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'No Kashmiri Pandit Returned After Article 370 Repeal'

Last updated on: May 16, 2024 12:38 IST
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'There was a statement by a minister that 30,000 Kashmiri Pandits have come back to the Kashmir Valley after the abrogation of Article 370, it is all b.......t and a white lie.'
'Nobody has come back.'

IMAGE: Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti members protest for the community's rights in Srinagar. Photograph: ANI Photo

Sanjay Tickoo is a socio-political activist and a member of the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti in Srinagar.

He is one of the few Kashmiri Pandits who never left the Kashmir Valley even at the peak of terrorism in the state.

Tickoo has been actively propagating for Kashmiri Pandits' rights and welcomes anyone who wants to hear his story.

What makes him unique is that the Kashmiri Pandits who decided to stay back rarely speak their heart to the media or take on the government if they are implementing any incorrect policies regarding Kashmiri Pandits.

"The BJP have not mentioned anything about the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley in their manifesto," Tickoo points out to Syed Firdaus Ashraf/ The first of a two-part interview:


What are the issues for Kashmiri Pandits in these elections?

I don't think there is any issue as on date for Kashmiri Pandits in general elections 2024.

The reason is because parliamentary elections are always seen on national issues.

Unfortunately, the party that used the miseries of those who left the Kashmir Valley in the 1990s always used to have in their manifesto one line about Kashmiri Pandits.

This party (the Bharatiya Janata Party) used to have one line in every manifesto on the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits. Unfortunately this time, they have not mentioned anything about Kashmiri Pandits in their manifesto.

IMAGE: Migrant workers' families protest in Srinagar against being posted in the Valley. Photograph: Umar Ganie for

You mean the BJP has no mention of rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in its 2024 manifesto?

Yes, they have not mentioned anything about the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley in their 2024 manifesto.

This holds true for parties like the Congress and others too. For us as a community, these parties cannot give us anything.

Parliamentarians from Kashmir will represent around 50 lakh (5 million) voters of Kashmir and we Kashmiri Pandits are only three percent of the population scattered everywhere around the world. But yes, if there were Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections things would surely have been different.

The BJP used to get 5 percent swing votes because of the Kashmiri Pandits issue in every election, but this time they did not mention anything about us.

Even in the Bihar assembly elections last time, Prime Minister Modi mentioned the Pulwama attacks and the Kashmiri Pandit issue, but this time he has not mentioned it so far.

Do Kashmiri Pandits feel that every political party has used them and did nothing for them?

As a non-migrant Kashmiri Pandit who never left the Kashmir Valley even at the height of militancy, I can surely say that no political party or government was bothered about Kashmiri Pandits.

They were least bothered about the 808 Hindu families left at about 272 places in the Kashmir Valley.

Political parties only spoke about migrants in Jammu or those who were forced to leave the Valley.

Those who stayed back in the Valley faced two guns -- one was from the State and another was from non-State actors.

The people who stayed back, stayed back in their own wisdom.

When the exodus took place in the 1990s it was a family decision and not a community decision to leave the Kashmir Valley.

IMAGE: A Kashmiri Pandit family returns to the Jagti migrants camp in Jammu after the targeted killings in the Valley. Photograph: ANI Photo

You mean the migration of Kashmir Pandit families from the Valley was when each family decided whether they wanted to leave or not?

Yes, and the same was the case then for the Kashmiri Muslims who went on their own to Pakistan to take training and become militants, as nobody told them to do so.

In both cases it was an individual decision rather than a community decision.

There is no doubt that Pakistan was involved in the training but if you as a Kashmiri Muslim did not want to go to Pakistan for arms training nobody was forcing you to do so.

After the abrogation of Article 370 has any Kashmiri Pandit returned to Kashmir?

There was a statement by a minister that 30,000 Kashmiri Pandits have come back to the Kashmir Valley after the abrogation of Article 370, it is all b……t and a white lie. Nobody has come back.

The only Kashmiri Pandits who came back on their own was in 1992-1993 in Baramulla.

They came back to Baramulla then because they were cloth merchants, retail chemists and they had their own businesses.

Are you sure that not a single Kashmiri Pandit family has moved back since Article 370 was revoked?

Yes, I am sure about it. We have records from 1990 till date on these issues. How many have left the Valley? How many have been killed so far? How many have got jobs? We also have records of how much land Kashmiri Pandits have with them in the Valley.

