Monday, January 19, 2009

19 years to the 19th day of 1990: Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits

I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day
What hours, O what black hours we have spent…
- Gerard Manley Hopkins

19th January 1990. Kashmir was breathing still; Kashmiri Pandits lay hidden like frightened pigeons in their own nest. Today on behalf of my fellow brothers and sisters, I wish to revisit the pain of my separation from my own home 19 years ago, when the cruel hands of Allah-Wallahs butchered members of my community for being idol worshipers, for rejecting the call for unholy Jihad and for siding with their own nation India. The Islamic murderers played dire warnings from their Mosques which pierced each nerve of anybody who held a Hindu name. As the sun turned pale, exhortations became louder, and three taped slogans repeatedly played their terror: 'Kashmir mei agar rehna hai, Allah-O-Akbar kehna hai' (If you want to stay in Kashmir, you have to say Allah is great); 'Yahan kya chalega, Nizam-e-Mustafa' (What do we want here? Rule of Shariah); 'Asi gachchi Pakistan, Batao roas te Batanev san' (We want Pakistan along with Hindu women but without their men).

The roots of this unparalleled tragedy are immersed in 1986 with a well-planned strategy to execute Hindus from the valley. By 1990, the population saw their age old temples turned to ruins and lives at risk. As Pakistan stepped up their campaign against India, new Islamic terror outfits suddenly mushroomed in the state. As Jamait-e-Islami financed all madarsas to poison them against the minority Hindus and India, Pakistan further dictated youth to launch Jihad against India. A terror strike so meticulously planned that its unprecedented display was terrifying. As camps in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) began to provide training to innumerable Muslim men, India witnessed the emergence of the bloodiest Kalashnikov culture in the valley. The victims- innocent and non-violent minority- the Kashmiri Pandits.
The Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, abandoned his responsibilities and the administration, the state and people lay like cattle on an open road. The hidden fact of rigged elections in 1987 had by then become a lucid statement. Today 22 years later, Omar Abdullah takes position of the same majestic throne, though I wonder how efficiently he would carry forward the state of affairs. Will he like his father ruin the backbone of the state and leave the minority Hindus helpless as always, or will he rise above politics, religion to create space for Pandits in their valley? The unanswered question lingers on.
When Farooq Abdullah escaped underground, Jagmohan took reigns as the governor of the state. Though not very competent to handle an already ruined socio-political situation, he as a mark of remarkable leadership helped Kashmiri Pandits receive safe shelter. Jagmohan charted out an exceptional strategy to counter Islamic fanatics and also opened his Durbar (Office) to public irrespective of time. He visited families of the martyred Hindus. About one such meeting with the family of Satish Tickoo, murdered by communal JKLF goon Bitta Karate , he wrote an outstanding excerpt in his book, ‘My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir’- “In Habba-Kadal, except for the long row of our vehicles, nothing was seen on the streets. The afternoon rain appeared to have soaked the houses with depression. The few windows that were open were without even the usual dim light. The dark clouds overhead completed the picture of gloom… The house of Tickoo was like a shattered nest. Everything lay scattered. The grim atmosphere around told the tale more vividly...”
He further wrote, “As I was about to leave, Satish’s uncle who was a bit vociferous and assertive, insisted that I should go upstairs and see the family deity. I agreed. A calm majestic figure was soon visible. It looked so imposing even in the darkness… With tears in their eyes, the family members thanked me and the accompanying officers. We were all moved over the sad plight of the family”.
However one excerpt that mirrored my anxiety of 19 years was composed in words by Jagmohan, “Looking at the compact and enmeshed houses, and the by-lanes which acted like fine threads of a well-knit fabric, I wondered how these families, who had all their Gods and Goddesses here, and had deep roots in the soil, could leave and settle in distant and unfamiliar lands. Sometimes life is unaccountably cruel. And we human beings have, perhaps, no option but to suffer – suffer in silence, or wail”.
Satish Tickoo was not the lone martyr who fell to the bullets of so-called revolutionaries. Tika lal Taploo, Nilkanth Ganjoo, Sarla Bhat, and countless others followed the target list of JKLF and other Islamic Terror outfits backed by Pakistan financially, psychologically and politically. An absent government, collapsed administration, and a petrified community saw despondency set in. As the moonlight of January 19, 1990 wore itself out, despondency gave way to desperation. Tens of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits across the valley decided to take an agonizing decision, to flee their homeland and save their lives and religion from rabid Jihadis…
..Thus took place a 20th century Exodus.

