Table of Contents
   Index
   Secessionist Movements
- Article 370
- Interim Government
- The Plebiscite Front
   Muslim Militancy
- The Gathering Storm
- War of Attrition
   Disinformation Compaign
- Political Alienation
- Muslim Precedence
- Economics of Militancy
   Genocide of Hindus
- The Minorities
- Quit Kashmir
- Darkness at Noon
- The Exodus
- Ethnic Cleansing
   Search for Refuge
- Leave Salary
- Scorched Earth
   Book in pdf format  

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Matrimonial

 
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Chapter 4
Genocide of Hindus

THE EXODUS

A widespread and vicious campaign of vilification was launched against the Hindus of Kashmir for their exodus from the valley. The secularists, the leftists and the human rights activists, who had, during the four decades of Indian freedom laboured for different commitments and the renegades and mercenaries, who had served the British with equal servility, levelled false accusations against the Hindus, to cover the ugly face of the Muslim communalism and separatist violence in the State. Concerted efforts were made to shift the blame from where it belonged. A propaganda war was unleashed against the Hindus in Kashmir to prove that: 
  • the Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir bore no ill will to their Hindu brethren, whom they had protected from the invading tribesmen of Pakistan in 1947, and whom they had shown the utmost of tolerance and forbearance inspite of the repeated provocations they had received from the Hindu communalists inside the State and in India; 
  • the Muslims did not pose any threat to the Hindus in Kashmir and whatever the intensity of the violence by the Muslim militant organisatons, inducted into the State, the deaths and assassinations of the Hindus were only incidental to the crusade for the liberation of the Muslims; 
  • the three lakhs of the Hindus in Kashmir, one and all, had entered into 3 secret conspiracy with Jagmohan, to evacuate the valley to enable the Governor and the Indian forces to obliterate the Muslims; 
  • the Hindus in Kashmir had evacuated from Kashmir in search of "greener pastures in India" and better prospects under the cover of militancy; 
  • the Hindus in Kashmir had evacuated because of their "threat perceptions" which did not necessarily correspond to the "real threat" posed to their life and security. 
The whole vilification campaign was a motivated propaganda, intended to provide cover to the communal, fundamentalist and separatist outlook of the Muslims in the only Muslim majority State in India. The Hindus, not only in Kashmir, but all over the Jammu and Kashmir State, had been used as scapegoats for the failure of the Indian leaders to contain Muslim communalism and separatism in the State. In 1947, the Muslims sued for peace with the invading hordes of Pakistan, which descended on the valley and the only resistance the invading armies faced, was offered by the dilapidated elements of the Dogra army, which fought the advancing enemy with their bare teeth. Thirty eight thousand Hindus and Sikhs were massacred by the invaders in the territories overrun by them. Twelve thousand Hindus including Kashmiri Pandits, perished in the town of Rajouri alone. It is little known that the Muslim troops of the Dogra army, almost half of its strength, deserted and fraternised with the enemy and put themselves in the vanguard of the invasion 

Nor did the Muslims show any consideration for the secular values which Nehru argued with them, formed the basis of the Indian Constitution. The exclusion of the State from the Indian constitutional organisation was foisted on the Congress by the leadership of the National Conference, to Muslimise the State, and convert it into a separate Muslim polity, which India undertook to protect from external attack. As the conflict between the secular organisation of Indian democracy and the Muslimisation of the State came to a head, the National Conference leadership joined Pakistan to demand a plebiscite. The movement for plebiscite continued for twenty-two years till 1975. The Hindus in the State, more specifically in Kashmir, bore the brunt of the Muslim separatism all along the years, the movement for plebiscite raged in the State. With the Congress-Front accord in 1975, the Congress leaders handed over the whip to the Front leaders, who used it to destroy the Hindus and those who had opposed them in their fight against India. After 1975, the recruitment of the Hindus in Kashmir to the services in the State, was reduced to an average of l.8 percent, the rest being reserved for the Muslims. The traditional tolerance of the Muslim majority in the State had sharper edges, which always cut the Hindus deeper. An unwritten covenant operated to dislodge the Hindus from their homes, their lands and their professions. In 1990, the process of the ethnic cleansing of the Hindus was completed. 

