Kashmiri Pandit Exodus: A Day of Commemoration

January 19th marks a day of commemoration for Kashmiri Pandits, a religious minority whose history and roots have been linked to Kashmir for more than 5,000 years. On this day in 1990, they were forcibly expelled from the Kashmir Valley and became refugees, leaving behind their homes and livelihoods. Today, Kashmir is largely devoid of Kashmiri Pandits due to a concerted plan of ethnic cleansing.

Background:

  • In the late 1980s, sophisticated weapons were reportedly smuggled into Kashmir from across the border by the Pakistan Army and its intelligence agency, the ISI. The Pandit community and the majority of Muslims were targeted by armed terrorists.
  • The brutal killings and intimidation led to hundreds of deaths and the forced migration of over 300,000 Pandits from the region.

The Exodus:

  • The forced migration of the Pandit community, known as the Exodus, began in 1989 with the targeted killings of prominent members of the community. The violence escalated, leading to mass killings and the destruction of religious shrines. Over 1,500 Kashmiri Pandits, including women and children, were brutally murdered and 50,000 peasant families were deprived of their land.

Current Situation:

  • The targeted killings of Kashmiri Pandits have continued, with the security situation along the India-Pakistan border remaining of great concern. The issues of the Pandit community have not been given serious consideration by the government, with their return to Kashmir being a promise made in political manifestos but not yet fulfilled.

Synopsis

The forced expulsion of the Kashmiri Pandit community was a tragic event in the history of Kashmir and its effects are still felt today. The ongoing tension and killings in the region continue to be a concern and the plight of the Pandit community must not be forgotten. The promise of their return to their homes in the valley must be fulfilled, in order to bring closure to this dark chapter in Kashmir’s history and to ensure that such atrocities are never repeated.

Written by IAS POINT

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