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Second spell of Kashmiri Hindus exodus from Valley begins – hitting the national and international narrative

10/10/2021 at 10:21 AM

By Arun Joshi

Kashmir has seen a sudden dip in the situation following the killing of minority community membe4rs – the Kashmiri Hindus have started migrating again to the safer places outside the Valley . This situation has internal and external ramifications for the country as it is yet to comprehend the real issues afflicting the  people and place.

The attacks by militants , targeting the minority community members in Kashmir , are having some resemblance what used to happen in early 1990s, but more than that it is the opening of new ominous chapter where all the voices that used to insist that Kashmir is incomplete without Kashmiri Pandits . Now when some of them had returned to the Valley under the Prime Minister’s employment package , the threats have manifested in the violent campaign against them.

The killing of two minority community teachers in Government school in Srinagar exposed the larger game  that is at play. This time , as the migration has begun yet again, with dozens of families living in various  Kashmiri Pandit colonies  in the Valley leaving in darkness to reach the safety of their homes in Jammu and elsewhere, there are indications that there is no acceptability of theirs , nor are there going to be calls for their  return to the Valley. It reinforces the fact that the government arranged packages and accommodations in the secure zones offer no guarantee of their safety nor do they generate the social and economic acceptability of the community  that had  its ancestral claim to the land .

It  spells a double problem for the Kashmiri Pandits who had been living in the Valley for ages, and had shown their unflinching love for the land against all odds of high-grade violence , arson and limited movement in the hope that they would live and die there in a natural manner .  They thought that they had lived in the Valley even when their community members had migrated in hordes  had created an unbreakable atmosphere of goodwill for them . That myth is broken . It broke when the militants targeted Makhan  Lal Bindroo, who apart from being a leading chemist was a man serving the people all over in Srinagar , where had lived on defying all odds.  His killing has shaken the faith of the community members who lived in Kashmir and resisted all the calls to migrate . Now they  are faced with a stark choice : either to live in fear of death in life on a daily basis or migrate. All these are not easy choices.

What happened after the killing of the teachers , and other minority community members , the security forces rushed to the Kashmiri Pandit colonies in Sheikhpora, Budgam, and Baramulla , and Anantnag. The times when the majority community would lend shoulders to the minorities were not seen  in as much  numbers and with the same passion as it happened in the past – even during the worst days of militancy in 1990s.

In  Sangrampora, Budgam ,when seven Kashmiri Pandits were massacred in March 1997, the whole of the village – all Muslims had turned up, shared their grief  and prevented them from migrating . They were sheltered in a safer place in Sheikhpora , very close to their original village , wherefrom they could go back to their homes and tend fields and orchards This time, there was nothing like this .

Internally, it shows that the government efforts guided by an ideology to restore Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley by all possible means are incomplete . They don’t fulfill the need to generate mutual confidence with the majority community of Kashmir . Unfortunately, some in the majority community, particularly the radical class that is gaining strength and acceptability , treats them as outsiders . They don’t buy their claim that they were becoming victims of the situation in which they had no option but to leave the Valley . And, as for those who continued to live in the Valley, the radical elements think that they are magnet for others to come to the Valley and settle there.

When the first migration had taken place, the Centre was having a tottering government – the Rajiv Gandhi government was on its last legs and it was followed by a loose combination of the VP Singh government . Today, it is very strong government at the Centre led by Prime Minister  Narendra Modi , therefore the migration even if it is a trickle of what it was in 1990s , it raises questions . The community is scared .

As far international dimension is concerned , it has given a jolt to the claim that Kashmir is peaceful and  path of returning to normalcy . It should also not be forgotten that Pakistan has already heightened its campaign on Kashmir , therefore , the time is to look at the priorities that the government should be pursuing in Kashmir .Otherwise , such interruptions can undo all the gains that have been made so far.

About the Author:

Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, and The Tribune. He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.


This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with it.

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