Kashmir Population and in 2001 they were just 0.1%.Ethnic cleansing was evidently a systematic component of the terrorists’ strategic agenda in J&K, and estimates suggest that, just between February and March 1990, 140,000 to 160,000 Pandits had fled the Kashmir Valley to Jammu,Delhi, or other parts of the country. Simultaneously, there were a number of high-profile killings of senior Hindu officials, intellectuals and prominent personalities. Eventually, an estimated 400,000 Pandits – over 95 per cent of their original population in the Valley – became part of the neglected statistic of ‘internal refugees’ who were pushed out of their homes as a result of this campaign of terror. Not only did the Indian state fail to protect them in their homes, successive governments have provided little more than minimal humanitarian relief. They still live in tents, there are no houses for them, no education and nothing.They have been treated like untouchables.
Everything happened but the world remained silent. Indian parliament remained silent. Intellectuals, Human right activists, writers, news channels, they all remained silent.