Kashmir: Night of Jan, 19, 1990
On Jan, 04, 1990, a local Urdu newspaper, Aftab,published a press release issued by Hizb-ul-
Mujahideen, asking all Pandits to leave the Valleyimmediately. Al Safa, another local daily repeated
the warning.These warnings were followed byKalashnikov-wielding masked Jehadis carrying
out military-type marches openly. Reports ofkilling of Kashmiri Pandits continued to pour in.
Bomb explosions and sporadic firing by militantsbecame a daily occurrence.Explosive and inflammatory speeches beingbroadcast from the public address systems of themosques became frequent. Thousands of audiocassettes, carrying similar propaganda, wereplayed at numerous places in the Valley, in orderto instill fear into the already terrified KashmiriPandit community. Recalling these events, theformer Director General of Jammu and KashmirPolice, Shri M M Khajooria says, “The mischief ofthe summer of 1989 started with serving noticeto the prominent members of the minoritycommunity to quit Kashmir .
The letter said, ‘We order you to leave Kashmirimmediately, otherwise your children will be
harmed- we are not scaring you but this land isonly for Muslims, and is the land of Allah. Sikhs
and Hindus cannot stay here’. The threateningnote ended with a warning, ‘If you do not obey,
we will start with your children. KashmirLiberation, Zindabad”. They signaled the
implementation of their intentions quite blatantly.M. L. Bhan of Khonmoh, Srinagar, a government
employee, was killed on Jan 15, 1990. Baldev RajDutta, an operator in Lal chowk, Srinagar, was
kidnapped on the same day. His dead body wasfound four days later, on Jan 19, 1990, at Nai
Sarak, Srinagar.The body bore tell-tale marks ofbrutal torture.
Night of Jan, 19, 1990
The night witnessed macabre happenings, thelike of which had not been witnessed by Kashmiri
Pandits after the Afghan rule.Those thatexperienced the fear of that night are unlikely to
forget it in their life time. For future generations,it will be a constant reminder of the brutality of
Islamic radicals, who had chosen the timing verycarefully. “Farooq Abdullah, whose government
had all but seized to exist, resigned. Jagmohanarrived during the day to take charge as theGovernor of the State.”2 He took over the chargeof the Governor just the previous night atJammu.He had made efforts to reach Srinagarduring the previous day, but the plane had toreturn to Jammu from Pir Panjal Pass, due toextremely bad weather. Though curfew wasimposed to restore some semblance of order, ithad little effect. The mosque pulpits continued tobe used to exhort people to defy curfew and join
Jehad against the Pandits, while armed cadres ofJKLF marched through the streets of the Valley,
terrorizing them no end.
As the night fell, the microscopic communitybecame panic-stricken when the Valley began
reverberating with the war-cries of Islamists,who had stage-managed the whole event withgreat care; choosing its timing and the slogansto be used. A host of highly provocative,communal and threatening slogans, interspersedwith martial songs, incited the Muslims to comeout on the streets and break the chains of‘slavery’. These exhortations urged the faithful togive a final push to the Kafir in order to ring inthe true Islamic order. These slogans were mixedwith precise and unambiguous threats toPandits.They were presented with three choices— Ralive, Tsaliv ya Galive (convert to Islam,leave the place or prish). Tens of thousands ofKashmiri Muslims poured into the streets of the
Valley, shouting ‘death to India’ and death toKafirs.These slogans, broadcast from the loud speakers
of every mosque, numbering roughly 1100,exhorted the hysterical mobs to embark onJehad. All male Muslims, including their childrenand the aged, wanted to be seen to beparticipating in this Jehad.Those who hadorganized such a show of force in the middle of acold winter night, had only one objective; to putthe fear of death into the hearts of the alreadyfrightened Pandits. In this moment of collectivehysteria, gone was the facade of secular, tolerant,cultured, peaceful and educated outlook ofKashmiri Muslims, which the Indian intelligentsiaand the liberal media had made them to wear for
their own reasons.
