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January 19, 1990 did not happen in a day

Courtesy: Sri Dibyendu Saha

Rewrite- Sri Niharan Proharan

Farooq Abdullah government kept releasing dreaded terrorists – almost 70 of them between July to November 1989.
The Kashmiri Pandits were sitting ducks waiting to be murdered.

Prominent Kashmiri Pandits were already being targeted and killed.

BJP leader and prominent social activist Tika Lal Taploo was killed in broad day light in down town Sringar.

Justice Nilakanth Ganjoo was gunned down and it took hours for his body to be picked up from the road.

Advocate Prem Nath Bhat was brutally killed in Anantnag area of South Kashmir. Many more not so well known were killed.

On January 4, 1990, Aftab published a press release of Hizbul Mujahideen asking all Hindus to leave. Another newspaper Al-Safa published the same press release. Soon notices to leave were pasted on the doors of Pandits.

There was just one cry. The one to drive away Pandits.

Lacs of adrenalin pumped Kashmiris, marched into the streets of the Valley shouting slogans never heard before. Mosques all over Kashmir blared out loud that Kashmir was to become Pakistan. Songs eulogising the Mujahideen were played over and over again.

Jago Jago Subah Huyee; Rus ne Baazi Haari Hain, Hind par larzaan tare hain, Ab Kashmir ki baaree hain

(Wake up, Russia has fallen and India eyes defeat, It is the turn of Kashmir to be freed.)

Hum Kya Chahte Azadi… (We want freedom)

Azzadi Ka Matlab Kya, La Illah Il lallah (Freedom means La Illah Il Laalh)

Agar Kashmir Main Rehna Hoga, Allah-u-Akbar Kehna Hoga (If you want to live in Kashmir, you have to say Allah-u-Akbar)

Ae Zalimo Ae Kafiro, Kashmir Hamara (Chod Do Oh Cruel people, you the Kafirs, Leave our Kashmir)

Yahan kya Chalega Nizam-e-Mustafa…

We want Kashmir to become Pakistan without Pandit men but with their women.

It was this last slogan that terrified Kashmiri Pandits more than the fear of imminent death.

The message was loud and clear. Raliv Galiv ya Chaliv – Join us, Die or Flee.

Most Kashmiri Pandits started packing whatever little they could under the given circumstances and started fleeing to save their honour and lives. People fled in whatever they could. They hid under canvas covers of trucks, left in buses, hired taxis. The exodus had started. The government, intelligentsia, the seculars, the conscience keepers of this nation – all had gone to sleep. No one even talked about it.

Most brutal forms of torture from gouging out of eyes, to cutting genitals, to burning bodies with cigarette butts and even chopping off body parts were used to kill Pandits.

Sarwanand Kaul Premi, a noted scholar had nails were hammered in place of his tilak.

BK Ganjoo was killed in his home and his wife was asked to eat the rice soaked in his blood.

Sarla Bhat a nurse was gangraped before being killed and her naked body was thrown on the street.

The killers of Ravinder Pandita of Mattan danced over his body.

The bodies of Brijlal and Choti were tied to a jeep in Shopian and dragged for 10 km.

Girja Tikoo, a school teacher in Bandipora, was gangraped before being killed.

A notorious terrorist named Bitta Karate alone killed more than 20 Pandits and had no shame accepting the same. JKLF was responsible for almost all the killings in 1990. More than a thousand Pandits were killed, tortured and raped.

The exodus meanwhile carried on.

By 1991, most Pandits had fled the valley.

The process of ethnic cleansing continued in Kashmir with terrorists and a lot of Kashmiri Muslim population burning and desecrating shrines and temples of Hindu worship. Looting and arson took place in abandon. Thousands of Pandit homes, hundreds of temples were burnt and razed to ground. The land was later encroached upon. All this was happening in a multicultural, secular India but the secularists did not seem bothered.

But the Pakistan backed terrorists weren’t done yet. Their insatiable appetite for killings wasn’t satiated yet. More Pandits were to be killed. Seven massacres were inflicted on the hapless community. The terrorists did not even spare two-month old kids. Entire villages of Pandits were wiped off. Yet not a tear was shed, not an award returned, no protest marches taken out, no press statements came from film stars condemning the killing of an entire race.

As we stand today, not one person has been convicted, leave alone punished for the killing of more than a thousand Kashmiri Pandits.

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