19 January 1990 is a black day for Democratic India. This night more than Five lakh Kashmiri Pandits left their ancestral homes under Threat of Convert, Leave or Die. This was not sudden, it had been building up for years, peaking in 1989-1990. Murders of prominent Kashmiri Pandits like Justice Ganjoo, Public brutal murders of many Pandits, rapes of their women-with the state standing helplessly by and the rest of India totally in a stupor- totally unaware of this hideous genocide and events leading up to the shameful exodus of a peaceful, learned, gentle, ancient minority of Kashmiri Pandits from the land which they had lived in for 5000 years and more. What happened that shameful night, when citizens of India were stripped of their fundamental rights to live safely and in a dignified manner in their homes, Fundamental Right to practice their religion, fundamental right of preserving their language and script? Where was the Indian State- why was this never a headline? Why were the Abdullah’s and the Gandhi’s let off for their role/responsibility in this event? Why this event was consigned to a Blackhole with one Odd show to somehow prove Media is neutral in recent years after advent of SM.
Every citizen needs to know about this exodus, every citizen needs to know how a peaceful community was forced by threat of Convert, Leave or Die, How a community was left undefended by Police, law and administration-where Mosques blared out the threats, where Gun Wielding Jehadis murdered, raped, tortured dissenting Kashmiri Pandits and refused the bodies to be cremated- to create the atmosphere of terror.
Where was the Media? Complicit in its silence? Never asking questions? Some even attempting to ‘Rationalise’ it?
These questions need to be asked. The issue needs to be center stage in national discourse. This was the 7 th Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. The previous 6 exodus were under Islamic rule. The 7th was in Republic of India-a free nation
After the previous exoduses, Kashmiri Pandits still managed to live in the valley and maintain roots. This exodus is the most vicious and complete.
Kashmir is an Integral Part of Hinduism and Buddhism. Till 1339 it was a totally Hindu Kingdom. Sikander Butshikan started conversions and breaking down of Hindu and Buddhist places of worship. Panini, Patanjali, Abhinavgupt were towering sages who lived here and wrote their great works. Adi Shankaracharya visited the Sharada University and set up a temple on Shankaracharya hill. Women of Kashmir were highly educated and empowered. Kashmir is the abode of Goddess Saraswati.
In the past Maharaja Ranjit Singh attacked the Afghans to safeguard Kashmiri Pandits. Guru Tegh Bahadur gave his life, his Sheesh (head) to protect Kashmiri Pandits from forceful conversion by Aurangzeb. But all the safeguards in the Constitution could not prevent the Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in a free and Independant India.
On this exodus day let us all resolve to know more about Kashmir. True knowledge will destroy all the fake narratives built around Kashmir.
Picture Credit: Wikipedia