The Kashmiri Hindus and Jagmohan along with the Indian Security Forces were the victims of a conspiracy which had international ramifications. Who was where in this conspiracy will be revealed by future history? It is inconceivable that around three lakhs of people would have lifted themselves out of their homes, leaving behind their property and lands, means of livelihood and their temples, on the bidding of Jagmohan, paid thousands of rupees for being ferried across the Bannihal, and landed in the wilderness of exile. The exodus spread over a year from December 1989, to the end of 1990. The Congress leaders, run- away renegades among them, the neo-left leaders and the free market reformists were so blinded by their sense of self-righteousness, that they refused to pause for just a while and ponder on whether a whole community would have suddenly run wild and flung themselves into the oblivion. 

Hindus in Kashmir constituted a self-contained class of people who lived at low levels of income compared to the lowest fringes of the powerful and affluent Muslim middle class. Most of them owned their houses, with only 6% of their families living in rented quarters. Most of the houses had small and large compounds which were traditionally considered to be a necessity in Kashmir. In the villages as well, where they mostly lived on small agricultural holdings and orchards, they owned their own houses, kitchen gardens, rared livestock, mainly cattle, and generally earned additional income from professional services, like dispensing medicine, teaching, book-keeping etc. A sizeable section of the community worked as wage earners, domestic servants, and errand-boys. 

The Hindus of Kashmir had a rich cultural heritage. They possessed numerous religious endowments and shrines and ancient temples built during the reign of the Hindu monarchs. There were many famous centres of religious pilgrimage like the Amar Nath Cave, Kheer Bhawani shrine on the outskirts of the Srinagar city, the Sun Temple at Martand, Mattan, the Sharika Temple on the flank of the Hari Parvat hill and the Gangabal shrine, considered to be as sacred by the Hindus in Kashmir, as the Ganges. The religious endowments were once rich and prosperous and held in their possession Maufi and Mukharari lands, enough to meet their expenses. Much of the land attached to the temple shrines and religious endowments was nibbled away by the Muslim partisans with the connivance of the State administration under the cover of the land reform legislation which exempted religious endowments from its operation. 

Like the other tradition bound, endogamous and native peoples, the Hindus, with an incredibly long history, extending into pre-historic, proto- Aryan, latter stone age culture, formed an inseparable part of the cultural identity of Kashmir and its personality. Because of their endocrine cultural patterns, local ritual structures blended with the Vedic religious precept and practice and their pride in Sanskrit civilization, they had a deep sense of attachment and belonging to their land, which they addressed in their worship as the "Mother, who had given them birth" . How should they have suddenly torn themselves from their racial moorings, abandoned their homes and their temples and quit the temperate and salubrious climate, in which generations of their ancestors had lived, to throw themselves on the charity of the world in the arid tropics of Jammu and beyond? How should they have fallen so low in their own esteem that they should have walked out of their homes on the bidding of Jagmohan, who sought their evacuation to clear the decks for an onslaught on the Muslims ? 

The Hindus were scattered all over the valley and it is unbelievable that in the chaos, which engulfed the valley in January 1990, with the Muslim crusaders having spread all over, Jagmohan' s spies could have moved around to organise the exodus of the Hindus. The stark truth is that as Jagmohan flew into Kashmir a day after he was sworn in as the Governor of the State, hundreds of vehicles carrying the Hindu refugees were speeding down the treacherous Banihal road towards Jammu. 

