The Tragedy of Kashmiri Pandits

Imagine notices and posters being printed for your killing outside your locality, people being assaulted through targeted killings and you have to vacate the house where you spent your life all of a sudden. Well…this is just what happened with the Kashmiri Pandits in one of the most infamous Exodus incidents in India’s history. The incident has been the talk of the town due to the recent release ‘The Kashmir Files’. Now, whatever be one’s opinion on the movie, I don’t think anyone’s opinion would vary on the Exodus incident. But, at the same time, it is also important that we deep-dive into the incident with minute details so that we have information about all the factors behind it and there is no false propaganda.

The Background

At the time of partition, Sheikh Abdullah was a very popular figure in Kashmir and was also referred to as the SHER-e-KASHMIR. He used to attack and oppose Pakistan’s views and was also a friend of Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru particularly trusted him as the chief minister as he wanted to prove to Pakistan that a Muslim leader can run Kashmir in a ‘secular’ way. But once he started showing anti-national traits by talking about Kashmir’s independence with other countries, he was put under House-Arrest in 1953. He was only able to come out in 1964. By now, he ‘presented’ himself as a secular leader. At that point, he seemed like the only hope that could have bound Kashmir, so he was made the chief minister. But, again he started showing some radical traits, especially by referring to Kashmiri Hindus as ‘others’.

His son Farooq Abdullah took over after his death in 1982. Now, Congress was getting unhappy with Farooq and broke the government. They joined hands with Ghulam Mohammad Shah (Son in Law of Sheikh Abdullah). Now, things started getting out of hand and the valley situation started taking a communal turn. The killing of the Hindus started with the government not being able to do anything. After this, Rajiv Gandhi decided that Farooq only should be the chief minister and withdrew support from Ghulam. Here, it should be known that Rajiv and Farooq too were very good friends just like Nehru and Sheikh. Here, in Kashmir, Muslims were in majority while Hindu Pandits were in a small share. Kashmiri Pandits were educated people, mostly working as teachers and scholars in the valley.

Farooq Abdullah's National Conference and the Congress under the leadership of Rajiv Gandhi - News Nation

Pic: Rajiv Gandhi and Farooq Abdullah

The 1987 Elections

This is very well considered the turning point of the whole Disaster. In this election, Congress and National Conference (NC) fought together. On the opposite side was the Muslim United Front (MUF). The MUF consisted of completely radical parties with Anti-India sentiments. So, Congress and NC rigged the elections and made Farooq come out victorious. But, the extent of rigging was so high that NC won on such seats where even their own contestants weren’t confident. As a result, many MUF candidates felt cheated and started aligning with Pakistan. The biggest example was perhaps Sayyad Salahuddin, who went to Pakistan and joined Hizbul Mujahideen. The Evil Minds across the border saw it as a great opportunity to bring havoc to the valley.

1998 Wandhama massacre: 23 Kashmir Pandits were killed by gunmen

The Era of Blood and Terror

After losing in the war against India, Pakistan decided to use the method of Guerilla warfare to dent India in Kashmir. Also, this was the time, when Islamization was on a rise in Pakistan after Zia Ul Haq’s death. Benazir Bhutto was the prime minister and she too contributed to the cause through her provocative speech. Other than that; Afghan Jihad in Soviet, Islamic Revolution in Iran and Wahabism from rich Gulf nations too created that atmosphere. Life in Kashmir was such that if a Palestinian is killed in Israel, someone will try to avenge that death here in the valley. This led to an exponential rise in militancy in the valley. Not just that, the terrorists were doing targeted killings of Kashmiri Hindus. Some big names like BJP leader Pandit Tika Lal Tikoo, retired judge Nilkanth Ganjoo, Journalist Prem Nath Bhat, etc. were gunned down further raising the tensions in the valley. Then, two bomb blasts took place, outside the Telegraph Office and Golf Course.

JKLF and Jamaat-e-Islaami were the two main organisations behind these activities. Their main aim was setting up Jaam-e-Mustafa, which basically means the Rule of Prophet or the Army of Occupation. The atmosphere was developed that the Pandits are a CANCER for this valley. They should vacate the valley and should never return back. On 4th January 1990, Hizbul Mujahideen published a notice, which clearly ordered all the Hindus to vacate the valley and this place belongs to Muslims only. They also got their statements published in the ‘Aftaab’ newspaper, where they were talking about the supremacy of Islam in every sphere of life. The mosques were captured and made the main point of propagating such Anti-Hindu hate speeches. The media and Press in the valley were censored and taken down. Processions and Mobs started creating an Anti-Hindu atmosphere signalling the Pandits to leave the valley. Slogans like these were very common in the Mosques and Processions.

