Monthly Archives: January 2014

photos of protest(19/01/14) by Kashmiri pandits

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Aftermath of 19 jan 1990-How and why I fled Kashmir

1990, jan 19, invoked the demons within the people of a large section of the majority community to commit the heinous acts blatantly. Kashmiri Pandits’s(KP’s) still dread that cold night of January. Most the KP’s felt that they will be attacked by the colossal Islamic-mobs meandering the lanes and sub-lanes of the valley with an anti-India mission that night. The cacophonous slogans by the mobs instilled a fear among the KP’s. And the bullets from the A.K 47’s of the militants that killed hundreds of KP’s made sure that the Hindus flee Kashmir.

19 Jan 1990 triggered the subsequent events that cleansed the KP’s as a community from the valley. While many quixotic flowery dreams of the KM’s were soon shattered, when the Army took over, the wounds left by that bestial night left a gangrene in the minds of KP’s as a community .It will be 24 years now, since KP’s left the frenzied valley of the 1990.Not a single KP had thought that their return to their motherland will take such a long time. The forced departure was gruesome but quick .However their return to the valley is still elusive. And with passing time, they are slowly but surely getting erased from the Tapestry of Kashmir.

My encounter with two friends Dalip Bhat and Sanjay Bhat, who left the valley in 1990; their experience, and what made them exit from Kashmir after that cold night of 19 Jan 1990!

Few days back ,I asked Dalip, “what does 19 jan 1990 mean to you?”He said, ”Nothing ! I don’t think of Kashmir anymore.” I asked surprisingly, “why is it so?”. He looked straight into my eyes and said, “Do you remember when you visited me while I was posted as a casual worker with Govt. department at Pulwama, Kashmir.” I said calmly, “Yes! But what has it to do with Kashmir!” He said , “I was working on ad-hoc basis with the Forest department .I was just 19 years old in 1989.But I was happy. My village in Murran, pulwama was everything to me. We had rice-fields and orchards. And cows. My family was self-sufficient. I or my family had never- ever thought of moving out of the valley . But then the militancy erupted and the militants backed by Pakistan started killing us. Everything changed after that”. He paused, as if thinking something. “In the midst of a spring night of 1990, I fled Kashmir along with mine and Sanjay’s family . Sanjay’s father was on the hit-list of militants. We were moving stealthily from karfal mohalla to fateh Kadal with our belongings. Karfal mohalla was more sensitive at that time.” He said. His mobile phone rang .He saw the number and excused himself to attend the call.

When Dileep came back after 5 minutes or so, I requested to him to continue. He thought for a while and said, “After many physical, mental and verbal abuses from the majority community, who were clearly on a mission to free Kashmir from the Indians-including us, We somehow managed to reach Jammu.” I interrupted him and asked him, “ Tell me something about your early experiences of Jammu?”.He yawned , stretched his body for a moment, smiled and said, “I lived in Misriwala camp for three years. I was running a grocery shop there. For another one and a half years, I became a trader. I was a sort of stockist of polythene bags. Then I went to Delhi and worked there for 2 years. I came back to Jammu after my mother fell ill in 1998. Thereafter, I opened a Hardware shop in lower Roop-Nagar and I am still in the same Business since then.” There was a sense of pride in what he was saying. “How is your Business now?” I asked him.

“It is good.I have nine shops in a row. Business is excellent. In spite of everything, I feel, I need some more space to stock things like sanitary ware, tiles etc.” “how do you got the idea of opening this shop?”, I asked him. He said, “when, I came here back in 1998, I sensed that lot of KP’s are constructing new houses. Hence, I too opened a shop. And as it proved, It was really a very good decision.” I quipped “But, you didn’t really answered my question, which I asked in the beginning i.e Jan 19 1990?”.