Pandits left the valley, with an approximate statistics of more than three lakh and fifty thousand. Almost a thousand Pandit men, women and children were slaughtered to death in 1990 alone by these revolutionaries of Islam. Surprisingly on paper, official figures clogged at only 209 killed! Alas! Soon the J&K government shall disown the whole Pandit community as aborigines of Kashmir.

In this 19th year, a few hundred frightened Pandits still live scattered across the valley in far flung areas hoping against hope for peace and their brethren to step on the snow once again.

This 19th year embarks upon a history of bullets to makeshift camps in Jammu with torturous summer heat to snake and scorpion bites and finally dreadful diseases. Seven camps in Jammu are an uninhabitable asylum for around 50,000 Kashmiri Pandits. The only perceptible change is an upgradation of some to permanent structures.

My heart bleeds when I watch communal turned pseudo-secular Kashmiri separatists grab the headlines while the plight of the Pandits remains a non-issue. It isn’t the so-called Azaadi that the people of Kashmir desire. They long for an immediate crackdown on terrorists, an end to the separatist elements and those unbearable puppets in the Valley- all for normalcy to return. Though sidelined for now, the political patronage they enjoy could soon take the voices from the Hurriyat and JKLF spreading propaganda of terror and hatred to the frontlines of politics.

An entire community uprooted from the land of their ancestors is today struggling for its identity. The weak-kneed Indian state shamelessly panders to Islamic terrorists and separatists who claim they are the final arbiters of Jammu and Kashmir's destiny. A part of India's cultural heritage is destroyed; a chapter of India's civilization has been erased. And, our jhola-wallah brigade of ‘secular’ activists unabashedly turns their back to the plight of Kashmiri Pandits. To them I believe, ‘Hindu sorrow, inflicted by Islamic terror’ is a truth perhaps too harsh to accept. Thereby hangs a tragic tale that is completely wiped out from public memory.

I am reminded of a stanza by a Jewish poet: ‘...without identity in a street nameless to me, I am a stranger: I am longings, I am fears. I am child longing to belong to his lost childhood and not be outside the present, always withdrawn, apart...’

I’m as old as the terrorism in the Valley. In these 19 years, the only time I felt the breeze of my land was through the closed windows of my airplane. She beckons me and I am too desperate now to grab its serene quilt. My mother nature has summoned me, and I shall answer her call soon, very soon.

Till then, in this 19th year of exile like the unanswered questions of our human rights …my struggle for existence also continues.

The author Aditya Raj Kaul is an activist based in New Delhi. He studies Political Science at the Delhi University.He can be reached at


nerd2world said...

Good, very good. A succint summary of 19 years of negligence...

Anonymous said...


Your passion is unmatched as is your fearlessness.Among us lambs you walk like a lion.


An anonymous fan of yours

Rajesh said...

Thanks for keeping the flame alive and reminding those we might have forgot the brutalities at the hands of Islamic zealots.

God bless you for your undiluted passion...

Rajesh Pandit

Anonymous said...

it is unfortunate no ind media, minorty forum, secular brigadiers, and ngos HRAs makes any noise to butchery done to punditsEven some stupid news from pakistan makes a breaking headlines in so called natioal tv channelsI atried to post your msg in some national secular english news website but it is blockedGodd work keep fightingHope God wil help to those whothemselves

Ashwin said...

