A Letter – To Those Who Know Not And Those Who Choose Not To
Dear Anonymous Twitter User,
Am writing this letter (as promised) to share my history, which you either genuinely do not know or are pretending not to know. Your response to this article made me realise that in the last 27 years, much water has flown down the Vitasta and that with Kashmiri Pandits, the last remaining proponents of Kashmiriyat, out of Kashmir, what must things be like for the kids there!
Are you aware that Kashmir has been ravaged by Islamic invaders since the 14th century CE who altered both its religious composition and culture? Do you know that the aborigines (Kashmiri Pandits) bore the brunt and were reduced to a minuscule minority? Did anyone tell you that torture,conversions and genocide carried out, through the three choices of convert, die or flee, aimed at ethnic cleansing, have led to seven exoduses of the Kashmiri Hindus from Kashmir, till date.
Our limited interaction drives me to share what I know, from my own experience. I was born and raised there before Islamists started targeting the Kashmiri Pandits,who like other Hindus, have always been truly secular with a progressive and liberal outlook. There is hardly any other community that has suffered so much on account of their faith, primarily because of their dedicated commitment to their motherland India and its unity. Did you know that the Jihadi, anti-Indian segment of Kashmiri population would term them ‘Indian Agents’ and ‘Indian Dogs’? The community was a thorn in the Islamist flesh, for, as long as they remained, complete Islamisation was a pipe dream. The removal of Hindus from the Valley was meant to dent India’s credibility and strengthen the demand for Independence, making it easy for their Pakistani masters to avenge the defeat of 1971. A Kashmir without Hindus meant no psychological or nationalistic ties between the Indian State and Kashmir.
Were you told about the Pandit houses and shops that were ransacked, set on fire or forcibly acquired so as to ensure that no trace of the aborigines remained? Are you aware of the Pandits whose land was acquired by the State government for projects without proper compensation, usurped by neighbours by tampering with revenue records or simply purchased at throwaway prices. Had you been aware, you would not have made the inane remarks that you did, I am sure!
If you ever find time from your busy schedule of pelting stones and attributing even natural deaths to our forces, please try to read Kalhana’s Rajtarangini, one of the most authentic sources of Kashmir’s history which talks about the dominance of Hinduism and Buddhism in the valley with its myriad Tirthas. And then wonder about the population of the Valley metamorphosing from almost completely Hindu to almost completely Muslim within a span of 5 centuries. It might give you an idea about the vicious cycle, of violence, genocide and religious persecution of Hindus, sectarian violence among Muslims and similar strife, that has kept this ‘Paradise on Earth’ burning from ages. And then you might get to know that the Kashmiri Pandit community has faced ethnic cleansing through planned genocide at the hands of Islamists seven times. Yes, seven times!
A careful study might educate you about the multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-lingual nature of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. When India gained Independence in 1947, the population in the valley consisted of a Muslim majority, with Kashmiri Pandits representing the token Hindus. This might help you deduce that Kashmiri Muslims are largely the descendants of the aborigines (Bhattas), who were subject to forced or voluntary proselytisation during the earlier six exoduses. Perhaps then the peculiarity about people referring to themselves as Syeds or Geelanis or both might flummox you!
Your animosity towards the Kashmiri Pandits might change when you realise that the ones who escaped persecution in the earlier six exoduses tried their utmost to stay true to their Hindu rituals and customs, based on Kashmiri Shivaism’s Trika (three-fold) philosophy. But the seclusion and isolation enforced by the geography and climate ensured that awareness about them, among the rest of the Hindus across India, remained almost negligible.The cultivation of and emphasis on a distinct identity, due to years of persecution and oppression, inadvertently set them apart from the other Hindus, much to their misery! And you know what? Since Kashmiri Pandits have never been good at (what is termed as) “Oppression Olympics”, they ended up being less understood and empathised with, by the rest of their own co-religionists! Oppression Olympics, incidentally, is what the Islamofascist Azaadi Jihadis excel in.Trying to portray themselves as perpetual victims, instead of making something significant of their lives, and leaving a better impact on society and humanity, has been their forte! Mercifully, with awareness setting in, there has been a gradual thawing of the indifference towards Pandits and that is why I see your vociferous lies not finding too many takers.
You spoke about innocents losing their sight and being injured in incidents of stone-pelting. Please note, once and for all, that any innocent suffering anywhere moves any person, unless he is a Jihadi Islamofascist , which I, most assuredly, am not! And while we are at the topic of innocents, let me introduce you to some names. Yes, names! Sadly that’s who they are now, for, these living, breathing people were done to death by Islamofascists in the 90’s.
