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Brief Details about forcable conversion and En Mass Migrations of Kashmiri Pandits from their Homeland.....
Autar Krishan Trisal2/8/2019 11:12:48 PM
The year of 1984 saw a pronounced rise in militant violence in Kashmir. When militant of Kashmir Liberation Front, Maqbool Bhat was executed in February 1984, strikes and protests by Kashmiri nationalists broke out in the region, where large number of Kashmiri youth participated in widespread anti-India demonstrations, which faced heavy handed reprisals by Indian state forces. Critics of the then Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah, charged that Abdullah was losing control. His visit to Pakistan administered Kashmir during then became an embarrassment, where according to Hashim Qureshi, he shared a platform with Kashmir Liberation Front. Though Abdullah asserted that he went on behalf of Indira Gandhi and his father, so that sentiments there could "be known first hand", few people believed him. There were also allegations that he had allowed Khalistan militant groups to train in Jammu province, although those allegations were never proved. On July 2, 1984, Ghulam Mohammad Shah, who had support from Indira Gandhi, replaced his brother-in-law Farooq Abdullah and became the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, after Abdullah was dismissed, in what is termed as a political "coup". Shah's administration, which did not have people's mandate, turned to Islamists and opponents of India, notably the Molvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari, Mohammad Shafi Qureshi and Mohinuddin Salati, to gain some legitimacy through religious sentiments. This gave political space to Islamists who previously lost overwhelmingly in the 1983 state elections. In 1986, Shah decided to construct a large mosque, Shah Masjid within the premises of an ancient Hindu temple inside the New Civil Secretariat area in Jammu. Many people of Jammu took to streets to protest with large demonstrations and marches against this decision. Gul Shah on his return to Kashmir retaliated and incited the Kashmiri Muslims by saying Islam khatrey mein hey (trans. Islam is in danger). As a result, Kashmiri Pandits were targeted by the Kashmiri Muslims. Many incidents were reported in various areas where Kashmiri Hindus were killed and their properties and temples damaged or destroyed. The worst hit areas were mainly in South Kashmir and Sopore. In Vanpoh, Lukbhavan, Anantnag, Salar and Fatehpur, Muslim mobs plundered or destroyed the properties and temples of Hindus. During the Anantnag riot in February 1986, although no Hindu was killed, many houses and other properties belonging to Hindus were looted, burnt or damaged. An investigation of Anantnag riots revealed that members of the 'secular parties' in the state, rather than the Islamists, had played a key role in organising the violence to gain political mileage through religious sentiments. Many Hindus left the Kashmir valley as a result due to the prevailing situation in Kashmir. Shah called in the army to curb the violence, but it had little effect. His government was dismissed on March 12, 1986, by the then Governor Jagmohan following communal riots in south Kashmir. Jagmohan, who began ruling the state directly had implemented some Hindu-nationalist policies which gained momentum for the Islamists of the valley who exploited those policies and defied them. The political fight was hence being portrayed as a conflict between "Hindu" New Delhi (Central Government), and its efforts to impose its will in the state, and "Muslim" Kashmir, represented by political Islamists and clerics.
The Islamists had organised under a banner named Muslim United Front, with manifesto to work for Islamic unity and against political interference from the centre, and contested the 1987 state elections, in which they lost again. However, the 1987 elections were widely believed to be rigged so as to bring the secular parties (NC and INC) in Kashmir at the forefront, and this caused the insurgency in Kashmir. The Kashmiri militants killed anyone who openly expressed pro-India policies. Kashmiri Pandits were targeted specifically because they were seen as presenting Indian presence in Kashmir because of their faith. Though the insurgency had been launched by JKLF, groups rose over the next few months advocating for establishment of Nizam-e-Mustafa. The Islamist groups proclaimed the Islamicisation of socio-political and economic set-up, merger with Pakistan, unification of ummah and establishment of an Islamic Caliphate. Liquidation of central government officials, Pandits, liberal and nationalist intellectuals, social and cultural activists was described as necessary to rid the valley of un-Islamic elements. The relations among the semi-secular and Islamists groups were generally poor and often hostile. The JKLF had also utilized Islamic formulations in its mobilization strategies and public discourse, using Islam and independence interchangeably. It demanded equal rights for everyone however this had a distinct Islamic flavor as it sought to establish an Islamic democracy, protection of minority rights per Quran and Sunnah and an economy of Islamic socialism. Its politicial practices at times deviated from its stated secular position.
In July 1988, the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front began a separatist insurgency for independence of Kashmir from IndiaThe group targeted a Kashmiri Hindu for the first time on September 14, 1989, when they killed Pandit Tika Lal Taploo, an advocate and a prominent leader of Bharatiya Janata Party in Jammu & Kashmir in front of several eyewitnesses. This instilled fear in the Kashmiri Pandit community especially as Taploo's killers were never caught which also emboldened the terrorists. The Pandits felt that they weren't safe in the valley and could be targeted any time. The killings of Kashmiri Hindus continued including that of many prominent ones. On January 4, 1990, a local Urdu newspaper, Aftab, published a press release issued by Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, asking all Pandits to leave the Valley immediately. Another local paper, Al Safa, repeats this expulsion order. Explosive and inflammatory speeches being broadcast from the public address systems of the mosques became frequent. The sense of vulnerabity and insecurity was excabberated by attacks on prominent Hindu politicians, postings of hit lists with names of specific Hindu individuals and various violent episodes in Srinagar and other places.
In order to undermine his political rival Farooq Abdullah who at that time was the Chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, the Minister of Home Affairs Mufti Mohammad Sayeed convinced Prime Minister V.P. Singh to appoint Jagmohan as the governor of the state. Abdullah resented Jagmohan who had been appointed as the governor earlier in April 1984 as well and had recommended Abdullah's dismissal to Rajiv Gandhi in July 1984. Mufti was convinced that such a move will irritate Abdullah and make him quit. Abdullah had earlier declared that he would resign if Jagmohan was made the Governor. However, the Central government went ahead and appointed him as Governor on 19 January 1990. In response, Abdullah resigned on the same day and Jagmohan suggested the dissolution of the State Assembly. On 21 January 1990, two days after Jagmohan took over as governor, the Gaw kadal massacre took place in Srinagar, in which the Indian security forces had opened fire on protesters, leading to the death of at least 50 people, and likely over 100. These events led to chaos. Lawlessness took over the valley and the crowd with slogans and guns started roaming around the streets. News kept coming of violent incidents and those Hindus who survived the night saved their lives by traveling out of the valley.
Most of the Kashmiri Hindus left Kashmir valley and moved to other parts of the country, majorly to the refugee camps in Jammu region of the state.
Scholar Mridu Rai says, there is no evidence of denial of humanity by Kashmiri Muslims to Pandits during the exodus. Several separatist leaders, militants and Kashmiri Muslims allege that the exodus was a willful political decision engineered through government support provided by Governor Jagmohan's administration, in order to defame the separatist movement Scholars refute this argument, saying that it is unsubstantiated, and that its extremely difficult to believe, 'political encouragement' was the sole reason for the departure of such large numbers. They assert that the Kashmiri Pandits had felt a distinct threat to their safety during exodus. However they also state that there is the failure of Jagmohan's administration in discouraging or preventing the exodus, which additionally contributed to the Pandits' departure. The JKLF is stated to have been the main force behind it with involvement of many of its cadre in killings of Pandits]The Hizb-ul-Mujahideen too is stated to have played a vital role in the exodus.
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