We really want a good solution for this.I mean KM bashing is not really going to help.
Unfortunately not many indians know about the KP exodus.

Anonymous said...

The Best mohammed T-shirt art is from Sweden. Watch and read the info at,
And allah will help the muslims, HA HA HA HA

Anonymous said...

same should be done to Indian muslims..flush them out.....

Amit said...

It's a black day of Indian history.

Rakoo said...


Hello Fnd....

U have just recreated the whole scene of the discrimnation met to Kasmir Hindus.The words speak for themselves abt d pain .... It seems so hard to hear dat I can't understand wat wud have been d position of our parents when thay were leaving d place dey had roots of.

Tis is a shame for our country dat in our own country we r treated as outsiders.But no regrets as it is for us now to stand up and bring our case to Justice and we will...

Thnx. Alll....'''

Rahul Mehta said...

The mess was because we citizens of India dont have procedures to replace PM.

And to that add the fact that KPs did not have guns.

Azygos said...

Hi Aditya

Do you have any photographs, news material for the mass temple destruction between 1986 and 1989 in Kashmir. Has any scholar made a systematic study of the same

RAMESH Manvati said...

Aditya you deserve my praise for bringing out the tragic events of 1986/1990 ( that forced our entire community into exile ) in such a moving spirit.

Remember the struggle is long. The road is tough. However ,I am sure that our dynamic youngsters ,like you, is equally tough in their resolve to fight back and reclaim the lost roots back in the valley.

God bless you , Orzuv !


RAMESH Manvati said...

Aditya you deserve my praise for bringing out the tragic events of 1986/1990 ( that forced our entire community into exile ) in such a moving spirit.

Remember the struggle is long.
The road is tough....

However ,I am sure that our dynamic youngsters ,like you, are equally tough in their resolve to fight back and reclaim the lost roots back in the valley.

God bless you , Orzuv !


"" said...

This must have been among few emails that I have read from top to bottom on my blackberry.

I just wrapped up my faren on 20th story of this five star hotel. In 19 years from a small village boy today managing millions of computers and 100 s of network sites doesn't give me that joy as the joy wearing my faren and reading your email.

ADi I wept and wept .. Tears rolled like hail storm on nasty autumn evening destroying the harvest of year. Your email destroyed my dream that I am OK.

No I am not ok till my body rests in the soil and leaves of chinar... I am not ok till I bathe in serene waters of vyeth... I am not ok till I score another 6 runs in my village ...I am not ok till I milk the cows and worship my diety at local temple.

I was 12 when I left ... Now hair line is receeding but my will to be back is increasing and becoming desperate day by day.

Dollars and pounds will give me physical comfort but void in my soul won't be filled till I breathe my last over the burning pyres of 1000 s who were killed by terrorists. Till I see the 5000 year habitat flourishing again...

Love my motherland
Veer ji wangoo

Sent from BlackBerry® on Airtel

Pawandeep Singh said...

A moving tale and a work in pathos; it fills the heart with grief.

Arjun Verma said...

Sad situation.And the more they stay out of Kashmir the more it gets accepted they were never part of Kashmir..

Sunil Bhat said...

Dear Aditya, Excellent !! This is a wonderful piece. U deserve all the praise. U have given a new hope to Kashmiri Hindus, u r a role model for the youth of this country. Ur article is an eye-opener for the SICKULAR people who have always turned a blind eye towards the plight of Kashmiri Hindus. One friendly advice, keep the fire alive and never try to moderate ur views no matter what the situation and circumstances are. U have already proved to be an excellent activist. I just wish for the day u become the Prime Minister of our great country India. U have got all the qualities for that & I have no doubt that u will one day lead the entire Kashmiri Hindu population back to their native place, Kashmir.

God Bless You !!!

Jai Hind !!!

Jai Bharat !!!

