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Prelude to the final exodus and ethnic cleansing in Kashmir
Year 1986 will always be remembered as a year in the History of Modern Kashmir when the roots of secularism were not only shaken but also made Secularism a fast dying tree in Kashmir.
It was the time when the state of Jammu and Kashmir was having a weak government supported by Congress and the CM was GM Shah, the Brother in law of Dr. Farooq Abdullah, his government itself was created by Indira Gandhi style of toppling the non Congress Governments in India and the government of Dr. Farooq Abdullah was first to be replaced among the 3 major non congress states in India. AP and Karnataka were the other two.
Time passed quickly and the sulking JKPCC-I chief Mufti sayeed who wanted to be the CM tried hard for a bargain to get the CM position by lobbying with Rajiv Gandhi’s coterie but was unable to get GM shah removed. His argument was that Congress had 29 MLAs and GM Shah has just 13 MLAs.
Congress under him played its communal card, a young Moulvi of South Kashmir Qazi Nisar was covertly supported by congress to create disturbances in that region and make the administration of GM shah look a failure in the eyes of centre. Anantnag town was about to be made the laboratory of hate in Kashmir.
Anantnag, the major town of South Kashmir falls on the main Highway connecting the valley to Jammu. Mufti Sayeed also hails from the same district. During those winter days of 1986, the spark of terror started with as many believe, with close coordination and support of Mufti Sayeed to Qazi Nisar. Qazi slaughtered a cow in the centre of Anantnag and it shook the foundations of the social fabric of Kashmir as no action was taken against him.
During this charged atmosphere, a rumor was spread that Kashmiris (Muslims) were being tragetted in jammu region and suddenly truckloads of people start arriving on the Highway from Jammu in small locality of Vanpoh and what followed was, selective looting of Kashmiri Pandit shops and properties.
This did not stop there, next morning the temples and cows were attacked and many temples in and around Anantnag main town were looted and burnt to be followed by the looting of pandit ouseholds and orchids in other areas.
Vanpoh, Janglatmandi, Lokbhavan, Danter areas of Anantnag were attacked. But thank god, no killing of Pandits took place and it was confined to looting, burning and desecrating temples.
What followed was worse, under the directions of Qazi Nisar there was a boycott of all Pandit businesses, and suddenly the friends and neighbors gave pandit s a new name of kafir and "Gair Muslim".
This attack on the Pandits got no response or reaction from rest of India and not even from parts of our state of J&K which had significant Hindu majority.
The attacks shook the entire community of Pandits in the state and after many years, a sense of unity was seen in the community, Even if just fewer than 3.5% of J&K state’s population comprised of them, Pandits took a mass leave and protested against the atrocities on them and inaction of the state government. The timing of these attacks was tactically planned so that the main festival of pandits - Mahashivrathri could be targeted, The attacks had brought misery into the small community of pandits in Kashmir but the entire community decided to celebrate Shivrathri as simple as possible to protest the attacks on pandits and inaction of the Government.
The government as usual was completely in the sense of denial whereby denied any well organised attacks on Minority. The main players of the entire episode Mufti and Qazi Nisar had the last laugh when the Government of GM shah was dismissed by the then governor Jagmohan… to the dismay of Mufti as he even dissolved the assembly.
Pandits were elated with the news of sacking of GM Shah Ministry and their faith in India got firmer but it made them even stronger congress supporter… not knowing what's in store for them…which is going to worse than what anyone can imagine.
As time passed, 1986 attacks, which were thought to be an aberration then, are now remembered as the dress rehearsal for what came in 1990… a complete annihilation of the entire pandit community from their land of birth.
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