It has been 30 years since Kashmiri Hindus (Pandits) were given the multiple choice of convert, flee or die. More than wonder, I shudder at why have what happened to the Kashmiri Hindus not taught to every citizen of India? Why are there no cautionary messages spread about Islamist fundamentalism across the world, despite what was played out in the valley by radical fanatics?
Another January 19 has come and gone. Another year of unchronicled, ignored, glossed over pain. Our pain remains unchronicled.
Their violence is freedom of expression
Our expression of pain is intolerance
The organised, ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus (Pandits) by Islamic fundamentalists in Kashmir, and the world’s continued apathy towards their gruesome atrocities is a burden on the collective soul of humanity.
Those who remained mute spectators to their physical, cultural and emotional genocide, either out of ignorance or unconcern, might not realise it now, but sooner or later, the blood of innocent Hindus spilled in Kashmir by fundamentalists, across centuries, will seek accounting and atonement.
It has been 30 years since Kashmiri Hindus (Pandits) were given the multiple choice of convert, flee or die. More than wonder, I shudder at why have what happened to the Kashmiri Hindus not taught to every citizen of India? Why are there no cautionary messages spread about Islamist fundamentalism across the world, despite what was played out in the valley by radical fanatics? Why is it that in a country of 1.25 billion people, not even a few million are aware of the catastrophe that befell a minuscule minority in the land of its forefathers?
As we move into the 30th year of forced exile, through this article I wish to remind the world to stop overlooking and/or forgetting the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus through genocide by Islamofascists, who, propped by an enemy nation, have been peddling separatism in Kashmir.
This is a list of some of the documented crimes against Kashmiri Hindus (Pandits), for those who know not or choose not to know:
- March 14, 1989 - Prabhavati from Nawagari, Chadoora in Budgam district was killed at Hari Singh High Street on March 14, 1989.
- September 14, 1989 - Prominent Kashmiri Pandit social activist and advocate Pt Tika Lal Taploo was shot dead in his house in Habba Kadal.
- October 1989 - Justice (Retd) Neelkantha Ganjoo was shot at close range and killed.
- October 31, 1989 - Forty-seven-year-old Sheela Koul (Tikoo), from Dalhasanyar, died when she was shot in the chest and head.
- December 1, 1989 - Ajay Kapoor, a resident of Maharaj Gunj, Srinagar was sprayed with bullets by terrorists in full public view.
- December 27, 1989 - Fifty-seven-year-old advocate Prem Nath Bhatt of Anantnag was killed in front of many onlookers.
- January 15, 1990 - ML Bhan, a government employee from Khonmoh, Srinagar, was killed. Baldev Raj Dutta, an operator in Lal Chowk, Srinagar, was kidnapped and his brutally tortured body was recovered four days later, on January 19, 1990, at Nai Sarak, Srinagar.
- January 25, 1990 - Squadron leader Ravi Khanna and his colleagues were waiting at the Rawalpura bus stand for an Indian Air Force bus to take them to the airport when a Maruti Gypsy and a two-wheeler carrying four to five JKLF terrorists surrounded them and fired a hail of bullets from AK 47s. Khanna and 13 other IAF men fell to the ground. Three died with Khanna, and 10 were injured. Yasin Malik has admitted to this killing in an interview with Tim Sebastian. He was the area commander of JKLF working under chief commander Ishafaq Wani. He has defended the killings saying that the IAF personnel were not innocent victims but the agents of the ‘enemy’.
- February 1, 1990 - Krishen Gopal Berwa, a central government employee and Romesh Kumar Thussu, a state government employee of Trehgam, Kupwara, was gunned down.
- February 2, 1990 - Satish Kumar Tickoo, a young Kashmiri Pandit, was shot at point blank range by a group of people led by Farooq Ahmad Dar (alias Bitta Karate).
- February 13, 1990 - Director of Doordarshan Lassa Kaul was murdered, when information about his movement was allegedly leaked by one of his colleagues.
On the same day, Rattan Lal of Rawalpora, working in military engineering service (MES), a purely civilian organisation, was also killed.
- February 16, 1990 - Anil Bhan was killed by Farook Ahmed Dar, aka Bitta Karate, who’s responsible for the killing of thirty-four Kashmiri Pandits.
- February 23, 1990 - Ashok Kazi was accosted and shot in the knees, kicked into the drain and urinated upon. As he waited for his agonising death, few more shots were fired to kill him.
- February 27, 1990 - Naveen Sapru was shot near the Habba Kadal bridge. The murderers then danced around him and as he lay breathing his last, the ‘innocent’ onlookers threw shireen as him as if he was already dead.