IMAGE: Jammu and Kashmir Youth Congress workers protest the killings of Kashmiri Pandits. Photograph: ANI Photo

So how many Kashmiri Pandits live in the Valley?

We have 808 Hindu families, and that includes Kashmiri Pandits.

We have Dogra Hindus and we have Punjabi Hindus who came to the Kashmir Valley after 1947.

How many Kashmiri Pandit families live in Kashmir, what would be that figure?

It is not more than 500 families. And their total population is around 2,000 to 2,250.

I saw this colony of Kashmiri Pandits in Budgam.

That colony was built for those whose family members got killed in the 1990s or they had left at the time of the exodus in the 1990s.

There are 35 families and you can call that a transit camp.

The rest of the people staying there are through PM package jobs and are government employees.

It was inaugurated by Ghulam Nabi Azad when he was chief minister and that colony was built by the government of Dr Manmohan Singh.

Why government employees?

The condition on which these Kashmiri Pandits go to live there is that they have to work in the Valley and only then they can hold onto their government jobs.

There are 5,700 people and when they got the job they were single, but some of them must have got married now and with kids. But you cannot call this the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Kashmir Valley.

Do you have the figures for how many Kashmiri Pandit families were there in the 1990s?

Yes, we had 77,137 Kashmiri Pandit families living in the Kashmir Valley as on December 31, 1989.

Now they are reduced to 525 families. And the migration is still going on.

It never stopped in spite of normalcy that you see because there is no normalcy as far as Kashmiri Pandits, who are in a minority, are concerned.

IMAGE: Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti president Sanjay Tickoo. Photograph: Umar Ganie for

When was the last time a Kashmiri Pandit was killed by these terrorists because he was a Hindu and a Kashmiri Pandit?

It was in October 2022 in Shopian district (of Puran Krishan Bhat).

For the last two years not a single Kashmiri Pandit was killed, don't you think this itself is a milestone?

Now you are talking like Home Minister Amit Shah because he plays such number games.

In 2021 when he was here and targeted killings were going on, I asked him why this killing was taking place in Kashmir valley? He countered me with the same question, how many KPs were killed from August 5 till now and in the past?

My point is that even in the month of February 2024 two Punjabi Hindus were killed in Srinagar.

So the killing is still going on. It all depends on these non-State actors as whenever they want they can go and kill anyone they want.

All these people died because they were Hindus and that was their only crime?

Not Hindu but representing India. And these militants can kill a Muslim also if he/she represents India. And since Kashmiri Pandits are fewer in number and spread across the valley we are more scared than the Kashmiri Muslims who are in a majority.

IMAGE: Kashmiri Pandits protest against the killing of Rahul Bhat, who was working in the revenue department in Budgam. Photograph: ANI Photo

What about the social interactions of Kashmiri Pandits with Kashmiri Muslims?

We have never been boycotted. In the early militancy peak of 1990s there were cases but after that this boycott of Kashmiri Pandits by Kashmiri Muslims never took place .

What Muslims are facing in the rest of India from the majority Hindu population through boycott system, this never happens to Kashmiri Pandits.

They are never boycotted economically or socially in Kashmir by the Muslims of Kashmir. And that is the reason we have survived for the last 35 years in Kashmir valley.

My milkman, vegetable vendor, chemist, doctor and all such people are Muslims.

What gave you the hope to stay back in Kashmir valley?

If you ask me today I think I made a big blunder to stay back in Kashmir valley because our sacrifice has never been given any recognition by either the government or the majority community.

And all those Kashmiri Pandit families who stayed back faced two guns -- one was that of the State and other was of non-State actors. And when I look back I feel we survived because of good relations with our Muslim friends.

Do your children ask you why you stayed back?

Now they are telling me this because just for survival you need money and lots of money.

When our children in the Kashmir Valley look at their cousins whose parents migrated during the exodus of 1990s to Jammu or Delhi, they see that they are doing much better economically than us in the Valley.

Our children feel that their cousins live a free life in other parts of India. And this is not restricted to Kashmiri Pandits only but to Kashmiri Muslims too who were left behind in the Valley.

When a Kashmiri Muslim family looks at their counterpart cousin who migrated to other parts of India they feel they are doing much better than them economically.

Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/

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