Prabhavati ,Tika Lal Taploo ,Neelkantha Ganjoo,Sheela Koul (Tikoo), Ajay Kapoor, Prem Nath Bhatt, M.L. Bhan, Baldev Raj Dutta, Squadron Leader Ravi Khanna, Krishen Gopal Berwa, Romesh Kumar Thussu, Satish Kumar Tickoo, Lassa Kaul ,Rattan Lal Anil Bhan, Ashok Kazi ,Naveen Sapru , P N Handoo ,Tej Kishen ,RN Handoo, ,B K Ganju, A K Raina,H. L. Khera, Sarla Bhat, Bansi Lal Sapru , Ravinder Kumar Pandita ,Brij Nath Shah, ,Shyam Lal ,KL Ganju,Surinder Kumar Raina , Ashok Kumar,Veer Ji Bhat, Bushan Lal Koul,Manmohan Bachloo, Dilip Kumar,Prem Nath ,Girija Tickoo ,Ashwani Kumar ,Balkrishen Tutoo, Makhan Lal Raina,,Raj Nath Dhar, Gopi Nath Raina, ,Shiban Kishen Koul, Radha Krishen Koul , Autar Singh,,Babli Raina ,Chand Ji Kher, ,DP Khazanchi, Zinda Lal Pandita, ,Jagan Nath Pandita, ,Pushker Nath Razdan,,Maheshwar Nath Bhat, ,Omkar Nath Wali, Asha Koul ,Surinder Kumar Koul ,Kanya Lal ,Bimla Braroo ,Ashwani Garyali ,Rajinder Tickoo,Brij lal Kaul , Chhoti Kaul, Mohammad Yousuf Halwai ,Mohammad Shahban, Shamima Parveen,Mustafa Mir,.
These are just some of the Kashmiri Pandits, pro-India Muslims and other minorities who were killed for being opposed to the Pakistan supported, Jihadist crusade launched by the rabid Islamists in Kashmir. And you know what? There was inhuman complicity by hospitals as injured Kashmiri Pandits were allowed to die by doctors colluding with the terrorists. Do ask your elders about the killers denying a proper cremation to the killed according to Hindu rites.The dead bodies had to be disposed off by police.
You won’t find this information on Twitter. To know the truth ,you will have to read and ask around!
What might shock you is that the then state government acted helpless in the face of abductions, kidnappings, assault on womenfolk, torture and other gruesome forms of assassinations. And you should know that perpetrators in these cases were local Kashmiri Muslims belonging to JKLF and not just Pakistani terrorists.The poignant irony is that the killers in many cases were childhood friends and lifelong neighbours.
Kashmiri Pandits could have been provided with some security by the state government in places where their population was larger, yet no such efforts were made.The administrative machinery showed apathy and indifference, even as hordes of Kashmiri Pandits left the valley.The threat letters, death warrants, hit lists continued unabated and it seemed that the law-enforcing agencies and the terrorists were acting in cahoots with each other. The subverted police, conniving local administration, local media governed by terrorists, apologetic national media covering-up the genocide, and the central government turning a blind eye to it all, gave those terrorists a free rein.
One of the most ludicrous attempts at whitewashing the exodus has been to covertly imply blame on the then Governor Jagmohan. Once you genuinely start researching, you will wonder about someone, not even physically being present in Srinagar, managing such a Herculean feat in those days of telegrams and hardly any landlines! Do ask your elders if he was around when the mosques were baying for the blood of Kashmiri Pandits and declared their intention of creating Pakistan without Kashmiri Pandit Men but with Kashmiri Pandit Women. They might not give you a clear answer , but I will.
The Seventh Exodus was the brutally victimised minority community’s instinct for survival amidst indiscriminate rapes, torture and killings of their fellow community members. They had direct threats with hit lists created and spread almost everywhere.Only a masochist would have thought of staying put in such a scenario, especially, as friends and neighbours of years suddenly turned into strangers, indifferent onlookers or wilful collaborators of the fundamentalists. With neither the state nor the central government taking responsibility for the security of the hapless community, exodus was the final and only resort for survival. It was not in the least encouraged or facilitated by the state administration or the then Governor as is being peddled, across the media, by a guilt-laden majority community and the globally ostracised separatists in the post 9/11 world.
You said that the Media doesn’t talk about you . This is not true,for, ISI’s propaganda machinery and its handling of the media contributed immensely to the worsening situation in the Valley. All these years, the entire press, both Indian and foreign, have been carrying one-sided stories and even suppress those which were not sympathetic to the separatists. More importantly, they have suppressed even the news of violence against Kashmiri Pandits, leading to their ethnic cleansing from the Valley. Even now, many local and national journalists have been stoking the fires by drumming up a solitary alternate narrative of difficulties faced by the majority community in the Valley. This inaccurate account, which makes no mention of the terror inflicted by the ‘innocent, paid stone-pelters’ hurling acid bombs or throwing an innocent in the river, tries hard to provide some legitimacy to the Islamofascist movement for peddling across various national and international fora in order to garner more spotlight for the separatist cause. Anyone with a modicum of common sense can see through the current concerted efforts to obliterate the one incriminating piece of evidence pointing at the complicity of locals in the enemy country’s proxy war of terror. With Kashmir Pandits out of the picture, it becomes easy to peddle the biased narrative around ‘Indian Occupation’. The prevention of the Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley dents the very ‘idea of India’ and we have seen subsequent apologetic and indifferent Governments at the Centre choosing to underplay or ignore this only instance of ethnic cleansing in the history of India.