The Hindus loved their land, perhaps with a greater spiritual commitment than the Muslims, because they were not imposters and they had lived in the valley, generation after generation, over thousands of years. They had a greater sense of national belonging, with its roots in the geography of their land. They were no conquerors; they had risen from their soil. A survey based upon stratified sampling, structured questionnaires and interviews was conducted to ascertain the circumstances in which the Hindu population in Kashmir evacuated. 56 per cent of the respondents living in towns, thirty eight per cent living in the villages and 12 per cent living in the remote villages, stated that they were marked for death and according to the information they received, they had a day and a half to make good their escape. Thirty eight per cent of the respondents living in the towns, 13 per cent respondents living in the villages and 12 per cent respondents living in the remote villages, stated that they received information that the names figured in the hit-lists of various terrorists organisations. Forty three per cent of the respondents living in the towns, 28 percent respondents living in villages, and 22 percent living in remote villages, stated that they heard rumours of their names having figured in the hit-list of the various terrorist organisations. Sixty eight percent respondents living in the towns, 42 percent respondents living in the villages and 8 percent respondents living in the remote villages stated that they received threats from various terrorist organisations through emissaries. Six percent of the respondents living in the towns and 2 percent respondents living in villages stated that they received instructions to appear before Muslim tribunals after Friday prayers, in the local mosques, to explain their anti-struggle conduct. Less than one percent of the respondents accepted that they appeared before the tribunals. The rest of the respondents, so summoned, left their localities before the appointed date for hearing. A scholar of sociology and history, resident of Srinagar city, stated in an interview: "I was already informed that a Naka, a ring had been thrown around the locality where I lived, with the intention to gun me down, whenever I came out of my house. I did not stir out, and as the day wore by, the fear gripped me that with the fall of the night, the terrorists would raid my house. As the night set in, I sneaked out of my house, wrapped in a blanket. It had begun to drizzle and I was perhaps able to give a slip to the people who possibly had a bandoned their watch. The information that I would be waylaid was secret1y communicated to me by a young lad of my own community. I left my home and took refuge at a fairly distant place in the house of a relative. The next day the militants sent a delegation of the local mosque committee to my home. Most of the men in the delegation were known to my people. In polite words the members of the delegation told my family members that reports about my anti-struggle activities had reached the militant forces, and therefore, it would be right for me to appear before the Muslim congregation on Friday, where my explanation would be considered sympathetically and the members of the delegation would ensure that no harm was done to me. My family members assured the delegation that I would appear before the congregate judgment. During the ensuring night, my people quietly shifted out of the house with the least little belongings they could carry in a small vehicle, hired at an exorbitant price. The vehicle reached the outskirts of Srinagar in the early hours of morning, where I had been instructed to wait. No one spoke a word. The vehicle sped away and by the onset of the dawn, the vehicle was racing up the hill slopes of Banihal." 

There is enough ground to believe that the danger of widespread massacre of Hindus, particularly the Kashmiri Pandits, was imminent and a single false step would have cost them thousands of their lives and perhaps, the honour of their women. Thirty eight percent of the respondents living in the towns, 46 percent of the respondents living in villages and 71 per cent respondents living in remote villages, stated that threats were communicated to them through their Muslim neighbours and acquaintances. Forty two per cent of the respondents living in the towns, 69 per cent of the respondents living in villages and 68 per cent of the respondents living in remote village stated that secret intelligence reached them that they had been accused of espionage for India. Most of them stated that they knew that the accusation of "Mukhbiri" or espionage was the warrant of death. Sixty one per cent of the respondents who received information of being accused of "Mukhbiri" stated that they left their homes in the darkness of the night to avoid interception. Thirty two per cent of the respondents living in the towns, 41 per cent in the villages and 76 per cent of the respondents living in the remote villages stated that they had secretly been counseled by their Muslim neighbours to shift to Jammu as conditions for their stay in Kashmir invoked risk to their lives. Eighty two per cent of the respondents living in the towns and 57 per cent living the remote villages stated that the long discourses, broadcast on the public address systems of the Muslim mosques on the sacred mission of the Muslim crusade in Kashmir, warned the infidels and traitors to leave Kashmir or face death. A political activist of Anantnag district in Kashmir stated in an interview: The warning was not veiled: it was blunt and outright. The amplifiers fit on the minarettes of the mosques, shrieked vengeance against the infidels and exhorted them to leave or face death. 'Ay Zalimo, Ay Kafiro. Kashmir Hamara Chor Do', meaning: 'O oppressors; O infidels: quit our Kashmir'', was one slogan which was repeatedly broadcast from the mosques throughout the length and breadth of the Kashmir valley. These are the facts of history. The first attack of the Muslim militancy was focussed on us. The people in India must know the truth. The longer the truth is concealed, graver are the dangers to the nation". Sixty two percent of respondents living in the towns, 21 percent respondents living in the villages and 8 per cent of respondents living in remote villages, stated that they read notices printed in Urdu Newspapers, warning the Hindus to leave Kashmir within specified time limits. Sixty seven per cent of the respondents living in the towns and 47 per cent of the villages were forced out of their homes to join the rampaging mobs in the streets during the night of 19 January 1990. Eighty one per cent of the respondents agreed, that they hid their women and children lest they were attacked. Twelve per cent of the respondents accepted that unruly bands of strangers entered their homes and their behaviour was menacingly dangerous. Eighty one per cent of the respondents stated that during the night of 19th January, 1990, and the nights which followed, they hid their women folk and their children from the unruly strangers who broke into their homes. Eighty seven per cent of the respondents living in the towns, sixty seven per cent of the respondents living in villages and sixty eight per cent of the respondents living in the remote villages stated that they did not dare lodge any complaints with local Police Stations because (a) they feared retaliation by the militants (b) their identity would be revealed to the militants by elements in the Police Stations who were in contact with the militants, (c) the militants kept a strict watch on the Police Posts. Seventy nine percent of the respondents living in towns and thirty eight per cent living in villages stated that the Police Posts in their local areas did not function. 