- March 1, 1990 - PN Handoo of the information department was killed and Tej Kishen of Badgam was hanged to death.
- March 18, 1990 - RN Handoo, personal assistant to the Governor, was killed outside the gate of his house at Narsinghgarh, Srinagar, just as he was about to board the official vehicle to take him to his office.
- March 19, 1990 - BK Ganju was killed when his Muslim neighbour gave away his hideout to the terrorists.
- March 20, 1990 - AK Raina, deputy director of Food and Supplies, was murdered in his office at Srinagar. As he lay dying, his subordinates stood silently watching the macabre proceedings.
- April 10, 1990 - HL Khera, the general manager of HMT was shot dead by terrorists in Srinagar.
- April 19, 1990 - Sarla Bhat was gang-raped by a number of Muslims, stripped naked and murdered brazenly. Her dead body was thrown on the roadside in full view of the public.
- April 24, 1990 - Forty-five-year-old Bansi Lal Sapru of Gulab Bagh, Srinagar was accosted by his neighbours and killed by pumping three bullets into him at close range.
- April 24, 1990 - Ravinder Kumar Pandita of Mattan, Anantnag was shot dead at close range on his way back home. As he fell dead, the killers danced over his dead body in glee.
- April 27, 1990 - Brij Nath Shah, kidnapped from his home in Sadhu Ganga, Kupwara was found dead two days later with his lips stitched.
- April 30, 1990 - Sarwanand Koul `Premi’ and his son, Virender, Koul were taken away from their home and two days later their dead bodies were found hanging, with their limbs broken, hairs uprooted, and portions of their skin slit open and burnt.
- May 1990 - Shyam Lal of Chiragam, Anantnag had his hands and feet chopped off and skull battered after being kidnapped. His remains were stuffed into a sack and deposited on the threshold of his house.
- May 2, 1990 - Professor KL Ganju had six bullets pumped into his body. His corpse was kept in the local mosque for the night and then thrown into the river. According to one of the assassins who was arrested later, Mrs Ganju, too, was ruthlessly killed and her corpse was tied with a stone and thrown into the Jhelum. But since her dead body was never found, once can never be certain about what exactly happened to her.
- May 2, 1990 - Twenty-three-year-old Surinder Kumar Raina, son of Jia Lal Raina, working as a liftman in the SKIMS, Soura was kidnapped in front of cheering and dancing onlookers and then killed on Ali Jan Road.
- May 13, 1990 - Twenty-seven-year-old Ashok Kumar, son of Bhasker Nath, from Pulwama was kidnapped by Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists, who broke his hands and feet, dragged him to the main crossing of the town, plucked out his eye-balls with iron rods and killed with a burst of bullets in the presence of hundreds of cheering onlookers, one of whom was chanting “Islam is glorious and great”. On the same day, in another part of the valley, Veer Ji Bhat, son of DN Bhat, a junior engineer in the state irrigation department posted at Shopian, was sprayed with bullets. Despite bleeding profusely, he caught hold of one of the terrorists when the other terrorists, armed to the teeth, sprayed more bullets on him, before making good their escape.
- May 16, 1990 - Bushan Lal Koul, son of Shridhar Koul, a government employee and a resident of Amnoo village, not far from Kulgam, Anantnag, was kidnapped by Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists and strangulated to death with a steel wire.
- May 18, 1990 - Twenty-seven-year-old Manmohan Bachloo, son of Janki Nath Bachloo, of Qazihama, Baramulla, an assistant in the postal department of Karnah had come home on a holiday. A childhood friend asked him out for tea and led him to a shop where his other accomplices shot him at point-blank range.
- May 19, 1990 - Dilip Kumar, son of Mohan Lal hailing from Mujamarag, Shopian was dragged out of his home by Muslim terrorists. Dilip’s teeth were hammered out and twelve bullets pumped into him His dead body was hung from a tree with a letter pinned on his chest daring anyone to lift it and get a prize of one lakh.
- May 27, 1990 - Prem Nath of Uttarsu in Anantag district was kidnapped and subsequently impaled by being nailed on the chest and feet.
- June 4, 1990 - Girija Tickoo in Bandipora was abducted and blindfolded. Then four men took turns raping her. When she identified one of them by his voice, the men fearing identification, took her to a wood processing unit and mechanically sawed her alive. Sometime later, almost a similar fate befell Kumari Babli and her mother Roopwati of Pulwama.
- June 1990 - Ashwani Kumar, injured by terrorists’ bullets, was refused a vehicle for transportation to the hospital. When he was finally rushed to the hospital, the doctors refused to treat him and he succumbed to his injuries.
