Eleanor Roosevelt once said:
"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin?
In small places, close to home -- so close and so small that they cannot be seen
on any maps of the world. [...] Unless these rights have meaning there, they
have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them
close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."
It is clear that the community of Pandits in Kashmir, regardless of their Hindu
faith, has a place in society in Kashmir. Kashmir's Muslims and Pandits have
coexisted for centuries as brothers, and they continue to do so today.
Thousands of Kashmiri Pandits fled their motherland and migrated to other areas
of India in the early 1990s as a result of the state's violence. The majority of
the Pandit community living in the valley left the valley as the militant
violence overwhelmed the state of J&K.In the beginning, they lived in filthy
refugee camps, but by 1997, the majority had gone on to either suitable homes in
Jammu or other Indian cities. The refugee camps' living conditions were
The purpose of this article is to elucidate what happened to Kashmiri Pandits in
1990, as well as to examine the consequences of mass migration and their impact
on diverse aspects of life. Let us move further and answer various questions
like- Who are Kashmiri Pandits? What were the exact reasons for the exodus? Were
any human rights violated? Is there hope for returning them to their motherland?
Who are Kashmiri Pandits?
The Kashmiri Pandits (also known as Kashmiri Brahmins) are a group of Kashmiri
Hindus and a part of the larger Saraswat Brahmin community of India. They belong
to the Pancha Gauda Brahmin group from the Kashmir Valley, a mountainous region
located within the Indian-administered union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Kashmiri Pandits originally lived in the Kashmir Valley before Muslim influence
entered the region, following which large numbers converted to Islam. They are
the only remaining Hindu community native to Kashmir.
Voice of terror: A conspiracy to remove Kashmiri Pandits
Tracing back to 1975, Sheikh Abdullah agreed to decisions made by the federal
government in Jammu and Kashmir to merge the state into India under the 1975
Indira–Sheikh Accord. Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir, the People's League in Indian
Jammu and Kashmir, and the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) rooted in
Pakistan-administered Azad Jammu and Kashmir were among those who denounced the
In such an era, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) intended to spread
Wahhabism in place of Sufism in order to foster religious unity in the country.
In the 1980s, Sheikh Abdullah's government began Islamizing Kashmir by changing
the names of around 2,500 villages from their native names to new Islamic ones.
Sheikh also began giving communal lectures at mosques, which were evocative of
his aggressive pro-independence speeches from the 1930s. He also referred the
Kashmiri Hindus as mukhbir or Indian military informants.
In Kashmir, the formation of the Muslim United Front, the forefront of activists
Jamaat-e-Islami, aroused fear in Kashmiri Pandits. During the state assembly
election, they promoted their notion by mentioning the Islamic resistance
movement and Pakistan's ISI's active involvement in it. The Pakistani ISI funds
a terrorist organisation known as Hizbul-e-Mujahideen (HM).
JKLF was a supporter
of ISI, and they used to spread a lot of misinformation among the Kashmiri
Muslim people in order to get support from them and aid in the exodus of Pandits
from the valley. They used to foster anti-Hindu attitudes in their training
camps by persuading the masses to cleanse the valley of these Hindus, no matter
how minuscule their numbers were. In the valley, there should be no Hindus. This
was the beginning of displacing Kashmiri Pandits, and then came the night of
19th January, 1990: The night of the exodus
The date was January 19, 1990, and the days were chilly and the nights were
unpleasant. Around 9 p.m., eardrums were almost pierced by loud and thunderous
Islamic and pro-Pakistan slogans raised collectively by a multitude of humans
and relayed through powerful loudspeakers. These slogans were not unfamiliar to
Kashmiri Pandits. 3
The sights on the city's streets, squares, and open areas had to be seen to be
believed. Thousands of Muslims, young and old, children and women, descended
into the streets, gesticulating vehemently and chanting slogans in support of
Islam, Pakistan, and the insurgency The Pandits found that overnight their
neighbours had changed color. Pandit and Muslim neighbours known to one another
for generations began to behave like strangers.
Suspicions loomed largely and in
a few days the entire atmosphere changed and the Pandit came to be called 'the
other'. The government was knocked out by a single night of defiance and revolt
and the next morning not a single policeman was visible anywhere in the city.
They had withdrawn to their barracks or hid in their homes as the administrative
machinery had collapsed and law and order crumbled. From the next morning viz.
20th of January, 1990 it was the rule of the mosque, the priest and the
Islamists. Loudspeakers fixed to mosque tops, blurred uninterruptedly cautioning
the Pandits to leave the Valley. 
Pandits had no choice but to flee their old homelands, including their homes,
hearths, properties, jobs, businesses, farms, orchards, temples, shrines,
cremation grounds, Gods, deities, and ancestors' ashes. They enlisted whatever
mode of transportation they could, packed a bag full of clothes, and left the
Valley for unknown and uncharted territory. They left in small groups for fear
of being apprehended and slaughtered.