Seventy eight per cent of the respondents living in the towns and 83 per cent respondents living in the villages stated that they apprehended attack on their womenfolk. "There was a menacing fear among us", an octogenarian Kashmiri Pandit stated in his interview, "that our womenfolk would be subjected to assault. Various ominous rumours floated round that the young Hindu women would be rounded up for mass conversion to Islam. The rumours were not completely unfounded, several families in my locality secretly confided in me that they had seen suspicious characters prouling around their homes at the odd hours of the day. These families were among the first to quit our locality. 86 per cent of the respondents living in towns accepted having decided to abandon their homes and leave Kashmir after the traumatic experience of the events on 19 January 1990, when they found themselves left along to their fate, face to face with death and dishonour. The stunning surprise that we received the next day was that the entire valley had been abandoned to the wolves and the police, the Magistracy and the law had withdrawn from all active function. Few Kashmiri Hindus were killed on 19 January but several of the houses were ransacked and the inmates treated with little impunity." A local teacher living in Srinagar stated in his interview: "A Hindu neighbour a man of some connections, told me the next day that he had made frantic telephone calls to the office of the Governor and to some of his friends in Jammu and Delhi, that the terror had broken out in the streets and they could be swallowed by it any movement. Ninety three per cent of the respondents living in towns and 63 percent respondents living in villages stated that they did not want to join the night-long Muslim demonstration and violence, that commenced on 19 January, 1990. Forty three per cent of the respondents living in the towns and 14 per cent respondents living in the villages accepted that they had evacuated under the protection provided by the Central Security Force and (b) that they would be trapped in case the Security cover was not available to them. 

Eighty eight per cent of the respondents stated that if they had not evacuated they would have been assassinated in large numbers. Ninety two per cent of the respondents stated that if they had not evacuated their women would have been subject to assault. 46 per cent of the respondents living in the towns, 61 per cent in the villages and 83 per cent living in remote villages stated that if they had not evacuated they would have run the risk of forcible conversion from their religion. 

Fifty two per cent of the women respondents living in towns and 86 per cent of the women respondents living in village stated that their men were marked for death and, therefore, they pressed them for evacuation. Sixty eight per cent of the women respondents living in the towns and 74 per cent living in villages stated that they apprehended attack on their homes. Sixty three percent of the women respondents stated that they had evacuated because of the widespread assassination of the Hindus. Eighty eight per cent of the women respondents living in towns and 96 per cent living in the villages, accepted that they feared assault on their families. Seventy six per cent of the women respondents living in towns and 72 per cent living in villages stated that they apprehended wholesale conversion of the Hindus. Eighty eight per cent of the women respondents stated that there was no guarantee of life in their localities and their evacuation was necessary. Ninety seven per cent of the women respondents stated that if they had not evacuated, they would have been liquidated in large numbers. 

None of the respondents stated having received any overt or covert instructions from the State Government or the Governor or his office. Six per cent of the respondents in the towns and 8 per cent of the respondents in the villages stated that they were advised by various formations of the Central Security Forces, to evacuate to safer places. 

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