In a move to further strengthen the security situation in Kashmir an additional 25000 troops were ordered to move into the state. After the recovery of weapons and mines aimed at attacking Amarnath Yatris, a security advisory was issued by the Jammu and Kashmir administration, advising the tourists and Amarnath pilgrims to curtail their visit. In this situation, as the security forces and the administration work towards safeguarding Indian national interests in the affected regions, several journalists and politicians have eerily started peddling separatist propaganda, comparing the situation to that of the 1990s which had led to the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits.
In an attempt to equate the Kashmiri Pandit exodus with the government’s advisory calling for the return of Amarnath Yatris, Pankaj Pachauri tweeted, “India has progressed, in 1991 the Government merely provided JKSRTC buses for the #KashmiriPandits leaving the valley.”
— Pankaj Pachauri (@PankajPachauri) August 3, 2019
Pankaj Pachauri here essentially stated that this situation is similar to that of the 1990s wherein the Kashmiri Pandits had to be evacuated out of the valley for protection against atrocities at the behest of the separatists and Islamist militants.
Ghulam Nabi Azad, leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha from Congress and former CM of Jammu and Kashmir seems to echo his thoughts. At a press conference after the Congress’s Core Group on Kashmir met to discuss the prevailing situation, he stated that what is happening in Kashmir right now is exactly what had happened earlier in 1991. He stated, “The VP Singh government was supported by BJP and the party pressurised the Prime Minister to appoint Jagmohan as governor against the wishes of Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah. Jagmohan later provided free transport to the Kashmiri Pandits to leave for Jammu.”
He further stated that at present, thirty years later, the history is repeating itself. He said the governor’s administration has ordered the tourists and the pilgrims to Amarnath to leave Jammu and Kashmir and they are being provided with the free transport, for which there is no justification. This statement by the Congress leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad has met with severe condemnation.
All India Kashmiri Samaj (AIKS) condemns Statement of Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad linking exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990 with Governor Jagmohan and which exonerated Kashmiri Jihadis. Strong statement to set record straight and expose lies put out by Azad for vote bank. pic.twitter.com/DKYoW4LwvC
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) August 4, 2019
By comparing the present security advisory with the situation in 1991, Pankaj Pachauri and Ghulam Nabi Azad are echoing the sentiments of the separatists. The separatists were tormenting the Kashmiri Pandits, who were inflicted with assault, rape and murder. Overnight, their homes were seized and a sizeable community was rendered without any resources or means. In this horrific situation, the government of India has extended aid to the victims, rehabilitating them elsewhere which was against their voluntary wishes. The Kashmiri Pandits did not choose to be tortured at the hands of the separatists; but unfortunately they were and then they were left with no option but to flee. For, if they had stayed in the valley, they would not have survived to tell the tale. Several other left liberals have attempted to whitewash the genocide and forced exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. Over 600,000 Kashmiri Pandits lived in Kashmir before the exodus, however, today only about 2000-3000 remain in the valley. Apart from the Wandhama massacre in 1998, hundreds of murders and rapes took place, and several temples were destroyed in the valley. Kashmiri pandits were rendered homeless and turned refugees in their own country. A newspaper clipping shared by Kashmiri Pandit and journalist, Aditya Raj Kaul reminded one such left liberal of the institutionalised threats faced by Kashmiri Pandits.
‘Pandits Leave Kashmir Within 2 Days’ – Alsafa, 1990. Urdu newspaper in Kashmir published such threats on behalf of JKLF, Hizbul and other local Islamist organisations. Targeted killings of Pandits were organised. So, @mg2411, nobody asked us to leave. Correct your facts. pic.twitter.com/KlYzBZO6wp
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) August 3, 2019
Nevertheless, people like Pankaj Pachauri and Ghulam Nabi Azad have chosen to reiterate the separatists voice. The separatists peddled the narrative that the Kashmiri Pandits were removed from the valley by the government, indirectly as per BJP’s wishes so that the authorities can crack down on the remaining Muslims in the territory. By this, they essentially seek to declare Islamist militants as the victims and attempt to whitewash the atrocities that had been committed on the Kashmiri Pandits.
Over the period of 3 decades, several prominent journalists, including Barkha Dutt have echoed their stance. Now, with the troop deployment and security advisory, she, along with others including Sreenivasan Jain, Rajdeep Sardesai and politicians like Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti are attempting to establish how all this is causing fear and anxiety in the minds of the J&K residents. By this, they indicate towards the separatists because they are the only ones who have a reason to fear the security measures.
Pankaj Pachauri and Ghulam Nabi Azad have taken this one step forward and have actually stated that the situation is similar to the 1990s. They mean to establish that the tourists and pilgrims are being protected and safely sent off from the state, so that the government is free to crackdown on the remaining separatists in the state. While this may very well be true, the fact remains that these people should not have the audacity to compare the situation to that of the Kashmiri Pandit exodus. The Kashmiri Pandits were tortured, killed and raped, and the ethnic cleansing in the valley cannot just be whitewashed with some individuals peddling their personal propaganda.