With Regards,
Sunil Bhat

kaveetaa kaul said...

Fantastic Aditya..heartbreaking and poignant, wrenches ones gut. Am publishing it on Sachiniti.

Sumeet Parmar said...

Kashmiri Pandits persecution is going on since 1671


Let's hope this grief ends soon.

Fahad Firdausi said...

Thank You for sharing. Moving.

amitmagazine said...

Remindes me how we left our mauaz kashir.

Fantastic work .You have lot more to do.
Good luck!!

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

Yes it is time we were awakened from our slumber and reminded of the grim reality. Kashmiri Pandits mercilessly terrorised and compelled to evacuate their homes while the administration sat back quoting incapability. The numbers of Pandits were not as many to evoke a nation wide stir. Wonder what would have been the situation had Muslims been made to scurry away from thier home towns! We all know the answer.
Visit -

Krishnan said...

Would it have been any different if it hapened today? Well written Aditya. to your bold question..Imagine another seige even more horrendous.

Pooja Shali said...

well expressed...

Lakshmi Albright said...

It is indeed true that the plight of the Kashmiri pundits is not well covered in media. We need more of such write-ups to realize the real cost of terrorism. Thanks for sharing.

gajanan said...

“Jhola-wallah brigade of ’secular’ activists unabashedly turns their back to the plight of Kashmiri Pandits”

These jhollawallas have been the enemy within. One just cannot understand these fellows. For example, the Soviet Union, every Jhola-wallahs dream ideology vacation spot was broken up with the US allying with Mujhadeen which evolved into Taliban, a motley mix of mullahs and the establishment in Pakistan. Now instead of opposing the group which defeated their fatherocracy , these jholla-wallas are acting like a bunch of nitwitian nicoompoops by betraying their ideological parentage. Yes , they say our new parentage is China as it is having an economic clout. You never know , they may even welcome an Chinese intrusion, hugging them and dancing with them even as their base crumbles and their jhollas stripped off. India’s greatest misfortune has been these jholla-wallahs. Dhobi ka kutta na ghar (India) ka na ghat(Marx) ka.

Rashmi Aima said...

Dear Aditya,

It was really sad and moving tale.God bless .Keep going .With the
youngsters like you and your vision,i hope to see myself sometime from
now to be back in kashmir.

God bless you


Zahid said...

Wait for us ,, We'll be back for SURE, its just a matter of time...

☆┌─┐ ─ ☆
│▒│ /▒/
│▒ /▒/─┬─┐
☆ ▦ ☆
☆ ☆
Send it to all who really cares about our Land,,
Lets tell the whole World that we didn't forget, we are just Planning...

If I breathe. Its Kashmir oxygen
If I speak...its Kashmir language
If I's on a Kashmir shoulder
If I's for Kashmir freedom
If I promote...I promote Kashmir
If I fight. I fight with a Kashmir soul
If I make's because am Kashmir
When people say is "smart". They think Kashmiris are!
Am not perfect. But that's not a big deal
Am Pakistani. That's the real deal....

Kashmir ki Azadi tak jang rahe gi - jang rahe gi
Jiss kashmir ko khoon se seench - wo kashmir hamara hai
Pakistan se Rishta kya - La ilaha Ilila

nerd2world said...

You know it is funny that Pakistanis claim to have their hearts bleeding for kashmir, but whatever bloodshed there has been in the beautiful land since '47 is because of them.
You claim to love Kashmir with all your heart and yet didn't even flinch once before sending hordes of murderous tribes to ravage it.
And before militancy erupted there thanks to you guys, things were good. Not perfect. But that's not a big deal.
Today Kashmir's mainstay, its tourism industry lies in tatters, thanks to you guys.
The kids there have guns in their hands, thanks to you guys.
The paradise has turned into living hell, thanks to you guys.
I could go on and on on what your meddling has done to the beautiful land and its inhabitants but that wont' help will it.
I am sure when you die and face Allah, he will actually take you to task for ruining a perfectly beautiful creation of his!

