Kashmiri Columnist Relives Horrors of Forced Exodus of Hindus from Valley

Where were the saviours of humanity when my feeble, old grandfather stood with two kitchen knives and an old rusted axe ready to kill my mother and me in order to save us from the much worse fate that awaited us if we landed in the hands of terrorists on the same fateful night. My people were told to flee, convert or die.

Sunanda Vashisht (Indian Columnist)

(at the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the US Congress)

Crux of the Matter
  • On 14th November Indian columnist Sunanda Vashisht made a stirring and poignant testimony before the US Congress. Her powerful testimony brought up the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus during 1989-90 in front of the international audience. This genocide marked the beginning of the insurgency problem in Kashmir.
  • Kashmir has become a polarising topic of discussion at the global level after the recent abrogation of Article 370. Ms Vashisht comapred the brutality of Kashmir in the last 3 decades with ISIS to contextualise it for the global audience.
  • She recounted the cold-blooded gangrape and slaughter of Girija Tickoo as well as the slaying of B K Ganjoo by militants. She insinuated the complicity of the local mosques as they blared warnings of “flee, convert or die” to the Hindu minorities in 1990.
  • “The Right to Life is the most fundamental human right, all other rights flow from it. And terrorism is the ultimate opponent of human rights.” Saying this, she mentioned the recent murders of traders, shopkeepers and truck drivers by militants to thwart return to normalcy.
  • She further defended the abrogation of Article 370 and its role in restoring human rights and equality in the militancy-ravaged area. “India has not occupied Kashmir and Kashmir was always an integral part of India. India is not just a 70-year-old identity, but a 5000-year-old civilisation. There is no India without Kashmir, and no Kashmir without India.”

Exodus of Kashmiri Hindus – 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. Of the approximately 300,000 to 600,000 Hindus living in the Kashmir Valley in 1990 only 2,000–3,000 remain there in 2016. According to the Indian government, more than 62,000 families are registered as Kashmiri refugees including some Sikh and Muslim families. Most families were resettled in Jammu, National Capital Region surrounding Delhi and other neighbouring states. Read More