Noted journalist Tavleen Singh visited Kashmir a few days after the massacre in Gaw Kadal on January 21, 1990. Somebody had given her my telephone number, and I agreed to accompany her around the city. We visited the site of the carnage, where shoes and slippers left behind by marchers while running for safety still lay in a huge pile.
“The heap of shoes is mocking at Indian democracy,” I told Singh.
She hung her head in shame.
Many people from India visited Kashmir in February 1990 to take stock of the situation. All of them posed the same question. What will happen now? “This is going to be a turning point in our history,” I would answer. The coming months proved me right. The massacre had made the movement a mass uprising. People in Delhi also felt the heat.
Tavleen Singh came again. She called me and we met at the Broadway Hotel. She wanted to see the leaders. I could not help her. Finally she asked me to accompany her to some location she did not disclose.
“George Fernandez, the Kashmir affairs minister wants to talk to the leaders,” she said. “New Delhi is ready to grant total autonomy. Please come with me and talk to him.”
Singh had forgotten that I was an ordinary lawyer and not qualified to represent people. But her insistence conveyed a lot. The bloodshed near Gaw Kadal had made an impact. New Delhi was desperate to discuss the future of Kashmir with a commoner!
But today’s India is arrogant. While the commoner is paying through the nose, the leaders seem in no position to lead the freedom movement. New Delhi is not even ready for autonomy, self rule or achievable nationhood. Even Singh has shifted to the other side of the fence after having shaken the Government of India and the Indian nation by her Tragedy of Errors. A myth has been exploded. When it comes to Kashmir, all Indians (barring a few honourable exceptions) forget democracy and human rights, and show their khaki knickers.
And we in Kashmir have been left the task of answering uncalled for queries by Pandits who believe that the procession that changed Kashmir for good was part of a plan to drive them out of the Valley. For the information of the Pandits, if anything went according to plan that day, it was the killings near Badiyar
There is enough evidence to establish that the massacre was planned. The then newly-appointed governor had addressed people on television just the other day. His words were a clear threat, issued in the civilized world only by Israeli prime ministers.
“I am here as a nurse,” Jagmohan, who had earned a lot of goodwill in his earlier tenure, said. “I will not take any salary. I will take just one thousand rupees for my personal expenses. If anybody creates a law and order problem, the cards of peace I am holding will slip away from my hands.”
A day later, he threw away his ‘cards of peace,’ and the threat was carried out.
A number of processions had been taken out from different parts of the city that day, and all were spontaneous. People had heard about the molestation of some women in Chotta Bazar and marched towards the area in solidarity. The procession(s) was not anti-Pandit. It stands proved by the fact that not a single Pandit was touched. Not a single house owned by the Pandits was ransacked. On the contrary, personnel of the Jammu and Kashmir Police were beaten by CRPF men. Nobody has bothered to investigate this. They were roughed up when the local SHO, who happened to be a Pandit, informed the paramilitary force that they (the Kashmir police) were not doing their duty.
The Pandits have been trying (in vain) to tell the world that their exodus was triggered by events on January 19, 20 and 21. They even observe January 19 as Holocaust Day. This is sheer exaggeration of facts. Contrary to the claims of the Pandits, nothing happened on January 19. People did raise slogans from mosques, but they were not directed at the community. Interestingly, various organizations had arrived at a consensus with regard to slogans, approving just three: `Allah-o-Akbar, We Want Freedom, and haq hamara rai shumari, jung hamari jari hai (self-determination is our right, and ours is a continuing fight).
There is absolutely no evidence of slogans like ‘we will make Pakistan without Pandit men’. No Muslim can chant such atrocious slogans in the mosque. On the contrary, Muslims get hyper when it comes to the honour of Islam, the Mosque and the Quran. And if some fringe elements have chanted these slogans anywhere in the city, it needs to be strongly condemned.
The holocaust myth is exploded by the president of the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samithi who was in Mumbai in February 1990 and wanted to celebrate Shivratri with his family in Srinagar. The festival fell in the last week of February, most probably on the 26th or the 27th. On arriving in Jammu, he heard about an office for registering migrants, and went to sign up. He was entered at serial number 46, indicating that only forty-six people had migrated up to February 26, the day he registered himself.
The myth that Muslims encouraged the Pandits to flee also stands exploded as one peeps into the events following the massacre. There is no denying the fact that the Pandits were scared, but so were the Muslims. Amid this chaos, a self-styled Pandit leader was goading his community to migrate as, according to him, the Jawahar Tunnel would be closed after March 15. And later (in March), the same ‘leader’ accompanied prominent civil society members like Sheikh Abdul Kabir, Ghulam Muhammad Bakhshi, GM Dagga and others to Qazigund to stem the migration which by then had picked up. So, the exodus took place during March and not on January 19. Also, that prominent Muslims tried their best to prevent it. There is something fishy about the exodus. Revisiting 1990, therefore, becomes all the more important.