Kashmiri pandit exodus and the reasons why Kashmiri pandits left Kashmir is a significant part of the history of Kashmir. We explain the events of 1990 that led to the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley.
Events of 1990 Kashmir Explained
It all began during 1990-1992 when Hindus in the Kashmir valley started getting threatened by Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.
The ferment started with political unrest and the death of Sheik Abdulah in 1982. Farooq Abdullah, son of Sheik Abdullah, became the Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir after winning 1983 elections.
In 1983, Rajiv Gandhi opened the doors of Babri Masjid for Hindus to offer prayers and the ripples were also felt in the Kashmir valley.
A series of incidents started in the valley beginning with:
- The kidnapping of Mufti Sayeed's daughter by militants for release for five terrorists. This boosted the morale of militants as the government fulfilled their demands.
- The killing of Tika Lal Taploo, a prominent BJP leader.
- The killing of Neel Kanth Ganjoo, a retired judge who sentenced JKLF founder Maqbool Bhat to death.
- And, the killing of Journalist-lawyer Prem Nath Bhat.
A wave of panic hit the community after a local newspaper published an anonymous message, allegedly from Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, asking Pandits to leave the valley.
In various locations masked men with Ak-47s, aided by Pakistan and ISI, took out marches and hit lists of Pandits were circulated. As the Pandits were spread all over the Kashmir valley and not densely living in a single area, they became easy targets. Governor rule was then imposed as a result of threatening slogans over loudspeakers from mosques and on streets against Hinduism.
Kashmiri Pandit Exodus
Pandits then started leaving the valley as more and more Pandits were getting killed, which led to Gawkadal Bridge Massacre when CRPF gunned down 160 Kashmiri Muslim protesters. According to an estimate by Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti(KPSS), out of 75,243 Kashmiri Pandit families in January 1990, more than 70,000 fled between 1990-1992 as some lived as refugees in a makeshift tent and filthy camps in Jammu. (source)
Official government data states that 219 Kashmiri Pandits were killed in the region between 1989-2004. Other sources put the numbers to 700-800.
Kashmir Pandits Retreat, is It Possible?
The longing of pandits to return to the valley did not diminish over the years. The efforts to resettle them in the last two decades have been nothing but ghetto-like structures in various parts of Kashmir.
While most Pandits view their departure as part of systematic "ethnic cleansing" by a section of the Kashmiri Muslims, most Muslims see it as a deliberate conspiracy of the Indian state with two objectives: 1) to give them a bad name and, 2) to provide a free repressive hand to the security forces.
Dilution of article 370 and repealing of Article 35A have brought a little joy to the pandits and increased the possibility of them returning home. As the BJP continues to promise that Pandits will return, #HumWapasJayenge started trending on social media.
Reconciliation between the Pandits and Kashmiri Muslim could bring them together, creating among them a sense of interdependence that might be a possible solution of the ongoing hatred between the communities. This is only possible with the pure intentions of the government and the effort of leaders from both the communities to eradicate the hatred between them. Of course, it cannot happen in one night, but in the long run, the results would be in favour, and peace will prevail.