Most of the Kashmiri Muslims behaved as if theydid not know who the Pandits were. This frenzied
mass hysteria went on till Kashmiri Pandits’despondency turned into desperation, as the
night wore itself out.For the first time after independence of Indiafrom the British rule, Kashmiri Pandits foundthemselves abandoned to their fate, stranded intheir own homes, encircled by rampaging mobs.Through the frenzied shouts and blood-curdlingsloganeering of the assembled mobs, Panditssaw the true face of in¬tolerant and radicalIslam. It represented the complete antithesis ofthe over-rated ethos of Kashmiriyat that wassupposed to define Kashmiri ethos.The pusillanimous Central Government wascaught napping and its agencies in the State,particularly the army and other para militaryforces, did not consider it necessary to intervene,in the absence of any orders. The State
Government had been so extensively subvertedthat the skeleton staff of the administration atSrinagar (the winter capital of the State hadshifted to Jammu in November 1989) decided notto confront the huge mobs. Delhi was too faraway, anyway.
Hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits phoned everyone inauthority at Jammu, Srinagar and Delhi, to save
them from the sure catastrophe that awaitedthem. The pleadings for help were incessant. But
not a soldier came to their rescue. Therefore,Kashmiri Pandits found best protection inhuddling together indoors, frozen with fear,praying for the night to pass. The foreboding ofthe impending doom was too over-powering tolet them have even a wink of sleep.The Pandits could see the writing on the wall. Ifthey were lucky enough to see the night through,they would have to vacate the place before theymet the same fate as Tikka Lal Taploo and many others. The Seventh Exodus was surely staringthem in the face. By morning, it became apparentto Pandits that Kashmiri Muslims had decided tothrow them out from the Valley. Broadcastingvicious Jehadi sermons and revolutionary songs,interspersed with blood curdling shouts andshrieks, threatening Kashmiri Pandits with dire
consequences, became a routine ‘Mantra’ of theMuslims of the Valley, to force them to flee from
Kashmir. Some of the slogans used were:“Zalimo, O Kafiro, Kashmir harmara chod do”.
(O! Merciless, O! Kafirs leave our Kashmir)“Kashmir mein agar rehna hai, Allah-ho-Akbar
kahna hoga”(Any one wanting to live in Kashmir will have toconvert to Islam)La Sharqia la gharbia, Islamia! Islamia!From East to West, there will be only Islam“Musalmano jago, Kafiro bhago”,
(O! Muslims, Arise, O! Kafirs, scoot)“Islam hamara maqsad hai, Quran hamara dasturhai, jehad hamara Rasta hai”(Islam is our objective, Q’uran is ourconstitution, Jehad is our way of our life)
“Kashmir banega Pakistan”(Kashmir will become Pakistan)“Kashir banawon Pakistan, Bataw varaie, Batneiwsaan”(We will turn Kashmir into Pakistan alongwithKashmiri Pandit women, but without their menfolk)“Pakistan se kya Rishta? La Ilah-e- Illalah”(Islam defines our relationship with Pakistan)Dil mein rakho Allah ka khauf; Hath mein rakhoKalashnikov.(With fear of Allah ruling your hearts, wield aKalashnikov)“Yahan kya chalega, Nizam-e- Mustafa”(We want to be ruled under Shari’ah)(We want to be ruled under Shari’ah)“People’s League ka kya paigam, Fateh, Azadi
aur Islam”(“What is the message of People’s League?Victory, Freedom and Islam.”)Wall posters in fairly large letters, proclaimingKashmir as ‘Islamic Republic of Kashmir’,became a com¬mon sight in the entire Valley. Sowere the big and prominent advertisements inlocal dailies, proclaiming their intent. ‘Aim of thepresent struggle is the supremacy of Islam inKashmir, in all walks of life and nothing else. Anyone who puts a hurdle in our way will beannihilated’.Press release of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM)published in the morning edition of Urdu Daily‘Aftab’ of April, 01, 1990. ‘Kashmiri Panditsresponsible for duress against Muslims shouldleave the Valley within two days’. Head lines ofUrdu Daily, Al Safa, of April, 14, 1990.
‘With Kalashnikov in one hand and Quran in the
other the Mujahids would openly roam the