“Khoon-e-Shaheeda Rang Laya…Mazhab ka Parcham Lehraya…Jago Jago Subah Hogi…Roos ne baazi haari hai…Hind pe larza tari hai…Ab KASHMIR ki baari hai…Jago Jago Subah hogi”.

“Yaha kya chalega Nizaam-e-Mustafa…Zalzala aaya hai Kufr ke maidaan mein…Lo MUJAHID aa gye maidaan mein.

No plan for Pandit townships in Valley

A Timeline of the Migration

Now, regarding the migration, it started ‘mainly’ in 1989 as the atmosphere started getting poisonous by then itself. But, 1990 was the main focal point. Once the army was sent to Kashmir to manage the situation, there were many incidents of excesses against the Muslims that were being reported, which included rape and murder. After this, Farooq Abdullah removed the whole army from the valley citing these incidents on the 16th of January. This was a huge political and administrative blunder as it gave an open path to the militants. Now, intensifying his blunder, Farooq resigned as the CM on the 18th and fled to London. Now, who in the proper state of mind would have done that? The whole valley with already fragile law and order was left all open without any Guardian, just a Paradise situation for terrorism. The following days saw some of the most brutal and tragic killings in India’s history.

Especially the 19th of January is considered the most Dreadful day. Kashmir Pandits actually mark that date as Remembrance. It is considered that more than 90% of the Pandits migrated by that date only. Some migration kept on happening till 1998 and even 2006. Looking at the total toll, out of 75,000 odd Pandit families there earlier, 70,000 fled from the valley consisting of around 1-3 lakh people. Also, around 700 Pandits were killed, though the official toll is ridiculously just around 219. The migrating Pandits had to sell their good prosperous houses at petty costs. After the exodus, most of the houses were occupied by the militants and some were taken for government use by the government itself. The migrating pandits had to take shelter in the refugee camps. Even after nine months after the exodus, the condition of the refugee camps was so terrible that there were not even proper toilets in it.

Jagmohan Malhotra | Kashmir Life

Pic: Jagmohan Malhotra

The Jagmohan Theory

Jagmohan Malhotra served as the Governor of J&K and had an image of a development leader. He served as governor back in 1982 also and was reappointed now under the VP Singh government in 1990. He reached Jammu on 20th March 1982 and was not able to reach Kashmir due to bad weather. Also, it must be known that the capital used to shift between Jammu and Kashmir every 6 months (due to weather changes). Though he was getting the calls for help, he was away from the capital and the civil setup was completely collapsed, there was nothing that he could have done actually.

By March, refugee camps were already being set up. Jagmohan appealed on 7th March for Pandits not to leave the valley, but the situation had already got out of hand and the majority of the Pandits had migrated by then. There is a false claim stating that Jagmohan motivated the Pandits to leave the valley, but that was not the case. The Pandits as I said, just wanted to get out of the hell anyhow because of the ongoing situation.

Another controversy regarding Jagmohan was with the CURRENT magazine. It published a fake imaginary interview of Jagmohan where he was quoted saying “Every Kashmiri is a militant today and Bullet is the only solution”. The magazine got released on 26th January and created a lot of mess in the Parliament from the side of Congress which was in Opposition at that time. Jagmohan filed a defamation case against the magazine and eventually won the case. The editor of the magazine Ayyub Saeed had to apologise to Jagmohan.

Militancy in the Valley

Though, we just saw how militancy and terrorism increased in the valley around 1989-90. But, there is ample evidence that militancy started rising much earlier. There were incidents of attacks on the Pandits and Pandit houses being burned down in the early 1980s as well. Anti-Pandit riots were organized at Anantnag in 1986. In 1986 only, a Hanuman statue was thrown into the river and the temple was vandalized. Also, if we look at the data in 1971, there were 10% Kashmiri Pandits in the valley, which came down to 8% in 1981. Some atrocities and riots also happened before that. Also, there is a fake theory that Kashmiri Hindus were rich and prosperous while the Muslims were poor and that’s why their frustration broke out in form of violence. But the reality is that there were many prosperous Muslims as well, so this is an irrelevant theory. And even if that was somehow the case, it doesn’t lessen the catastrophe in any way.

