IThe Kashmir Civil Society has demanded an impartial international probe into the Pandit migration. The demand carries weight especially in the light of different narratives put forth by different quarters about the migration.
The Muslims by and large believe that the then governor Jagmohan triggered the migration. The Pandits hold the militants and the majority community responsible for their displacement.
On June 29, 2012 while honouring noted Kashmiri singer, Kailash Mehra Sadhu a resolution was passed at California. The clause of the resolution that merits special mention here reads: “Whereas, on January 19, 1990, 500,000 Kashmiri Pandits were internally displaced and dislodged by acts of terrorism, many of whom immigrated to the united States and, whereas, today, 22 years later, a majority of the Kashmiri Pandits have not, due to fear, returned to their places of birth, not even as tourists.”
The figures given above are not substantiated by the 1981 census. The Pandits better check the document. January 19 is observed by the Kashmiri Pandits as “holocaust day.” They believe that the migration commenced on January 19, 1990. There is no denying the fact that January 19 was a tense day for all the Kashmiris. Revolutionary slogans were chanted across Kashmir, processions were taken out amid strict curfew restrictions and people irrespective of the faith professed that they were scared. But, there is no proof of the migration having commenced on that day.
Sanjay Tikoo, who heads the Kashmiri Pandit Sangrash Samithi (KPSS) preferred to stay back in the Valley. He agrees that the migration was not triggered by the happenings of January 19, 1990. “I was in Mumbai with my colleagues. All of us wanted to reach Kashmir to celebrate Heerath (Shivratri) in Kashmir in last week of February. We reached Jammu. Somebody told me that migrants were getting registered at Geeta Bhawan. I went to the Bhawan and got myself registered as a migrant. My serial number on the migrant register was either 36 or 37. Soon after, I came to Kashmir and celebrated Heerath with my family.”
This proves that a handful of Pandits , around 37 had migrated up to last week of February and there was no mass migration till then. Sanjay further says: “As usual we went to Habba Kadal to buy earthen ware needed for the festival. There was traditional hustle and bustle in the market. Pandits were making purchases.”
Sanjay sees a conspiracy in the migration. On Jan, 04, 1990, a local Urdu newspaper, Aftab, published a press release issued by Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, asking all Pandits to leave the Valley immediately. Al Safa, another local daily repeated the warning. Surprisingly, the outfit did not own the statement and a clarification were accordingly issued. Even if the authenticity of the statement is accepted for the sake of arguments, why did the Pandits wait for a fortnight? It makes no sense that a community that has been threatened with dire consequences stays back for fifteen days and then suddenly decides to flee on January 19.
According to Tikoo something happened in New Delhi around March 15. “Haday Nath Jattu, a Pandit leader called on my father telling him to leave Srinagar by March 17. He further said that the Jawahar tunnel shall be closed after the said date.”
Jatoo, however, met Ghulam Muhammad Bakshi, Sheikh Abdul Kabir and Late Mr Dugga to Qazigund soon after and tried to stop the fleeing Pandits . The effort, however, went in vain.
“Most of the Pandits migrated in April and May,” maintains Sanjay. He says hundreds of Pandits were killed from June 1 to October 1990. “This means a good number of Pandits were still in the Valley up to October,” he says.
Here an attempt is not being made to trivialise a tragedy. Migration has taken place and it is a reality. But what triggered it? A thorough probe can bring facts to the fore. But who will probe it. Sanjay says a team comprising members of both the communities must revisit 1990 and unveil the conspiracy.
A noted medical practitioner returned from his holidays on February 28, 1990 and rushed to his clinic near erstwhile Hazuri Bagh. He saw his Pandit attendant in distress. “He (Jagmohan) is offering Rs 1500 to those Pandits who leave the valley,” he said. The learned doctor advised him to receive the amount and go to Jammu for a fortnight. He never returned. The doctor lost a faithful staffer.
Now the government at New Delhi wants to pit them against the majority community by `rehabilitating’ them in `composite townships’. Some of them who were used as experimental animals feel suffocated in airtight compartments at various places. They want to go back. It has now become clear that the government of India with all its military might has failed to bring the migrants back to Kashmir. It is the people of Kashmir who alone can ensure an honourable and dignified return of the Pandit migrants to the Valley. Sanjay and others admit it that the Muslims saved many precious lives during the fateful days of 1990. And, till the truth about the migration is found out, both the communities have to exercise caution. No provocative statements must be issued.
The record of Jammu Kashmir government and the government of India for the past twenty-five years has created mistrust so much so that the people see government hand behind every act of violence.
Some mysteries have already been solved. An investigation by foreign authors found involvement of government and its gunmen in the disappearance of foreign hostages who were abducted in 1995 by Al Faran. Pathribal, Machil are some of gruesome acts that convey it in clear terms. The Chittisinghpora massacre is still shrouded in mystery and the government is reluctant to probe it. The government has also barred State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) from probing the unmarked/mass graved. The government is not ready to probe enforced disappearances.
The demand for probing the Pandit migration will not be accepted and the two communities will continue to hold rancor against each other notwithstanding the past bonhomie between them.