The cold, dark night of January 19, 1990, had stirred into life the worst nightmares of Kashmiri Pandits living in the valley. Screaming from loudspeakers and crowded streets was a message for the Sikhs and Hindus living in Kashmir – Ralive, Tsaliv ya Galive (either convert to Islam, leave the land, or die).
Col Tej Kumar Tikoo in his book, Kashmir ‘Its Aborigines and Their Exodus’, wrote:
“As the night fell, the microscopic community became panic-stricken when the Valley began reverberating with the war-cries of Islamists, who had stage-managed the whole event with great care; choosing its timing and the slogans to be used. A host of highly provocative, communal and threatening slogans, interspersed with martial songs, incited the Muslims to come out on the streets and break the chains of ‘slavery’. These exhortations urged the faithful to give a final push to the Kafir in order to ring in the true Islamic order. These slogans were mixed with precise and unambiguous threats to Pandits.They were presented with three choices – Ralive, Tsaliv ya Galive (convert to Islam, leave the place or perish). Tens of thousands of Kashmiri Muslims poured into the streets of the Valley, shouting ‘death to India’ and death to Kafirs…
Different accounts give different statistics of the total number of Kashmiri Pandits who fled their homes for their lives in the 1990s. While some say around 1,00,000 of them had left the valley, others suggest figures as high as 1,50,000 to 1,90,000.
The Hindus of the Kashmir Valley were forced to flee the Kashmir valley as a result of being targeted by JKLF and Islamist insurgents during late 1989 and early 1990. According to the official data, more than 62,000 families are registered as Kashmiri refugees including some Sikh families. Most families were resettled in Jammu, National Capital Region surrounding Delhi and other neighbouring states.
350,000 Kashmiri Pandits, constituting 99% of the total population of Hindus living in Muslim majority area of the Kashmir Valley, were forcibly pushed out of the Valley by Muslim terrorists, trained in Pakistan, since the end of 1989. They have been forced to live the life of exiles in their own country, outside their homeland, by unleashing a systematic campaign of terror, murder, loot and arson.
Genocide of Kashmiri Pandits has reached its climax with Muslim terrorism succeeding in ‘CLEANSING’ the valley of this ancient ethnoreligious community. With the completion of the fifth year of their forced exile, this peace-loving, culturally rich community with a history of more than 5000 years, is fighting a grim battle to save itself from becoming extinct as a distinct race and culture.
The major dimension of the terrorist violence in Kashmir is the terrorists’ commitment to the extermination and subjugation of the Hindus in the state because Hindus do not subscribe to the idea of separation from India, nor do they expect to be governed by the authority of the state which derives its sanction from the law and precedent of Islam. Kashmiri Pandits (Hindus) have always been at the forefront of the struggle against secessionism, communalism and fundamentalism. Hence this peace-loving minority with a modern outlook became the main victim of terrorist violence. The strategies involved in the terrorists’ operation against the Hindus in Kashmir include:
The extermination of Hindus
Subjecting Hindus to brutal torture to instill fear among them in order to achieve their submission.
- To engineer a forced mass exodus of Hindus from the land of their ancestors and birth by way of issuing threatening letters, kidnappings and torture deaths on non-compliance of the terrorists’ dictates and ensure the destruction of the secular and pluralistic character of the socio-political fabric of the Kashmiri Society.
- Attacks, molestations, kidnappings, gang rapes of the womenfolk of the Hindus in order to instil fear and humiliation in them.
- Destruction and burning of the residential houses of the Hindus who leave their homes in the lookout for safety. Looting of their properties and appropriation of their business establishments to ensure that they do not return.
- Attachment of their landed property.
- Destruction of the social base of the Hindus by the desecration and destruction of their places of worship.
- Appropriation of the property of the Hindu shrines and its attachment to Muslim religious endowments.