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Opinion

‘Hum Wapas Aayenge’: Kashmiri Pandits

It was on January 19, 1990, about four lakh Kashmiri Pandits were forced to leave their homes in the valley following a violent separatist movement that selectively targeted the minority community in Kashmir. And to mark the 30th anniversary of the mass exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits from the valley, members of the community took to the social media and started a campaign ‘Hum Vapas Aayenge Apne Watan’, which is trending on Twitter as more and more Kashmiri Hindus joined the campaign and pledged to return to their homes.

Many Kashmiri Pandits took to the social media and posted a video of their saying ‘Hum Aayenge Apene Watan, the phrase used the clip is a dialogue from the upcoming film ‘Shikara’.

The members of Kashmiri Pandits community even shared memories of how they fled, their wistful desire to return to the valley. Having been scattered to different parts of the country and the world since then, the community has now expressed hope of returning to the place where their roots lie.

Different political parties came to power but could not create a conducive atmosphere for their return to the valley. Displaced Kashmiri Hindus are still longing to return to the place where they belong. The exodus of Kashmiri Pandits is not secret. Nothing much has changed for the displaced community. What has changed is their culture, tradition, language among other things. 

It was around 9 pm on January 18, 1990, Sanjay Tickoo sank in his favorite chair in front of the television in a house in downtown Srinagar. He had barely switched on the television when the loudspeakers in the mosque began to blare. The announcement was ‘Ralive, Tsalive, ya Galive.’ (convert, leave the place or perish).

The Islamic jihadis wreaked havoc on the minority Kashmiri Hindus. The terrorists murdered the Kashmiri Pandits. Hindu temples were targeted. Kidnappings and incidents of stone-pelting on the Hindus homes were a common occurrence.

Had the then Governor Jagmohan not called the Army to the valley on January 19, 1990, Kashmiri Pandits would have a tough time, The Kashmiri Hindus were left with no other choice but to migrate to other cities in the country. The horrors of terrorism came home for the Pandits on September 14, 1989, when senior advocate and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Tika Ram Taploo was gunned down in broad daylight outside his house in Srinagar. 

The first disturbances began in the valley in the summer of 1986 when a number of Hindu temples in Anantnag district were vandalized. But there is some disagreement over how the crisis was precipitated, A large section of Pandit’s blame the majority Muslim community for fanning the insurgency and the state for failing to safeguard their safety.

Another strand argues that the responsibility for the exodus lies with the then Governor Jagmohan who allegedly vacillated on initial response. The strategy of opening relief camps backfired because it cemented the migration and failed to reassure the Pandits, at any rate, by January 1990, panic was rising within the community as massive street protests, gun march by militants and dissatisfaction with the government threatened to turn sullen anger into violent furry, On January 4, 1990, the widely read Urdu daily Aftab carried a message, ostensibly by terrorists asking the Pandits to leave the valley.

Kashmiri Pandits are still waiting for justice. This year is the dawn of a new era. The era of hope. Even after three decades in exile, the community’s return to their homeland seems to be a distant dream. 

By TIS Staffer
the authorBy TIS Staffer

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