How 30 Yrs Ago, Kashmiri Pandits Became Refugees in Their Own Home

Pic: Kashmir Pandits forced to leave their homes

The incompetence of the Government

Now, there is little doubt that whatever happened, the government being incompetent played a huge role in it. Yes, it is true that at the peak (1990), NO government could have been able to manage the situation. But, the main mistakes have been committed before that. Investigation Bureau (IB) was giving clear indications to the centre since the early 1980s. It sensed that Kashmiri youth is getting ideas and arms from outside the LOC border by the Pakistani militant organizations and there is a threat of rising militancy. But, no one in the government took the suggestions seriously back then.  There was a firing incident on a Hindu procession by CRPF and Policemen killing around 50 people. The man leading them was Al-ab-Ashq, the DIG of the Kashmir police. He was the brother of Taj Moinuddin, a top Congress leader. Despite that incident, no investigation or questioning took place, no accountability was fixed and he retired as DGP with no effect on his career.

Regarding Congress, neither was it able to present itself as a viable alternative in the valley and nor was it letting Farooq Abdullah rule it on his own, creating political instability. Any further scope of blunder was filled by Farooq himself by first removing the army and then resigning and fleeing the country. Not just that, the government was not even able to provide the migrants with proper refugee camps. Now, they all may not be Anti-National as many call them, but they were extremely INCOMPETENT for sure. Also, I ‘personally’ believe that the situation would have got prevented if INDIRA GANDHI would have been alive (though I am not a big fan of her).

The Kidnapping of Rubika Saeed

Now, came another incident that further shook and worsened the already fragile situation. On 8th December 1989, Rubika Mufti Saeed, the daughter of then home minister Mufti Mohammad Saeed was kidnapped by the terror outfits. The kidnappers demanded the release of 5 JKLF terrorists including Rashid Sheikh. He was the man behind the recent bombings and killings and his photo from the hospital with the Victory signal went viral. Many experts said that the government shouldn’t bend to the demands of terrorists. But that didn’t turn out to be the case and the demanded terrorists were released. Rubika Saeed was returned but after some panic due to delay. Farooq Abdullah has said multiple times, that he wasn’t in favour of the release of terrorists, but his opinion was undermined by that of Arif Mohammad Khan and Inder Kumar Gujral. It was not the only such incident, as many as 70 terrorists were released after several kidnappings. This lawlessness actually, further increased the confidence of the terrorists making them even more blatant.

Buy AB VAJPAYEE WITH VP SINGH Pictures, Images, Photos By India Today - Archival pictures

Pic: BJP and the National Front formed a Coalition at the centre in 1989

Questioning the Role of the BJP

Here, when we talk about the whole episode, we often forget or are made to ignore that when this whole situation was at its ‘Peak’, Congress was not at the centre. Now, I just described the incompetency of Congress above, but here the truth is that in 1989, the government was made with VP Singh’s National Front, BJP, Communist Party and other small parties, with Mufti Mohammad Saeed as the Home Minister. So, when the situation started escalating and tensions were rising, BJP was actually a part of the government. The question should also be asked from it where were the patriotic statements then? If BJP would have put pressure on the government, was the government in a position to ignore it? But, do you know what was BJP doing then? It was busy with the ‘Rath-Yatra’ and the ‘Ram Mandir’ movement. It thought that Ram Mandir will serve as the launching pad for the BJP, which it actually did. But, the thing is that BJP too ignored the Kashmiri Pandits for their own Vote Bank and political benefits. Also, when it is said that no one has rehabilitated Kashmir Pandits back in the last 32 years, it should be remembered that out of the 32, BJP has been in power for 14 years (last 8 years and 6 under Vajpayee Ji). So, before giving any crocodile tears filled lecture, BJP should also look into the mirror.

Why ISLAM was not the Villain

This whole story is presented in a way so as to create an image that Muslims and Islam were and are against the Hindus. Basically, an Anti-Muslim and Islamophobic narrative is floating. First of all, let me point out that the first political killing was of not a Kashmiri Pandit but of Mohammad Yusuf Halwai, leader of the National Conference. Also, the first big administrative officer to be attacked was GMA Watali, he survived but his brother and bodyguards got killed. Not just that many other big leaders like Maulana Masoodi and Sofi Akbar were killed by the terrorists. Abdul Ahad Guru…the ideologue of JKLF himself got killed by the terrorists.

