A few days ago, Republic TV telecast a Sting conducted by their reporters on four ex-terrorists who confessed that they had killed Kashmiri Pandits during the peak militancy period in 1989-90. Out of the three reporters who were part of this daring team, two happen to be Kashmiri Pandits with families and dear ones who suffered the 1990 exodus.
In September 1989, armed men shot dead Tikka Lal Taploo, a Kashmiri Pandit, political activist, outside his house. From then on, there was no looking back, as things kept on getting worse for the Minority Community that had always tried to be self-effacing, avoiding confrontation at all cost.
Although official figures are much lower, over 700 Kashmiri Pandits are said to have been killed between 1990 and 2011.
Yet, 27 years later the killers still roam free, with not even an FIR lodged against them. It took more than two decades for journalists and TV Channels to wake up to the fact that while they’d been waxing eloquent about terrorism in Kashmir and the ‘sufferings’ of the people in the Valley, the first victims of that terrorist violence are still waiting for justice!
There have been televised admissions of guilt by KP Killers like Farooq Ahmed Dar, better known as Bitta Karate, in the past. This man has admitted to ‘India Today’ journalists that he killed more than 20 Kashmiri Pandits. Another terrorist turned JKLF leader, Yasin Malik, also confessed on a BBC interview some years ago. However, none of these videos were used as evidence to nail these criminals. And so the years went by and these common killers metamorphosed into Hurriyat ‘leaders’ supposedly eligible for political ‘dialogue’ on the Kashmir Issue!
The Republic TV expose is the most recent one and credit is due to the reporters for showing courage by venturing into hostile and unsafe territory. They are said to have posed as documentary film-makers while interviewing the terrorists. The TV Channel has chosen to conceal the identity of these killers, since they have now given up arms. Does that mean no cases will be filed against them?
This reluctance to punish these terrorists, who snuffed out so many innocent Kashmiri Pandit lives, has been echoed by the Courts. On July 24, 2017, a Supreme Court Bench refused a plea to probe the mass murder of KPs during the height of militancy in 1989-90. This plea by a group of KP Activists, had sought a probe and the prosecution of several persons, including Yasin Malik, for murdering Kashmiri Pandits.
Towards the end of 1989, posters put up by militant organisations like Hizbul Mujahideen, had started appearing everywhere. These posters gave KPs three options: ‘Raliv, Tchaliv ya Galiv’ meaning ‘Convert, Leave or Die’.
By January 1990, the posters were accompanied by similarly worded, threatening articles in local Dailies and chilling warnings blared from mosque loudspeaker 24/7. An atmosphere of fear was deliberately created by killing Kashmiri Pandits, a knock at unsuspecting doors would be followed by fatal gunshots.
The video footage showing the Republic TV interview with Kashmiri Pandit killers was followed by a debate on this topic.
The Kashmiri Muslim panelists, as usual, refused to acknowledge the truth, prevaricating and diverting from what the expose revealed. Every time the exodus and killings of Kashmiri Pandits are mentioned, the Valley machinery goes into overdrive bringing up a host of grievances that seek to put the plight of the hapless Kashmiri Pandits on the backburner.
Nevertheless, the impact of the daring expose by Republic has had an impact. Perhaps for the first time, Congress politicians have been forced to call the KP killings “a shameful part of history” and also to admit that the exodus of this peaceful minority community was an ‘organised’ act.
After 27 years, what the Kashmiri Pandits need is justice and if television stings are not followed by action, there will never be closure in this lifetime for many of us. As journalist Anand Ranganathan has tweeted so poignantly in a series of tweets about Kashmiri Pandits: “We are a nation that wishes the Kashmiri Pandits all happiness and joy in the after-life. Wait just a little longer, please, just a little.”