- June 22, 1990 - Balkrishen Tutoo of Habba Kadal, Srinagar, an officer in agriculture department, was critically wounded by terrorists who had barged into his house to abduct and kill his brother. He succumbed to his injuries due to lack of medical attention. On the same day 52-year-old Makhan Lal Raina, a medical resident posted at a dispensary at Khan Sahib in Badgam district, hailing from Kharyar, Srinagar was picked up from his dispensary, tortured in the most brutal manner and finally shot dead. His dead body was said to have been chopped into pieces. The mutilated body was eventually recovered from Dardpora in Badgam.
- June 30, 1990 - Fifty-nine-year-old Raj Nath Dhar, son of Dina Nath Dhar, from Qutub-ub-din Pora, Alikadal, Srinagar, was shot at and died due to lack of medical aid and attention.
- July 7, 1990 - Gopi Nath Raina, son of Govind Ram Raina, of Manigam, Ganderbal was conveniently labeled an informer and shot dead in his own shop by Hizbul Mujahideen cadres. On the same day, Dina Nath Mujoo, a 70-year old theosophist who contributed immensely towards educating the Muslim youth of Fateh Kadal, was stabbed ruthlessly by terrorists who barged into his house in the dead of night and decapitated him.
- July 15, 1990 - Shiban Kishen Koul, son of Radha Krishen Koul of Ashmuji, Kulgam, Anantnag, was slaughtered by his close neighbours on the uneven and pot-holed track of his native village on. His father too was slaughtered the next day, July 16, 1990, in the same manner.
- July 26, 1990 - Sixty-one-year-old former serviceman Autar Singh, son of Fateh Singh, of Saimnoo in Kulagam district of Kashmir, working with Hindustan Petroleum in Pulwama was suspected of being a Mukhbir and shot dead by armed Muslim terrorists.
- August 13, 1990 - Babli Raina of Sopore, a teacher by profession, was gang-raped in her house in presence of her family members.
- August 17, 1990 - Chand Ji Kher, the sound teenaged son of Dina Nath Kher, and a resident of Vessu, Anantnag was killed after he went out of his house on being called by his Muslim friends.
- October 6, 1990 - Professor DP Khazanchi, son of Damodar Khazanchi, of Kani Kadal, had three bullets pumped into him, killing him on the spot. On the same day, Zinda Lal Pandita, son of Prakash Ram Pandita, of Bagatpora, Handwara was kidnapped from his residence and brutally strangulated to death with a steel wire in a nearby orchard by JKLF murderers.
- October 7, 1990 - Jagan Nath Pandita, son of Ganesh Nath Pandita of Bagatpora, Handwara, was kidnapped from his house and taken to his own orchard, where he too was strangulated with steel wire. His killing took place during the intervening night of October 7-8, 1990.
- October 12, 1990 - Forty-seven-year-old Pushker Nath Razdan, son of Tika Lal Razdan, a resident of Khonmuha, in Pulwama district, was assassinated by Hizbul Mujahideen Jihadis who barged into his house at night.
- October 15, 1990 - Maheshwar Nath Bhat, son of Zana Bhat of Hazuri Bagh, Srinagar was killed when armed terrorists barged into his house seeking his son-in-law who had hid himself in the house.
- January 2, 1991 - Omkar Nath Wali, son of Parmanand Wali, a resident of Chak-i-Rajwati, Vessu in Anantnag district was an assistant sub inspector of police, posted at district police lines, Anantnag. He was kidnapped and shot dead in cold blood. It was later revealed that his own colleagues in the police department had hatched a conspiracy for his murder in connivance with the terrorists of JKLF.
- August 8, 1991 - Asha Koul was abducted from Achabal, Anantnag, and taken to an abandoned house of a Kashmiri Pandit in Srinagar where she was gang-raped for many days and then tortured to death. Her body was found later in a decomposed state in that very house on August 26, 1991.
- August 26, 1991 - Twenty-year-old Surinder Kumar Koul of Batagund, Handwara, was kidnapped by his friends and, after endless torture, shot to death at Langet.
- October 18, 1991 - Kanya Lal Peshin, son of Kanth Ram Peshin of Pazalpora, Bandipora, a poor farmer who barely managed to survive on his measly income was kidnapped from his house at 9 pm and taken three kilometres away from his village where he was subjected to brutal torture. Pins were driven into his nails and finally, a metre length piece of cloth was stuffed into his mouth to stifle him to death. His dead body was later found at Ajar, Bandipora.
- March 31, 1992 - Bimla Braroo of Nai Sarak, Srinagar, and her daughter, Archana were raped in the presence of her husband, Sohan Lal, before all three were killed.