The murder of All India Radio journalists Lassa Kaul and PN Handoo is talked about. But, it is less known that after terrorists stopped free media, some daring and honest journalists still tried to somehow propagate news and while doing that, they lost their lives. One of the daring names was Mohammad Shafi Bhatt. Not just that, many kidnappings of prominent names also took place. A casual artist Mohammad Ali Jaffar, newsreader Shamsuddin Ahmed, Abdul Ghani Lone’s daughter Shabnam Lone, Saifuddin Soz’s daughter Nahid Soz, Ghulam Nabi Azad’s nephew. These are only a few of the many names. And…many of these cases, only corpses were found with torture marks on the body.

Wait for it, the next name will shake off the land beneath your feet. In Kashmir, the head of Islam is called Mirwaiz. The then Mirwaiz objected and raised his voice against terrorism and called all this ‘Un-Islamic’. You know, what happened…he was gunned down. Not just that, even his procession was attacked leading to 50-100 deaths. Even Mirwaiz’s body was damaged and one of the dead bodies had 28 bullets in the body. Now, just tell me that if someone is killing the ‘Head of Islam’, then how the hell is his mission Islamic in the first place. This is a Blunt Lie. I have always and always said and believed that Terrorism has NO Religion.

Actually, it was all India v Terrorists, so whoever stood by India’s side was killed down, whether a Hindu or a Muslim. The terrorists have just used ‘Islam’ as their argument to fool everyone. It is clear that it was a Genocide that was targeted at the Kashmir Hindus and it was the Hindus only who had to migrate. And, Muslims were killed when they rose against the killings. Also, just think of it like that. If a huge chunk of terrorists is targeting and killing Hindus. Anyone raising the voice, even if a Muslim is being killed, then a huge majority of Muslims despite not being in support of terrorists will prefer to remain silent just so that at least they are not killed. But, that doesn’t mean that they all are terrorists or supported the killings, which many poisonous minds are trying to propagate indeed.

Slogans, swearing, the rare sensible take: We watched Kashmir Files at 3 NCR theatres

Pic: Cartoon Depicting the Aftermath of TKF Movie


Now, I have already been judged and trolled a lot for my opinion on the movie THE KASHMIR FILES. But, the truth is that this is not a movie but a PROPAGANDA and I can prove that. I gave plenty of examples that not one but many Muslims too were killed during this episode. But, what this movie does is present facts in an extremely ‘selective’ way. Now, he can give the counterargument that he can’t show everything in one movie. But that argument doesn’t stand up when you are showing the prominent deaths, why are you purposefully omitting names from one community. Showing HALF TRUTH is equal to showing a LIE. Especially, when you are carrying such a sensitive topic, as a filmmaker, it is your RESPONSIBILITY to check the message that is going out. So many movies have been made on Holocaust but not one makes the audience hate all the CHRISTIANS.

The Director has used every opportunity to demonise Muslims. The scene where a Muslim neighbour signals terrorists about the Pandit’s hiding place and the scene where an old Muslim man asks the widow Pandit for marriage. All these scenes somehow create the impression that ‘No Muslim is Trustworthy’. Also, the politics attached to the movie is too visible. The reason for them not even once mentioning the government which was at the centre and of which BJP was a part. Also, the way they have portrayed JNU, maybe they don’t know which university tops the NIRF rank. Even while showing the atrocities, they are presented in the most horrific way possible so that anger is overflowing inside the audience. After this, if someone will get out of the hall and see a Muslim in front of him, he will surely look at him with suspicious and angry eyes.

You can’t counter hate by spreading hate. The hate and provocative speeches that were given inside the cinema halls after this movie is an example of this. Now, I have just one question. If this was not what the makers of the movie intended and their vision was ‘pure’, then why the hell none of them have condemned these incidents. The answer is that this is exactly what they wanted to propagate…HATE. This is not the first time a propaganda film like this has been made. This trend of using movies to polarize and whitewash people against communities has been happening since the NAZI era and TKF has just carried that idea forward.

“At last, I am saying this on record that Mr Vivek Agnihotri, you are a pathetic person and you have made an even pathetic film…you have used someone’s atrocities just to fuel hatred between communities…you should be ASHAMED of yourself”. 

“See, whatever happened back then with the Kashmir Pandits, I completely accept that with folded hands and I have my deepest sympathy for them and I wish that could have been prevented. But, it doesn’t mean that we should be fuelling hatred against the whole Muslim community today.”






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