Mansi said...

A very moving account. Shame on the Government of India and all political parties for pandering to Hurriyat and betraying the Hindus of Kashmir.

S.Raghuraman said...

Would the secular brigades ever realise that, the fear of a sizable number of Hindus that the future of Hinduism in the country is in jeopardy, is genuine?

RK Kukreja said...

NOT a Single Hindu should vote for these so called SECULARISTS who are actually only APPEASERS - that is the onlyt way to correct the bias against the Hindus.

Hyder Syed said...

Dear Aditya,

Thank you for sharing your narrative with us. My family immigrated from Kashmir to the United States in 1984, so I cannot comment on the atmosphere in the Valley just before and during the Pandit exodus. I understand that Pandits have suffered immensely due to the conflict, and I do not intend to belittle their losses. However, I'm afraid that the documentary record does not support all of your claims:

According to the 1981 Government of India census, there were approximately 124,000 Hindus, most of whom were Pandits, in Kashmir. As such, it is simply impossible that 350,000 Pandits fled in 1990. (Clearly the Pandit population could not have more than doubled in less than 10 years.) Further, the All-India Kashmiri Pandit Conference estimated that militants had killed 32 Pandits by March 15, 1990, at which point most Pandits had already left the Valley. As such, it is highly unlikely that nearly 1,000 died in the conflict. Meanwhile, the JKLF assassinated three times as many Muslims as Pandits, demonstrating that Pandits were not primarily targeted because of their religion.

It must be recognized that while many Pandits continue to live in overcrowded displacement camps in Jammu, India has transformed the Valley into the most heavily militarized region on the planet. Hundreds of thousands of Indian troops are garrisoned among Kashmir's population (while estimates vary, Ambassador John McDonald of the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy puts the number at 700,000) and have killed tens of thousands of Kashmiri civilians, most of whom were Muslim.

The loss of innocent life is always a tragedy. If the killing of dozens of Pandits in 1990 amounted to genocide, as some claim, then Kashmiri Muslims have endured upwards of 2,000 genocides.

- Hyder Syed




Abid said...

Touching piece. There is good and bad in every religion. I understand your plight mate. We too are no better than you in the larger context. Hope that helps.

Shaan Khan said...

I have always maintained that an independent Kashmir would not be able to sustain itself. Kashmir even if it “gets” its freedom will have to eventually forge close ties with its neighbors in order to survive. Nonetheless, however irrational the demand, one can understand someone’s desire to be free. But freedom at what cost? What is a Palace worth if it is built on someone’s grave? Whatever sympathy one has for those that long for freedom in Kashmir, vanishes when we see the treatment of the Kashmiri Pundits. The actions of the majority in Kashmir against the minority is evil and unacceptable.

But don’t blame religion for this. This is not the action of religious people even if they do it camouflaged in religion. Whenever such things happen do not be fooled by the length of the beard or the saffron colors etc . Religion does not push people to be intolerant. Nor it does it demand the blood of the innocent. It is lack of morals and religion that produces such evil. Islam, like all Abrahamic faiths, for example says that when you save one life you save the whole humanity and when you take one life you kill the whole humanity.

They say to cut a diamond you need a diamond. Hence in order to cut through the atrocity that distortion of religion has created (treatment of the minority community in Kashmir is just one example), one will need true religious knowledge. But in the meantime resists the temptation to become what you dislike / hate. Killing people, spreading hate, tarnishing religion, seeking war is never the correct way forward. Fight ignorance with knowledge, intolerance with tolerance. Use religion to place a check on people who lack religion.

Sudhir K Singh said...

Aditya, you may not have a homeland, but this country is your home. And we are all there to help.

Radhika said...

You have put everything in one place here in this piece - both the facts and the emotions.
I hope you know that the zest, will and sacrifice with which you fight this stuggle for our existence is unmatched....
No matter how improbable our return seems, with all of us together, we will always keep the flame alive. The flame of conviction, not just hope.