- June 24, 1990 - Twenty-five-year-old Ashwani Garyali son of Shambu Nath Garyali’s from Chhatabal, Srinagar, was shot by five masked intruders after they accused him of being an informer. He died upon being denied medical care.
- June 16, 1991 - Rajinder Tickoo from Batpora, Shopian, who worked in the accounts department of Shopian Hospital accounts, was hit by four bullets. His body was cremated by his disconsolate father himself as there was no priest available.
- June 1991 - Brij Lal Kaul and his wife Chhoti from village Harman, Shopian, were tied behind a jeep and dragged and then shot dead. Their mangled bodies were recovered 10 kilometres away.
- March 21-22, 1997 - Seven Kashmiri Pandits were massacred during the night at Sangrampora village in Budgam. The terrorists dragged them out of their houses and gunned them down.
- January 25, 1998 - Twenty-three Kashmiri Pandits, including women and children, were shot in cold blood in Wandhama Village.
- March 24, 2003 - Twenty-four Kashmiri Pandits, including infants, were brutally shot dead in Nadimarg Village.
The seventh forced exile of Kashmiri Hindus (Pandits), which began in 1990, saw many innocents being mercilessly killed. Scores of Kashmiri Pandit bodies, drowned in Jhelum, were found floating. Many dead bodies, with hands and feet tied, were recovered from different parts of the Valley. There were instances of victims having been branded with hot iron while still alive or having had their eyes gouged out. These selective killings formed a part of the carefully crafted strategy of ethnic cleaning through genocide.
It is high time that the world recognises this grave violation of human rights that has still not been addressed. It is also essential that we question those who seem to be intent on conflating any caution against Islamist fundamentalism as hatred towards Muslims? This guilt-tripping of the world through incorrect interpretations needs to cease, for, raising awareness about fundamentalist Islamists, by their victims, is not Islamophobia. Glossing over the atrocities perpetrated by Islamists across India and the world, over centuries, however, is most certainly a crime against humanity - a gross violation of mammoth proportions.
As a Kashmiri Hindu (Pandit) myself, I have every reason to call out Islamist fundamentalists and I shall, as long as I am alive. And no, it does not mean that I hate Muslims. I do not, for, I don’t engage with people based on their faith. I engage with them based on who they are; based on their essence! But am I wary of anyone who exhibits typical Islamist fundamentalist outlook? You bet I am. I have lived through it all.
Contrary to what those who control the narrative would have you believe and guilt trip into, it is very much possible to have a cordial rapport with Muslim brethren even while denouncing Islamist fundamentalism.
If these people, in their inability to comprehend such a fundamental thing, keep brushing away the atrocities perpetrated against Hindus for years together or paint our genuine anguish for acknowledgment and healing as bigotry, it needs to be questioned and highlighted. Hinduism, Hindutva, Sanatan, Dharma all have pluralism intrinsically embedded. One does not have to prove the longest extant Indic civilisation’s inbuilt respect and appreciation of diversity. It is self-evident in how we have conducted ourselves with respect to the world. How the world has conducted itself towards us, however, has been lacking reciprocity.
I would urge fellow Indians to start inquiring about what happened to Kashmiri Hindus (Pandits) and why January 19 is a day of remembrance of our forced exile when our raw, unhealed wounds fester.
We are not cowards. We chose to lose it all for our faith. That takes courage! Think about it!
I am proud of my community that braved an orchestrated pogrom, with its faith intact as Hindus! The world should be too.
And, more importantly, humankind might do well to learn from what happened to us in order to ensure that we create a society where such a recurrence is not allowed – ever!
1. Jagmohan, “My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir’’, Published by South Asia Books, 6th Edition.
2. Tej K. Tikoo, “Kashmir: Its Aborigines and their Exodus’’, Published by Lancer Publishers LLC
3. Rahul Pandita, “Our Moon Has Blood Clots: The Exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits’’ Published by Random House India
4. “Abductions and Killings of Prominent Personalities”http://ikashmir.net/atrocities/4.html
5. GD Bakshi, “Kishtwar Cauldron: The Struggle Against Isis Ethnic Cleansing’’, Published by Pentagon Press
6. Muzamil Jaleel , Muzamil Jaleel, “209 Kashmiri Pandits killed since 1989, say J-K cops in first report”
7. Kashmir News Network , “Kashmir Terrorist Visits New York”
8. Nancy Kaul, “ In defence of my country undeterred I stand, in return I get betrayal – II“
Dimple Kaul is a learner, writer and life enthusiast who writes on various topics across genres. You can follow her work at bit.ly/DimpleKaul and bit.ly/IndicPen and follow her on Twitter at @DimpleAtra.
Last Updated 9:36 AM IST