Now that you are aware about how the Pandits did not voluntarily ‘leave the Valley and left you to suffer’ as you have grown up believing, let’s destroy another myth!
The Pandits did not leave a life of misery into the lap of luxury! The tragedy is that even as these petrified people were leaving through whatever mode of transportation they could manage, the indifferent truck drivers and taxi owners thought nothing about fleecing the fleeing victims, later labelled as “refugees” and “migrants” in their own country.These homeless people found shelter in tents or in low cost, hastily made available rented accommodation in Jammu, Delhi and elsewhere. You have been living in your own land in the familiar comfort of your own home. Hope you realise that the refugee camps set up in inhospitable conditions housed thousands of families and made lives even more miserable for the Pandits as they were not in the least used to the hot climes of the rest of India.The heat was unbearable and water and sanitation non-existent.
You must surely know by now that Kashmiri Pandits had homes in Srinagar and other districts and more than often than not, these were double-storied structures (at the least) with a garden at the back and the front. Pandits in the rural districts owned orchards and would earn their livelihood from there. The entire community was literate.Many renowned and respected teachers, doctors, engineers, advocates, judges, activists, social workers came from the community. Thus, their financial stability and security in Kashmir were not in doubt. How humiliating must it have been for an already tormented individual to live with an entire clan in either a refugee camp or in a one room tenement, is something you might want to think about!
Most people, including my family, left with just the clothes on and practically lost everything. To add to their woes, their language, food habits, commonly worn attire were ill-suited to the extreme weather. To be honest, they were literally like fish out of water, for, the psychological trauma, financial worries, emotional stress, cultural shock,somewhat indifference of fellow Indians combined with insecurities about their future made life extremely difficult. A lot of elderly people perished to the vagaries of the sudden misfortune, the weather, depression, dehydration, scorpion stings and snake bites in the squalid tents. Stress caused by the turmoil led to a lot of hitherto uncommon ailments in the community. Heart ailments, Stress Diabetes, Depression reached epidemic proportions. Don’t believe me? Just research and you will know about the pioneering work on ‘Stress diabetes in Kashmiri Migrants’, by the renowned Diabetologist and Union Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh, which has been hailed by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Life was not a bed of roses for persecuted Pandits whose killers were hardly ever prosecuted! With nothing to fall back upon, an entire generation showed tremendous resilience and devoted their lives towards providing education to their progeny so as to secure their future. The once prosperous and proud community was reduced to living in near penury, depending on the bare minimum ration provided by the Government.
In the last 27 years, a number of Kashmiri Pandit children have grown up without even seeing the land of their ancestors. A vital part of the country’s heritage is almost gone and it is such a shame that nobody seems to care! The cruel irony is that the community is not considered to be a minority despite being one numerically. That a vast majority of the country has been ignorant about Seventh Kashmiri Pandit Exodus that happened in 1990 makes it a double whammy!
When I politely asked you to break the shackles of indoctrination and educate yourself to find the truth on your own, I did it in all seriousness. It is apparent to me that you have been looking at things from just one perspective and hence my well-meaning suggestion. Please know that besides the separatists and their self-serving designs, you have to brave the vested interests among your intelligentsia who enjoy unbridled, unlimited access to the echelons of power in India. Both these groups of people do not want to implement any policies for genuine peace to prevail in the valley.
I would urge you to generate and raise awareness to act as a catalyst. Yours is the task to amplify the saner voices in Kashmir! The voices that chose to be subdued in the last 27 years! A fresh start would be for you to comprehend the fact that the seventh exodus of Kashmiri Pandits was engineered by the majority community in the vain hope that the elusive Azaadi was around the corner.
On this Eid, I send you my greetings with the message that the path to perpetual peace can only be paved by healing hearts on all sides.The first step would be an honest acknowledgement and contrite acceptance of the seventh Kashmiri Pandit Exodus in 1990!
Eid Mubarak! Jai Hind!
A Proud Indian (Kashmiri)
This post of mine was earlier published here
P.S. This post was penned on the occasion of Eid, last year, after a seemingly ignorant (about Kashmir History) twitter user from Kashmir shared contrived history and made me ponder about what was being fed to the younger generation there.