The exodus of Kashmiri Pandits began with the advent of militancy in the valley. The situation was grim for them but the events occurred in January 1990 were brutal and they had resulted in Pandits escaping the state to save their lives.
Who are Kashmiri Pandits?
Kashmiri Pandits or Kashmiri Brahmins are Brahmin community native to the mountainous state of Jammu and Kashmir. They are the only remaining native Hindu community of the state. Mughal Emperor Akbar had given the community the title of Pandits as he considered them intelligent. A small number of Kashmiri pandits converted to Islam. Many migrated to other places during this period.
Three categories of Kashmiris are there–Banmasi, Malmasi and Buhirs. Pandits who migrated to other parts during the rule of Muslim rulers and returned later are called Banmasi. Those who stayed back are called Malmasi and those who started doing business are called Buhirs.
What was their strength in J&K
Kashmiri Pandits had constituted 20 percent of the population. However, by 1981, the population fell to 5 per cent.
The exodus of Kashmiri Pandits began with the advent of militancy in the valley. The situation was grim for them but the events occurred in January 1990 were brutal and they had resulted in Pandits escaping the state to save their lives. According to an article in Rediff.com, on January 4, 1990, a local newspaper had published a press release issued by Hizb-ul Mujahideen. The group had urged young people to wage jihad for secession from India and accession to Pakistan. The release had also ordered Hindus to leave the valley.
After this, a campaign to incite the Muslim population was carried out. Reports of Kashmiri Pandits being killed had started to come out. Inflammatory speeches were made from loudspeakers of mosques. Posters were stuck on the houses and shops of Kashmiri Pandits ordering them to either embrace Islam or leave the valley. They were threatened with their lives.
What happened on January 19, 1990
A curfew was imposed by the then governor, Jagmohan after he had dismissed the state government. Militant groups JKLF and Hizb-ul Mujahideen were exhorting people to defy the curfew.
Inflammatory slogans were relayed from mosques all day long. One of them said: ‘Kashmi mei agar rehna hai, Allah-O-Akbar Kehna hai’.
Preceding January 19, more than 300 Kashmiri Pandits were killed. Many noted personalities were among them. Many women were abducted and raped. The Kashmiri Pandits had to escape from the valley to refugee camps in Jammu and Delhi.
How many escaped ?
The number of Kashmiri Pandits who had run off is estimated to be between 1 lakh to 3 lakh. The Jammu and Kashmir government in 2010 said around 808 Pandit families still reside in the valley. Till October 2015, only 1 Kashmiri Pandit returned. After UPA government’s financial package to aid Kashmiri Pandits, 1,800 Kashmiri Pandits have returned.
What is the present situation
Jammu and Kashmir Assembly today unanimously passed a resolution for creating a conducive atmosphere for the return of Kashmiri Pandits and other migrants to the Valley.
Soon after the House met in the morning, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the Assembly should pass a resolution for the return of Kashmiri Pandits and other migrants, rising above party politics.