Jagmohan replied that if the Pandits decide to leave the valley, then they will
stay in the refugee camps that were set up by the Indian government in Jammu
because the political will of the Indian government was not in favour of
intervening in the incident. "However, if they decide to stay back, then he
would not be able to guarantee the safety of the Pandits in the valley", which
clearly illustrates that there is no one in the valley who can wipe Kashmiri
Pandits' tears. 
Human rights violation of Kashmiri Pandits
Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in
the world, from birth until death. They apply regardless of where you are from,
what you believe or how you choose to live your life.
Human rights are being violated at every moment in the Indian administered
portion of Kashmir. Whether it is murder, abductions, torture, rape, or sexual
abuse, it is repression and intimidation throughout their day to day lives, they
suffer the oppression of freedom of speech. Militant action undertaken by the
Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front has resulted in the ethnic cleansing of hundreds
of thousands of Kashmiri Hindu Pandits, who make up around 3% of the valley's
Human rights activists have accused security forces in the north Indian state of
Jammu and Kashmir of employing rape and molestation as a punishment and
intimidating technique against civilians suspected of sympathising with
militants by armed personnel representing India's central government. Armed
soldiers, including the Army, the Central Reserve Police Force, and the Border
Security Force, are believed to number between 3 and 5 lakh. According to
Liaquat Ali Khan, an academic writer, these abuses in Kashmir are not sanctioned
by the government but are easier to carry out because to the law's authority to
isolate and search villages and regions.
Terrorist organisations such as the JKLF and the Hizbul Mujahideen, as well as
about a hundred other groups, have raped and murdered Hindu people. Over three
lakh Hindus have been compelled to flee the Kashmir valley, resulting in
internal displacement to refugee camps in Jammu and New Delhi. Muslim citizens
who are perceived to be political opponents of terrorists or who are suspected
of being informers have also been raped or killed. Pandits in Kashmir were
offered three options: escape, convert, or death. No human rights activists
questioned the biggest ethnic cleansing of Hindus in independent India's
history. Nobody objected when it was made clear that they wanted Hindu women but
not Hindu men.
Now the question arises, where were the human rights? Do Kashmiri Pandits don't
deserve that too being a citizen of a country? Nobody came to the rescue, and no
one offered assistance. Where were the human rights advocates when men had no
choice but to slaughter their wives and daughters in order to shield them from
the evil? Terrorism is the worst foe of human rights, and the evacuation of
Kashmiri Pandits was nothing more than an act of terrorism. Human rights cannot
and should not take precedence over human life.
Abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and the continued struggle?
After the repealment of Article 370 of our Indian Constitution, this article was
considered to give some special powers to Jammu and Kashmir. It was meant that
after abolishing this, it will restore all human rights of Kashmiri Pandits.
Many of the things that were illegal were permissible before Article 370 was
repealed, and J&K was freed as a result. Sex trafficking, child marriage, and
other forms of child marriage are now prohibited. Women and children in Kashmir
now have the same rights as the rest of India.
The desire to return to the Valley grew stronger with time, but it may have been
more of a concept than an eagerness. Successive governments have stated that
they will assist in this process, but the reality in Kashmir has ensured that
this is simply a wish. In the last two decades, efforts to relocate Pandits in
the Valley have resulted in ghetto-like constructions being built in various
sections of Kashmir, surrounded by heavily guarded, implying that normal life is
The community has come to the realisation that the Valley is no
longer the same as it was in 1990. In several cases, their properties were
vandalised right away. Abrogation of article 370 and Section 35A was immense for
Kashmiri Pandits , they were among the first to applaud, seeing it as long
overdue "revenge" for what had occurred to them three decades before.
Nonetheless, their recovery appears to be as tough as it has always been.
Conclusion and way ahead
This is a call to action for the thousands of young people who have scattered in
search of a better life. "Vasudev Kutumbakam
," which means "This planet is a
family, and we are all members of it
," for generations. Unfortunately, we have
all turned to a zero-tolerance approach to its profound lesson, resulting in
several misfortunes. Human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir are one of
This is an appeal because there is a fear among us that the
community is crumbling at its current rate, and we need to protect them before
they become lost. It is right of passage to speak up for Kashmiri pandits, to
help them reclaim their lost status and return to the valley, to their homeland,
with honour and dignity, for they deserve it.
The higher authorities should not be used for selfish enrichment. They should
strive to negotiate with the separatists, putting their selfishness aside. Few
Muslim separatist political leaders are actively working to reintegrate their
fellow Kashmiris but that won't suffice until the peacemakers make every effort
to integrate the separatists into the mainstream not only to bring Kashmiri Pandits back but also the lost Indian civilisation who contributed
to language, linguistics and grammar, philosophy and religion, aesthetics and
historiography, astrology and mathematics.
- Quote taken from- https://unfoundation.org/blog/post/10-inspiring-eleanor-roosevelt-quotes/#:~:text=%E2%80%9CWhere%2C%20after%20all%2C%20do,or%20office%20where%20he%20works.
- Page no. 6-7, European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS),
Amsterdam, July 2017.- https://www.efsas.org/EFSAS-The%20Exodus%20of%20Kashmiri%20Pandits.pdf
- Definition taken from-