The Exile Continues!

By Varad Varenya

June 2011

21 years ago, on 19th January 1990 started the biggest exodus since partition.  About half a million Kashmiri Hindus, facing the threat of Islamic fundamentalism left their homeland. Every year since that day Kashmiri Pandits observe 19 January as Kashmiri Pandit Holocaust/Exodus Day, hoping to go back to their homes one day.

Why did it happen? Every stakeholder has their own version.  Muslims in Kashmir blame then governor Jagmohan but Pandits seem to have not forgotten the events that took place before the fateful night of January 19, 1990.

Warnings were shouted from mosques against KAFIRs, threat letters posted on walls of Pandit houses, often processions would shout slogans like Hum Kya Chahte, Azaadi (We want freedom), Yahan Kya Chalega, Nizam-e-Mustafa (What will have sway here – Prophet’s governance) etc. Killing of Pandits had become a regular affair.

Well Pandits, who were a miniscule minority, thought that the situation in valley will improve in few months. They left for the land unknown, hoping that one day when the normalcy returns, they will come back HOME!

What remains an irony is that there was no judicial enquiry for genocide in the valley till date. There are enquiries, probes, commissions for 1993 Mumbai Blasts, Gujarat Riots, Babri Mosque Demolition, 26/11 Mumbai Attack but no fair enquiry as such on exodus of minorities from Kashmir.  The killer of Pandits – Bitta Karate, who claimed to have killed 22 Pandits in an interview, was let go because of lack of evidence!

Who is responsible for Kashmiri Pandit Exile? Well I would say everyone from the terror mastermind sitting across the border to the elected leaders of this country.

Our neighbours from the majority community did nothing to stop our selective murders.  In fact, most of them were driven towards the Azaadi sentiment and openly supported it.  Pandits were detested and many a time the local would turn an informer for the terrorist organization looking for a Kashmiri Pandit.  In 22 years, not a single protest was held to protest against injustice done to Kashmir Pandits. In fact, when killers like Karate were released they were given a HERO’s welcome.

Indian government remained and remains a mute spectator to the exodus. Spokespersons of the political party in power have often ridiculed Kashmiri Pandit cause to attract voters of a particular sect.  The small community of Kashmiri Pandits definitely doesn’t interest the vote-hungry politicians of this country. Today a NATIONALIST community is on verge of extinction and seems no-one cares! The people responsible for the exodus have now become power brokers in Kashmir. Our Government hold parleys with them.

This article is neither for the government nor for our neighbours, because enough has been said to them. But, it’s for the common man of India; please awake before it’s too late.  Kashmir is about to fall and you never know what will be next!

Kashmiri Pandits will keep fighting for their right over their motherland and they will sure return on their own terms!

“If I die in exile, think this of me. There is a corner out there in Kashmir where my soul will come to rest.”