Vivek Agnihotri’s new film, The Kashmir Files, has brought the killings and the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in the late 80s and the early 90s into the mainstream and discussions around it have dominated social media since its release.
Amid the discussion, an image of an RTI response has gone viral on social media with the claim that only 89 Kashmiri Pandits were killed by militants in Jammu and Kashmir.
While this figure has been quoted by many, some raised doubts on social media about its authenticity, asking if the figure accounted for Kashmiri Pandits killed in Srinagar alone or in the whole of Jammu and Kashmir.
Several Facebook users shared the photo of the viral RTI response with captions like, “Kashmir Police replies in the RTI on Kashmiri Pandits’ killing. Total Pandits killed = 89, Total other faiths killed = 1635.”
“AFWA got in touch with Kapoor over the phone, who has confirmed that the figure quoted in the RTI reply projected the number of Kashmiri Pandits killed in the entire state and not of Srinagar alone unlike as perceived by several netizens.” to
“Kapoor has confirmed that the figure quoted in the RTI reply projected the number of Kashmiri Pandits killed in the entire state and not of Srinagar alone unlike as perceived by several netizens.”
The viral posts are archived here, here and here.
Last year, RTI activist PP Kapoor from Haryana’s Samalkha (Panipat), raised multiple queries in his RTI application regarding the rehabilitation and migration of Kashmiri Pandits and others in the valley. One of the queries asked for the “number of Kashmiri Pandits who were killed by terrorist attacks”.
The DSP of the district police headquarters in Srinagar informed in the RTI reply on 27 November, 2021, that number of “Kashmiri Pandits who were killed by terrorist attacks since the inception of militancy 1990 = 89”.
It is to be noted that the RTI activist did not ask about the number of deaths of Kashmiri Pandits starting from a particular year. In the reply, the J&K police provided figures only from 1990 and excluded the year 1989.
AFWA got in touch with Kapoor over the phone, who has confirmed that the figure quoted in the RTI reply projected the number of Kashmiri Pandits killed in the entire state and not of Srinagar alone unlike as perceived by several netizens.
As per news reports which quoted the J&K police and the state government, over 200 Kashmiri Pandits have been killed due to militancy since 1989.
As per a report published in The Indian Express in 2008, “Jammu and Kashmir Police report says that 209 Kashmiri Pandits were killed by militants since 1989.”
According to this report, “of the 209 Kashmiri Pandits killed, 109 died in 1990.” That means that over 100 people were killed in 1989 alone — something that was not covered in the 2021 RTI response.
A 2010 report from journalist Shujaat Bukhari in The Hindu quoted data provided by the Jammu and Kashmir government that said 219 Kashmiri Pandits had been killed by militants since 1989. Replying to a question from People’s Democratic Party member Syed Basharat Bukhari, then Revenue Minister Raman Bhalla told the Assembly in Jammu that “219 Pandits were killed in Kashmir from 1989 to 2004.”
Shujaat Bukhari, who wrote the aforementioned report, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Srinagar in 2018.
Thus, it is clear that the wide gap in the number of Kashmiri Pandits killed as per news reports and as per the RTI response is different because of the base years that have been taken into account in each. That’s why the death toll appears low in the RTI reply that has gone viral.