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My Reminiscences of Broked Promises

Posted in hindus, human rights, india, JAMMU & KASHMIR, kashmir, kashmiri pandits by Sandeep on April 25, 2020

It was the peak winter month of January 1987 with a record snowfall in Kashmir. 1986 had been very harsh to a lot of Kashmiri pandit families, due to hidden and cowardly acts of burning their households,temples and properties mostly in Southern districts Anantnag etc during the rule of gull
Shah, brother-in-law of Farooq Abdullah.

Immediately, after opening of locks in ayodhya in February 1986; Some people
say these riots were engineered by Mufti Mohammad sayeed to get a hold on the chair of chief minister.
I was living with my entire family in my village Mazhom ,18 kilometres west of Srinagar. It is also a railway station now.

There were a total of 2 Kashmiri pandit families divided into 8 households, comprising of a total headcount of 34, from the oldest to the infant .Till then, living peacefully co-existed with about 1500 households of Kashmiri Muslim Brethren.

This peace and Harmony was Broken in an unprecedented engineered act of fire, when 2 houses belonging to Kashmiri Pandits were gutted by miscreants in the dead of night. Frightened, we ran helter-skelter consoling each other. villagers turned on the scene, and helped to douse and control the fire of the thatched roofs with all wood frames. Fire fighting staff came 3 hours later from pattan and fire was finally doused- but not the flames of fear and anxiety that we all suffered.

Next day onwards, a temporary police post was erected in our vicinity making us a target of dislike and suspicion amongst a few villagers, due to continued presence of unarmed local police. Some revenue personal and a deputy minister turned up within a fortnight asking one of our household heads to get new clothes prepared for their youth.
The Revenue personal was also conveyed that they were educated yet unemployed. They gave their assurance of help.

The assurance given at that point proved to be a just a lip service. No compensation or relief etc was given to us for the reasons best known to the authorities.

Rajiv Gandhi, had taken charge as prime minister in 1985 after the assassination of his mother Indira Gandhi in 1984, after which riots against Sikh community countrywide took place. Gull Shah government was dismissed in march 1986 and governors rule was imposed. Instead of promoting Mufti Syed as CM of the state, he was made rajya Sabha member and Union tourism minister. It is widely believed that this step was taken to make way for Rajiv Gandhi’s longtime friend Farooq Abdullah.

Interestingly, Farooq Abdullah’s Govt had been toppled by engineering defections of NC MLA’s previously. Gul Shah-his brother in law, had been installed as CM.It is believed that Mufti Syed orchestrated this in order to fulfill his underlying ambition of becoming the state CM.

An accord between Rajiv and Farooq was signed in Nov 1986 to the displeasure of senior Congress leaders that included Mufti syed as welk. Elections were declared to be held in 1987.

Before elections, Rajiv Gandhi visited Kashmir amidst a thick snowfall. A visit to gulmarg along with his friend and host,was on the itinerary. It was snowing heavily during that night and we noticed snow dozers clearing the road early in the morning , a hundred metres from my house. The police presence along the road showed up and most folks of the village gathered along the road to Gulmarg-that passed through our village. In addition to our main house, a hundred metres from this road, we had another small house cum grain store just on the roadside.

All our community folks queued alongside the edges of the Road to have a glimpse of the motorcade. At that time, My elder son was one and half years old and was distinguishable amongst the crowd due to his fair face and Apple red cheeks from a distance.
He was held by my younger sister . The pilot car appeared and the PM’s Jeep followed at a gap of about 200 meters. Rajiv Gandhi was at driver’s seat himself and Farooq Abdullah by his side. The Wives of both leaders Sonia and Molly were settled in the middle of the SUV. Going at a slow speed due to snowy road and presence of people along its edges .

No sooner did the PM’s Jeep reached near my house, an old KP lady- shobhavati- in a traditional KP attire almost jumped in front of the PM’s vehicle , to the shock of everybody present there!
Rajiv Gandhi applied brakes to a halt. The security personnel immediately appeared and threw a ring around his vehicle. He inquired about the lady and her problems. she tried to explain in Kashmiri. Being very near to this scene, Rajiv Gandhi waved at me asking to tell him what shobhavati was saying ,which I precisely told him .
I told him that her house has been damaged by the fire and her 32 year old son is still unemployed , and that no relief was provided to her as a fire victim.

” wajahat ko bulao” , ordered Rajiv Gandhi.
A long motorcade of bureaucrats and politicians and other personnel was lined up behind his SUV and some of their occupants had got down ,struggling among villagers gathered there, to reach near PM’s vehicle.
Farooq Abdullah as usual turned vociferous at the peak of his volume,hurling choicest indecent abuses in the name of revenue authorities and divisional commissioner. “Yiman chhuv na kenh dyutmut”? ( have you not given them anything ?You have left this shabbiness at the roadside) Farooq’s wife was along with Sonia Gandhi in the rear seat.

Somehow, Sonia Gandhi caught a glimpse of my son with apple red cheeks and waved at my sister-who was holding him- to come near. Taking that one and half year old kid in her lap, she loved him and then handed over to Rajiv Gandhi who too fondled him and asked ” kiska bachha hai”? I responded and took the child from him. In the meantime some secretary had reached near PM with a stenos pad in his hands.

“write down a house and a job for her son” PM of India ordered amongst the hundreds present there. Many more people tried to ask favours among the crowd. To all those Farooq Abdullah asked to keep their applications ready. On their return journey these would be collected and acted upon. I don’t know what fate fell on all the other applications and demands,but one thing I know for sure; Prime minister of India Rajiv Gandhi’s orders on spot, in presence of a large crowd of machinery and media were not carried out, making our small community of 34 people in that village a topic of mockery and fun.

I wonder if he and his office ever used to bother to take note of follow up action on promises made while touring , to innocent people, who chose them to high office. The only thing I remember is many villagers congratulated me because king and queen of the country had put their hands on my son’s head, so a sign of auspiciousness.

Soon however ,my son ,his whole family and his whole community were forcibly exiled from their ancestral homeland that left me wondering whether it brought auspiciousness or misfortunes…..

By-Sh. Virendra Bhat ji

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