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‘I did my best to stem the exodus’

The former J&K governor defends his record.

Written by Jagmohan |
January 14, 2011 3:04:54 am

I am deeply dismayed to see that a national daily of the standing of The Indian Express should have given so much prominence (‘Forces,Jagmohan,Mufti Sayeed drove Pandits out: Farooq’s brother’,IE,January 10),to an apparently false allegation of Mustafa Kamal,a politician of little standing,about the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in “early 1990”. Is it believable that practically all the members of a highly intelligent community like that of Kashmiri Pandits would leave,from every village,town and city,their hearths and homes,without caring for their properties,business,children schooling and their future,merely because some one in government asks them to do so? The concoction is writ large on the face of the allegation itself. And yet,shockingly,it has received wide publicity in your newspaper!

Let me tell your readers,on the basis of concrete facts and contemporaneous records,what the conditions were in the Valley before my arrival on the scene on January 19,1990,and how a permissive and paralysed coalition government,headed by Dr Farooq Abdullah,had virtually abdicated all authority to the militants and allowed them to establish complete sway over the Valley.

From June 19,1989 to January 19,1990,that is,in six months,there were 319 violent incidents in the Valley — 21 armed attacks,114 bomb blasts,112 arsons and 72 incidents of mob violence. To demonstrate to the whole world their total hold over the Valley,the militants kidnapped,on December 8,Dr Rubaiya Sayeed,daughter of the Union home minister,from the gate of Srinagar’s Lal Ded Hospital,and released her only after the state and Central governments capitulated and conceded their demand of freeing five top terrorists. This capitulation left the general public in no doubt about the ultimate victory of the militants. Even the doubting Thomases went over to their side and swelled their ranks.

Under a sinister plan to throw out “infidels” and “agents” of the Union from the Valley,Kashmiri Pandits were especially targeted. Prominent members of the community were picked up for slaughter,one by one. For example,Tikka Lal Tiploo,leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party,was shot dead on September 14,Judge N.K. Ganjoo on November 4 and journalist P.N. Bhatt on December 28.

The terror-stricken Pandit community,in a memorandum dated January 16,1990,to the then governor,General K.V. Krishna Rao,said: “Instead of the government,it is the militants who are the de facto rulers in the Valley today… Happenings in Anantnag,Sopore,Baramulla,Tral,Nurran,Pulwama,Ishber,Vicharnag,Shopian and other places in the Valley are indicative of the fundamentalists’ designs regarding their planned targets of attack on the minorities… The pace of exodus has further accelerated now… Not even a single assailant of the minority leaders and others has either been identified or apprehended by the police.”

Soon after I took over,I did my best to stem the exodus. This would be clear from the press note of March 7,1990,which was given wide publicity at that time. This note,inter alia,said: “Jagmohan appealed to the members of the Pandit community who have temporarily migrated to Jammu to return to the Valley. He offered to set up temporary camps at four places,namely,Srinagar,Anantnag,Baramulla and Kupwara for those who return from Jammu.”

In the meanwhile,treacherous and brutal killings of innocent Kashmiri Pandits continued in the Valley. Those killed included prominent persons like engineer B.K. Ganjoo,poet Sarvanand Premi and his young son Virender Kaul,Professor K.L. Ganjoo and his wife,the teacher C.L. Pandita. Press notices were prominently put out in the widely-read Srinagar dailies Aftab and Alsafa,requiring Kashmiri Pandits to leave within 48 hours,failing which they would run the risk of being exterminated. Photocopies of these notices have been printed by me in my book My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir.

There are many other pieces of hard evidence which show that the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits was caused by relentlessly pursuing the ISI-sponsored plan of “killing one and frightening 1,000.” Disinformation was built into this plan. Tragically,for petty political ends,persons like Mustafa Kamal have been committing the crime of disinformation. They have been butchering truth,while the militants have been butchering individuals.

The writer was governor of Jammu and Kashmir between January and May 1990

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