Kashmiri Pandits mourn 1990 'genocide' at Raj Ghat, demand closure

New Delhi


 Around 50-70 Kashmiri Pandits, including school children, observed a silent protest here on Saturday at Raj Ghat-- the resting place of Mahatma Gandhi -- commemorating the 29th year of their forced exodus from their homeland.

Nearly half a million Kashmiri Pandits were forced out of Kashmir by terrorists and Islamic fanatics in 1990 during a high tide of militancy in the region. Most of the displaced took refuge in Jammu where they lived in camps and many came to the national capital.

Amit Raina, spokesperson of solidarity group "Roots for Kashmir", told IANS: "We are the only community which never indulged in any violence. Even when we were victimised we never resorted to a counter-violence. 

"The place for the protest was chosen to imbibe in the next generation the spirit of non-violence. To teach them that the struggle should continue but with a spirit of Mahatma Gandhi."

Asked about their complaints, Raina responded that even after 29 years, not a single FIR has resulted in conviction. He demanded that the exodus be recognised as a genocide, an ethnic cleansing, and a Special Investigation Team be formed to look into the killings. 

"The government must understand one thing - that we are not economic migrants. We are victims of a genocide. During the exodus of 1990, 1,386 Kashmiri Pandits were killed, 282 FIRs were filed and none resulted in conviction," he said. 

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Raina's group was rejected by a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice J.S. Kheher and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud in 2017, with the contention that the matter was too old to leave any credible evidence. 

Raina insisted that when demands can be made for a probe in the death of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose -- who is believed to have died in a plane crash in 1945 in Taiwan, the cases of those killed during the 1989-90 can also be considered. 

Another refugee, who had come to Delhi post the exodus, whether returning back is an option, he told IANS that the "gap has widened too much" between Kashmiris who live there and them. 

"The problem is not social but political. What is the point of returning when I will constantly have to live in fear of being attacked or disappearance," Virendra Kachroo said. 

"Those who boasted about killing openly like Yasin Malik and Bitta Karate (both of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, a separatist group) are still roaming free. In Delhi, there is at least a hope of justice ... who will listen to us there (Kashmir)?

"We need a closure. Not return. We want action against the culprits," he added.-IANS