He deliberated for a while and said, “ the memories of Jan 19-20 and the aftermath will ever remain engraved in the minds all those KP’s who were present in the valley. Never before had we witnessed anything wicked- like that of 1990 . Even in my village Murran, the majority community indirectly facilitated our exodus. They had told us categorically that, in case of any militant attack on us, they will side with the militants. Some people say, the mass-madness of the majority community in early 90 was an instantaneous impromptu reaction of the Muslims towards an oppressed rule. OK, I agree for a moment. But will they, who have occupied KP properties or sold illegally KP properties ever wish for their return? Aren’t those people getting patronage from all the political parties? And what is the Guarantee that 1990 will not be repeated if KP’s opt to return back? Majority community en-masse created an environment that forced us to flee. Will there be ever any mass rally that will call for the returns of the KP’s back to the valley?” He fired questions at me. I had no answers. “I have struggled a lot to reach, where I am today. That is why I don’t want to think about Kashmir.” He said with a sigh. His phone rang again, he looked at his Mobile, then at me, I sensed that it was an urgent call. “Attend your call.I will wait”, said I. He went outside the room again. I started thinking about my last encounter with Sanjay.

I knew Sanjay since we were children. Dileep was his relative. In early April 1990, Sanjay was persuaded by his mother to leave for Jammu. He was told by his mother to attend a wedding at Jammu. Underneath the persuasion of his mother was the concern of his safety . Kashmir was a cauldron in 1990. Hindus were branded as infidels or informers and then hunted dead by the militants with impunity. Like every other Kashmiri Hindu, Sanjay’s mother too wanted to keep away her children from the trouble. Sanjay went to the Jammu in the first week of April 1990 on the behest of his mother.

When I had met Sanjay 3-4 months back, I asked him about his ordeal.“I was in Jammu in early April 1990, to attend a wedding. Though Jammu was calm, I knew Kashmir was not. I used to wait eagerly for the news from any source. Be it newspapers in the morning or radio or T.V. in the evenings. The news was disappointing and disheartening. Everyday, I used to listen that a K.P was killed in one locality or other. And then one late evening I got a call from my mother. She told me that my father is on the hit list of the Militants for being a “Mukhbir”(informer).I boarded the Bus to Srinagar early next day morning to help my family,. I reached my home in karfaol mohalla by night. My father was visibly shaken by the threat. He had not ventured outside his home for a week, not even to buy his cigarette. Instead, my younger brother used to buy tobacco and father used an old Hubble-Bubble to smoke.” I was listening to him with attention. “The killing of Satish Tickoo was still fresh in our mind. After all, he was the son of our landlord. Hence, we had taken the threat with seriousness. we were living like frightened pigeons” He asserted.

“We wanted to leave Kashmir ASAP. Every other day, a Kashmiri pandit was gunned down mercilessly by the militants. KP’s were framed by the militants and no-one would dare to challenge their Jihadi-gag-order. My father was a School master. He was a simple and a non-political man. Yet he was framed. I knew dozens of KP’s who were framed as informers. In fact each and every KP family had a member that was framed for being an informer. What was the message they were trying to convey?” he asked me. He took a deep puff of cigarette, inhaled it, rounded his mouth and blew the smoke in rings. Instead of answering, I was just looking at him . And then he said in a choking voice, “the message was clear that they don’t want a KP there- simple”

“How did you fled from Kashmir?” I asked him. He said, “Immediately, after I reached back to Kashmir, I starting looking for a truck to carry us and our belongings to jammu. After a couple of days, with the help of my KP neighbors, I arranged a Truck. My sister and his family were staying in Fateh-Kadal those days. The night , when we were fleeing Kashmir, I, Daleep and his cousin carried our belongings on our backs and travelled on foot from karfal mohalla to Fateh-Kadal in the midst of night. The Muslim ladies who saw us leaving en-route with our belongings, hurled philippics at us. The invectives and their curses are still fresh in my mind. A couple of ladies, out of hatred for our community, even spitted on us from their first-floor-windows. But, we did not stop. There were five more KP families with us in the truck. we had a sigh of relief upon reaching Jammu”. His face was visibly angry as he was recalling the incident.