Varad Sharma said...

kashmiri pandits must unite under one banner in order to return to their homeland..their PANUN KASHMIR..

Aditya,u r doing a great job...

Lalit Ambardar said...

For us to win our battle, it is imperative to continue to reach out to the rest of the world with the voice that is not of despair but of determination.
Ours is a just cause.
Let us keep reminding the world that ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindu Pandits in the valley of Kashmir at the hands of Kashmiri pan Islamists in 1989-90 followed by scores of deadly jihadi terror attacks across the length & breadth of India & the latest 26-29/11 Mumbai carnage; 9/11; London & Madrid train bombings; Glasgow airport suicide bombing are all a manifestation of the menace of pan Islamism inspired terrorism that endangers the world today.
Please keep it up.
Return we will, to our roots-the land of our ancestors, on our terms………
God bless!
Lalit Ambardar

Anonymous said...

There is nothing phenomenal in the post. I have heard this story a thousand times. I have now stopped thinking that Kashmiri Pandits can offer anything new. The writer is also against communalism as a whole, whereas, Hindu communalism is a good thing. The writer should try to bring forward more unknown facts on Kashmir instead of repeating the same old 'ethnic cleansing' tale again and again.

Dionysus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dionysus said...

I'm so sick and tired of all this bullshit..we're no good than them if we don't tolerate..and btw, dont you guys think all this has happened for the better?

All this ability to stand for thyself in public has stemmed from the fact that we're not in Kashmir anymore, but in a better place, though, I agree, Kashmir was an eye candy, but it was all there was to it.

madan said...

dear aditya
Fantastic effort . i whole heartedly identify with your sentiments and ideology and approach towards our KASHMIR, and point of view you placed in your discussions on cnn-IBN on 18th August. I was for a long trying to hear a voice which has compassion for right minded muslims of Kashmir at the same time strong point of view of Kashmiri Pandits plight.
Please keep the spirt going . like me many more will join you in your crusade .Our stake in our Kashmir should never die come what may .Some where we too have made great mistakes as a community. Leaving Kashmir was unavoidable but selling properties should have been avoided . God bless you
With Best wishes !
Usha Madan

Phoenix said...

Phoenix said...


You are bringing up the story not many has heard of..I recently watch your passionate debate in CNNIBN.. I did some research on that issue. i am shocked to know hindus suffering of kashmir..
You are doing the excellent job..for long time we have suffered for being is the time to raise the voice..

here is the link of small documentary about Kashmiri pandits

Anonymous said...

I have nothing personal against but i will call that spade a spade nothing less or this religion is posing a threat as global as is pollution or are just facing that in the india of today while we all know how much muslim scholars have themselves praised in their books the killing of kafirs,destruction of their worship places.these things ensures them their hoories and wine...eternally.
Ps:i accept their r exceptions everywhere and they r less than 5%

Arslan said...

If you talk about Islam being a religion of violence or hate let me tell you that different Quranic verses attribute to certain times and certain contexts, and if you start applying the lessons from the Quran without knowing the real context you are bound to get lost and you may be reach to a misleading conclusion.For instance there was a time when alcohol was permitted in Islam and latter banned, a drunkard cannot justify himself by referring only to the time it was permitted and ignoring the stage when it was banned. If you only read two verses one where it is permitted do consume alcohol and other where it is prohibited, you are bound to be in a deli ma. Muslims and Non Muslims both, interpret the Quran out of context and hence we have this day as we are seen by non Muslims. It was ordered to kill a non Muslim at a time of war, and Muslims who understood it out of context decided that all non Muslims have to be killed and the non Muslims who understood it that was call Islam a barbaric religion, which is not true. There is nothing wrong with the religion, it is something wrong with us, as they say "A little knowledge is a very dangerous thing".