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This article was first published 2 years ago  » News » 'No hate calls from Kashmir mosques on January 19, 1990'

'No hate calls from Kashmir mosques on January 19, 1990'

Last updated on: May 09, 2024 12:30 IST
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'These statements which you are telling me were never uttered from mosques on that day.'
'And if this had happened, I would have got the report as the chief secretary of J&K.'

IMAGE: Kashmiri Pandits display placards at an event in New Delhi to mark the 30th anniversary of their mass exodus from the Kashmir Valley. Photograph: ANI Photo.

Moosa Raza served as the chief secretary of Jammu and Kashmir through its tumultuous times in 1989-1990, when events spiralled out of control in the picturesque border state, cross-border terrorism made its entry and Kashmiri Pandits left their native land, most of them never to return.

In the first of a two-part exclusive interview to Syed Firdaus Ashraf/, Moosa Raza says, "Even today, if you give Pandits a house and land in Kashmir they will not go back."


When Jagmohan allowed the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir, two theories come up. One was that he wanted to save the Kashmiri Pandits from the jihadis. The second theory was that Jagmohan moved Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir because he wanted the Indian Army to be let loose on Kashmiri Muslims to teach them a lesson. Which one is true?

Today you cannot answer that, what was on Jagmohan's mind.

I had a long discussion with Jagmohan after he came back as governor of J&K in 1990. I was the chief secretary of the state at that time. He came back with the belief that if Kashmiri militants were taken care of, then automatically development activity will take place.

I told him on his arrival as second-time governor of J&K that a lot of water has flowed under the bridge. The political thinking of Kashmiri Muslim leaders had changed by then.

He thought if he eliminated Kashmiri militants, then the situation will come in control, but I told him if you eliminate 10 Kashmiri militants, another 10 new recruits will join them. This will go on and that is what is happening till this date after 30 years.

We are killing Kashmiri militants even today, but more are coming up.

Do you think the abrogation of Article 370 was good for J&K?

Article 370 was a myth and there was no such thing in 2019 when it was abrogated. It was already a dead Article as all the clauses of Article 370 was diluted.

All the important Indian laws were applicable in J&K under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

The income tax of India's law was applicable to the state of J&K and so was customs law.

There was no Indian law which was not applicable to the state of J&K, except two laws of which one was 35A. It stated that outsiders will not get domicile of J&K and will not be able to buy land in J&K.

This law is not applicable to J&K alone, but many other parts of India, like Himachal Pradesh and even the Dangs area of Gujarat where you cannot buy land as an Indian.

The movie Kashmir Files created an impression that Kashmiri Muslims were the ones who drove out rhe Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley. Is it true?

I totally disagree with that statement.

I led a delegation of senior of Muslim political leaders of India at the insistence of the National Minorities Commission. They requested me to invite Kashmiri Pandits to join the delegation, but they did not join.

I went with leaders like Syed Shahabuddin and others to meet Kashmiri Pandits staying in refugee camps in Jammu. They were living in a bad state and it was the responsibility of the state government of J&K to ensure that they did not live in that pathetic condition, but the state government did not do anything to improve their living standards.

Why do many Kashmiri Pandits then say that on January 19, 1990, Muslims of Kashmir were calling for azaan from mosques in the middle of the night and telling the Muslims to come out and kill the kafirs Kashmiri Pandits? Is it not true?

I was there on that day in Kashmir in 1990. I got a call from Kashmiri Pandits when I was the chief secretary in the middle of the night that day. They told me that Kashmiri Muslims were using loudspeakers and calling for azaan in the middle of the night.

I immediately sent a police patrol and the Indian army to that particular area from where the Kashmiri Pandits had called me.

I reached that same spot at 2 am. I called the Kashmiri Pandits to the same spot and also Kashmiri Muslims to understand why were they calling for azaan in the middle of the night.

The Kashmiri Muslims then told me that it was the month of Ramzan and they were giving a call for Tahajjud namaaz which is held in the middle of the night. And they told me this happens every Ramzan and there was nothing new in it.

They were already doing that for many days in Ramzan, but on that particular day, January 19, 1990, fear crept into the minds of Kashmiri Pandits as they felt that the Kashmiri Muslims were instigating for future major violence in the state.

But it is with this particular day, January 19, 1990, that the narrative of Kashmir changes because Kashmiri Pandits’ lives were never the same after this call for azaan in the middle of the night. They also say the mosques were calling to drive out kafirs from Kashmir and they had to leave Kashmir immediately.

Do you mean to say that such statements were never made on January 19, 1990?

These statements which you are telling me were never uttered from mosques on that day. And if this had happened, I would have got the report as the chief secretary of J&K.

Did you ever meet Kashmiri Pandits to convince them that they should go back to Kashmir?

After retirement I went with a Muslim delegation to meet Kashmiri Pandits around 2010 or 2012, which I have mentioned in my book. I told them please return to Kashmir and I got letters signed from Kashmiri separatist leaders like Syed Ali Shah Geelani and many others who wanted the Pandits back in the Valley. I have reproduced that letter in my book. But still they never went back.

And the reason is that the Indian government gave them a lot of helping hand in resettling out of the Kashmir valley by then.

Many of the intelligent Kashmiri Pandits had already formed their roots in states like Punjab, Delhi and others. Their children got easy admission into colleges for engineering and medical courses easily in other states of India. Further they got married to locals and established themselves in those states. Therefore, they did not want to go back.

Even today, if you give them a house and land in Kashmir they will not go back. They cannot break the family connection of the last 30-40 years.

They are not going back because they know they will be killed. The narrative is that where Muslims are in a majority, they do not let non-Muslims live in peace. The Kashmir Files talks about this narrative.

I will give you another counter-narrative.

There is a village, Bijbihara, in Anantnag district. Even today there are two Kashmiri Pandit families living there. I met a Kashmiri Muslim family of that village in Chennai recently. I asked them, why were the Kashmiri Pandits not driven out from their village?

These Kashmiri Muslims from that village told me it is in their interest to keep the Kashmiri Pandits in their village. In their opinion, since the Kashmiri Pandits were living with them peacefully, the Indian Army never cordons off their area or does house to house search in their village. And if that happens, the Kashmiri Muslims suffer the most.

They then told me that in many Kashmir villages, Kashmiri Hindus were being kept safely by Kashmiri Muslims because they wanted no army cordons or searches in their homes.

The new generation of Kashmiri Muslims have not seen Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley for 30 years. Their alienation from Indian secularism is complete. Given this, do you see any positive things happening in future?

In his book A Study of History Arnold Toynbee writes, 'If there is a minority in a country which does not have a chance to become part of administration or rulership and remains only a sidelined minority, what is the solution for them?'

He writes, 'They should try to hone their skills, knowledge and emerge as a creative minority.'

When Sikander Butshikan massacred Kashmiri Pandits (1389-1413) in large numbers, after that they moved to other parts of India. After this incident they became a creative minority. They remained a creative minority and finally one among them, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, became the prime minister of India.

Indira Gandhi too in that way was a Kashmiri Pandit. All of her close aides were Kashmiri Pandits.

If you see RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) chief or top IB officers, they were Kashmiri Pandits.

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