“Jan 1990 invokes fear, anarchy ,mobocracy, A.K 47’s, shrilled tones of the loudspeakers of the neighborhood mosques. cold-blooded murders of KP’s. Burning schools. Burning houses .Burning bridges. Burning tyres. Stoning of tin-rooftops of our houses in the middle of night. And an idiosyncratic resentment and hate towards my community” said infuriated Sanjay .I too had experienced the same. Every KP had experienced the same.

By now Dileep came back. After discussing some personal issues, I asked for his permission to leave. I stood up and moved towards the door. As I was leaving, he said, “ It was 28 April 1990, 2.00a.m in the morning, when I fled from Kashmir. I want to forget it all. But Somehow, I can’t”

I know for sure, not a single KP has forgotten Kashmir. The aftermath of the clear, cold night of 19 jan 1990 still haunts the community of KP’s. The slogans raised by a large section of Kashmiri Muslims like “Asa gach Pakistan, Batao ros te batnav saan”(we want Pakistan with KP women and without KP men) clearly reflected their state of mind, and the ghouls reigning their mind and conscience in the 90’s. The prolonged time away from their homeland has in fact made KP’s return to Kashmir difficult. If The aftermath of 1990 intensified the anti-India emotion among the Kashmiri Muslim youth, It also created an abyss between the valley of Kashmir and the Kashmiri Pandits, depriving them to return, to the land of their ancestors even after 24 years.

Year after Year, more and more people like Dalip opine that they will not return to Kashmir now, because for them, professionally, there is nothing they can do in Kashmir. Still, there are many who wish for their return everyday. But, I fear that nothing will change if the State Gov. and GOI doesn’t make a roadmap for the return of KP’s exactly the same way, as desired by the KP’s as a community.

But will they?

A day at jantar-Mantar delhi

I strolled through Jantar-Mantar on Saturday(11/1/14).There were many people protesting for different causes.I visited every stall.But what attracted me was the stall where a Pakistani-shia-muslim-refugees were protesting.

This Pakistani Muslim couple are seeking an Asylum in India.Zulfikar Shah and his wife Fatima Shah spoke to me about the condition of minorities in Pakistan including Christians and Hindus. “we protested for the Bhils. we supported them and openly castigated a maulvi who wanted to illegally occupy the land of a Bhil Lady.” said fatima to me.I asked her, “Who are Bhils?” She said quickly, “The Hindus are known as Bhils in Pakistan.”. Zulfikar told me that they came to Nepal and got themselves registered as “Refugees” in the U.N.

“We were poisoned by the people of ISI in Nepal.We came to India 10 months back.Pakistan’s embassy interfered with our medical-treatment.But, we are officially now refugees.” he emphasized. “In Sindh, we have/had syncretism.I am a believer of sufi philosophy.I believe in all the Religions including Buddhism and Hinduism. The hegemony of Punjabis is obnoxious in Pakistan.They are promoting Salafis as maulvis in the mosques of Sindh.They sponser state-terrorism and abet in the violence.They aim to destabilize Sindh and takeover our natural resources.”said Zulfikar irritatingly.

“The contribution of Sindh to Pakistan’s GDP is more than 70%.” said Fatima with a whiff of pride.Before leaving their place at Jantar-Mantar, Zulfikar zealously said, “Balochis are fed-up with the Punjabis, so are we. Balochistan is asking for their own country like Bangladesh.It(Balochistan) is a vast area, constituting 60% of the land mass of Pakistan.In Balochistan as well as in Sindh, there are state-sponsored-forced-disappearances and target killings.we are fed-up with it. Though, we are the second largest ethenic group in pakistan with 60 million people, But we are treated invidiously.The so called-fundamentalists are fit to be termed as demons-That are brainwashed to plunder and kill the indigenous Sindhis”.

Let Pakistan solve its own problems first and then Poke its nose in Kashmir affairs.

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