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Hindus of Kashmir: We lived the film and worse

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The Kashmir Files, the based on the committed on Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley, has raised many questions. While the film is being widely appreciated, Pandits, the Hindus of the valley, at the centre of it are overwhelmed by apprehensions. Unhappy with the attitude of all the previous governments towards Kashmiri Hindus, those still living in the valley are afraid that the barely returned peace in the valley may erupt with mayhem again.

44,000 families migrated; 4,300 Hindus returned: Official Kashmir files say

On 17 March 2021, in response to a question asked in the Rajya Sabha, the government had said that according to the relief office, 44,167 Kashmiri migrant families had registered themselves, these people had migrated from the Valley in 1990 due to terrorism. Of these, there were 39,782 Hindu migrant families.

In the year 2008, under a prime minister’s package under the Manmohan Singh government, 3,000 jobs were announced in the valley to the people who were forced to migrate from Kashmir. After this, 3,000 more jobs were approved under the PM package during the tenure of the BJP government in 2015. Thus far 6,000 jobs have been announced for those who migrated from Kashmir.

There is no record saying how many accepted the offers.

The government said that 3,800 Kashmiri migrants returned to the valley under the prime minister’s package. Of them, 520 migrants returned to the Kashmiri valley after the (virtual) abrogation of Article 370. The government also started a scheme of safe house and financial help for such Kashmiri Hindus to live.

Forsaken Hindus

Sirf News inquired about the work done for Kashmiri migrants from the files of the government on this issue and talked to the people living there.

Satish Mahaldar, a Kashmiri Pandit and chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Peace Forum, says that the film The Kashmir Files is very good, whatever is shown in it is also true, but it should have been shown in the that so many governments have come and gone without addressing the genocide, rapes and exodus of the Hindus of Kashmir. “What did they do for Kashmiri Pandits? Why could the governments not provide security to the people? And why are the Kashmiri Hindu families still waiting to return to the Valley?”

Mahaldar said that the Kashmiri Pandit community is happy that on the pretext of the film, discussions about them have started across the country. Mahaldar lived in Jawahar Nagar, Srinagar before 1990. But, due to terrorism, he had to flee in 1989. Now he lives in Delhi.

Mahaldar says, “I am sitting in Lal Chowk in Srinagar at this time demanding that the government should get me back my house. An inquiry committee should be formed to probe the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990 and it should be investigated in detail.”

Deshratan is another Kashmiri Pandit we spoke to. He lives in Jagti Township, Nagrota, Jammu. Deshratan used to live in Shopian, south Kashmir, before 1990. He was forced to flee due to Islamic terrorism. Deshratan says, “Everyone should understand that if the state and union government of 1990 were serious, we would not have to flee our homes. Farooq Abdullah was the chief minister then. He resigned overnight and fled toi. After this, when Jagmohan came as governor, he improved the situation.”

in local jobs for Kashmiri Pandits: Sanjay Tickoo

Sanjay Tickoo, the president of the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti, says that on one side there are Kashmiri Pandits who have migrated from Jammu and Kashmir, who are still hopeful of their return to the valley. On the other, about 808 Kashmiri Pandit families are still living in the valley. Many of these never left Kashmir.

Tickoo says, “What is shown in The Kashmir Files is not wrong, but the visualisation of the is not right. There are many workers in the valley working for BJP too, I am sure they too will not completely agree with this film.”

Tickoo points out that the government took some steps for the migrating Kashmiri Pandits, but nothing much happened for the development of the Kashmiri Pandits who have remained in the valley. He says, “I started a long movement for of Kashmiri Pandits in local jobs in Jammu and Kashmir; the government needs to pay attention to it.”

Vijay Raina, a Kashmiri Pandit living in Kulgam in south Kashmir, is a people’s representative who works closely with locals in the valley. He says that since the release of The Kashmir Files movie, the nation has been talking about the injustice meted out to the Hindus of Jammu and Kashmir. “People of Jammu loved the film. People in the valley are getting to know about this only from reviews,” he said.

Since 1990, 12 union, 5 state governments

In 1990, since Muslim terrorism and violence broke out for the seventh time in Kashmir since the reign of cleansing under Sikandar Shah Miri aka Butshikan in the 14th century, the situation had only deteriorated. The then Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, also the National Conference head — who had won the previous election in a dubious manner, which had aggravated the separatist Muslim hatred, as the community saw the NC government as a ‘puppet of India’ — suddenly resigned on 19 January 1990.

That was the day when the biggest exodus of Kashmiri Hindus took place. The union government of a ragtag coalition led by VP Singh sent Jagmohan as governor to Jammu and Kashmir. President’s rule was imposed on Jammu and Kashmir till 1996. Since then, there have been governments of Farooq Abdullah, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti — with the issue of the plight of Hindus of Kashmir left unaddressed.

Terrorism was at its peak then. Governments could not do much to control this, as all political parties were concerned more about making the then government survive, torn as it was in the tussle between then-Prime Minister Singh, his deputy Devi Lal, with a rally threatening the regime by the latter making the former dig out the BP Mandal Commission recommendations made way back under the Morarji Desai government in the late 1970s. Fearing the extended education and employment reservations would divide the Hindu society, the BJP took over the charge of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement from the VHP.

Earlier, towards the end of Rajiv Gandhi’s government, the alliance of opposition parties had campaigned to stop Kashmir from turning into another Punjab, which was then militancy ridden. However, when they came to power, they forgot Kashmir, especially its Hindus.

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