The exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from the valley of Kashmir is a tragedy; unprecedented in the annals of human history. In the 1990s, over 300,000 members of the Kashmiri Hindu community became refugees in their own country and still after 30 years, remain in exile.
What led to their extirpation from their homes and hearths is harrowingly painful. A peace-loving patriotic minority community was driven out from its abode to clear the way for total Islamisation of this pious land of Rishis.
Today this land of mystics and saints has turned into a hell hole of terrorism to disintegrate India and to destabilize South Asia.
Jammu & Kashmir was a princely state ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh when India was partitioned into two sovereign states in 1947. At the time of partition and independence of the two countries in August 1947, the ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir had expressed his desire to stay independent because he expected that the state’s Muslims would be unhappy with accession to India, and the Hindus and Sikhs would become vulnerable if he joined Pakistan.
Only three months later in October 1947 Pakistan invaded Kashmir using Pathan militia. Trapped Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession with India in return of military aid. Pakistan had already seized a major proportion of the state. To seek arbitration, India went to UN which laid a set of three conditions:
- Pakistan, the aggressor to vacate the part of Kashmir that it has illegally
- India to take over law and order of the state of Jammu and Kashmir
- To conduct a plebiscite asking whether the citizens wanted to join India or
Pakistan never vacated the illegally occupied land but created mass demographic dilutions in the occupied territories. To grab the rest of Kashmir it has since waged wars in 1965 and in 1999. Having failed in conventional armed tactics, Pakistan resorted to proxy war through terrorism.
Youth were lured through the idea of monetary reward and Islamic Jihad as a duty; into terror training camps in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
Here they were provided arms, ammunition and cover fire to infiltrate into the Indian side of Kashmir. The fundamentalist ideas were imposed on the population, weakening the social fabric of inter-community relationships and irreversibly changing the demographics of the valley.
Under the garb of ‘Azadi’ or independence; the movement was about Islamic resurgence that would convert Kashmir valley, the cradle of Hindu civilization, into an Islamic state.
In 1990, the traditionally peaceful valley of Kashmir was plunged into an orgy of bloodshed, arson, rape and torture. About a quarter-million Kashmiri Hindus were forced to abandon their homes leaving behind their properties worth millions to save their lives, honor and chastity.
The limited choice given to this terror-stricken community was to convert to Islam, flee from the homeland or be prepared to be killed.
By now, communal harmony had been buried deep under the heavy propaganda of fascist philosophy aided by the gun. There was a deep-rooted conspiracy hatched to create hatred and suspicion between the communities and every dissenting voice was brutally silenced.
The Kashmiri Hindu community has suffered insurmountable hardships, brutalities and tortures at the hands of Muslim rulers during 14th to 18th century AD. The legend goes that at one time only eleven Kashmiri Hindu families were left in Kashmir, while all other Hindus were either killed, converted or chased away.
There is no denying the fact that Kashmiri Hindus have always suffered due to the arrogant policy of the leaders, rulers and policymakers while tolerating the hardships of the time. The exodus in 1990 has however surpassed the limits of the past and the pages of the current history of Kashmir are definitely blacker than even those of Pathan rule, as the present exodus has taken place under a secular and democratic setup.
We belonged to the state which is called the paradise on Earth and Switzerland of Asia. We left behind property – buildings, lands, orchards, moveable and immoveable assets. On being thrown out of our motherland, we had to move to Jammu and other parts of India, but we were not accustomed to the hot temperatures and hostile conditions outside Kashmir.
We managed in a small one or two-room tenement with no facilities. The government set up open-air tents in wastelands where the community had to tolerate the scorching heat of summer; biting cold of winter and lashing rains of the monsoon. There was no sanitation, schools and jobs for the beleaguered community. Snakes and scorpion bites, heat strokes, physical and mental diseases and stress took their toll.
The Kashmiri Hindu community is the embodiment of patience, tolerance and perseverance. This community neither resorted to crime nor begged anyone for alms and neither retaliated against fellow Kashmiris, despite all the brutalities. We tolerated hardships and worked hard for our livelihood. We managed to educate our children and prepared them for the battle of life and not to battle our own people.
We never instilled in them the sense of revenge but inspired them to strive for excellence in all fields. We inculcated positive, constructive and patriotic values in their hearts which helped them to thrive in a hostile world.
We are living our unfulfilled dreams through our children, who like the majestic Chinar trees have taken roots all across the globe. This is how we survived in exile.