On this day three decades ago, a shadow descended upon Kashmir when jihadi militants gave the Kashmiri Pandits three options — “join us, die or flee”. Lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits fled from Kashmir and became homeless refugees in their own nation while a large number of them were killed. Their houses were burned with other properties destroyed by the militants, making the Pandits desolate and helpless as they huddled in the refugee camps.
Their crime — fidelity to the Motherland. From the day J&K became a part of India till that fateful night, Kashmiri Pandits have always asserted their Bharatiyata with pride. That pride became their undoing when jihadi militants came to dominate the valley.
Decades have passed, and the Pandit community has settled throughout India, some in Namma Bengaluru. Their fellow citizens welcomed them with open arms and attempted to heal the wounds of 1990. But the longing for homeland is not easy to forget. Many Pandits still say, ‘Next Shivratri will be celebrated in Kashmir’. They still have the resolve to return to their land.
The Central Government led by PM Modi has strengthened this resolve with the abrogation of Article 370 paving the way for peace in the valley and opening up the possibility of Pandits being able to safely return to their homeland with honour and dignity in the near future.