The fearful night of January 19 in Kashmir

Vijaya Laxmi Tripura

Much to our dismay, a huge mob started gathering in front of our house; a vast stretch of green which served as a playground generally. They gesticulated aggressively and repeated the slogans emanating from the Mosques. Mostly it was pro- Pakistan and pro-Islam sloganeering. Some verses, songs, anti-India vitriolic and muffled slogans of what came across as impulsive & rabid rage, surely unnerved all of us. The Arabic verses were some sort of adulation for Islamic conquests and tales of bravado against Kuffar and Kaafir.

This is how someone was recollecting the fearful night of January 19, 1990 – a night where radical Muslims in the locality gave just two options to the Hindus – convert to Islam or leave Kashmir.

On Jan, 04, 1990, a local Urdu newspaper, Aftab, published a press release issued by Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, asking all Pandits to leave the Valley immediately. Al Safa, another local daily repeated the warning.These warnings were followed by Kalashnikov-wielding masked Jehadis carrying out military-type marches openly. Reports of killing of Kashmiri Pandits continued to pour in. Bomb explosions and sporadic firing by militants became a daily occurrence.

Explosive and inflammatory speeches being broadcast from the public address systems of the mosques became frequent. Thousands of audio cassettes, carrying similar propaganda, were played at numerous places in the Valley, in order to instill fear into the already terrified Kashmiri Pandit community. Recalling these events, the former Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police, Shri M M Khajooria says, “The mischief of the summer of 1989 started with serving notice to the prominent members of the minority community to quit Kashmir.

The letter said, ‘We order you to leave Kashmir immediately, otherwise your children will be harmed- we are not scaring you but this land is only for Muslims, and is the land of Allah. Sikhs and Hindus cannot stay here’. The threatening note ended with a warning, ‘If you do not obey, we will start with your children. Kashmir Liberation, Zindabad.”

They signaled the implementation of their intentions quite blatantly. M. L. Bhan of Khonmoh, Srinagar, a government employee, was killed on Jan 15, 1990. Baldev Raj Dutta, an operator in Lal chowk, Srinagar, was kidnapped on the same day. His dead body was found four days later, on Jan 19, 1990, at Nai Sarak, Srinagar.The body bore tell-tale marks of brutal torture.

What happened on January 19, 1990?

The night witnessed macabre happenings, the like of which had not been witnessed by Kashmiri Pandits after the Afghan rule.Those that experienced the fear of that night are unlikely to forget it in their life time. For future generations, it will be a constant reminder of the brutality of Islamic radicals, who had chosen the timing very carefully. “Farooq Abdullah, whose government had all but seized to exist, resigned. Jagmohan arrived during the day to take charge as the Governor of the State.”

He took over the charge of the Governor just the previous night at Jammu.He had made efforts to reach Srinagar during the previous day, but the plane had to return to Jammu from Pir Panjal Pass, due to extremely bad weather. Though curfew was imposed to restore some semblance of order, it had little effect. The mosque pulpits continued to be used to exhort people to defy curfew and join Jehad against the Pandits, while armed cadres of JKLF marched through the streets of the Valley, terrorizing them no end.

As the night fell, the microscopic community became panic-stricken when the Valley began reverberating with the war-cries of Islamists, who had stage-managed the whole event with great care; choosing its timing and the slogans to be used. A host of highly provocative, communal and threatening slogans, interspersed with martial songs, incited the Muslims to come out on the streets and break the chains of ‘slavery’.

These exhortations urged the faithful to give a final push to the Kafir in order to ring in the true Islamic order. These slogans were mixed with precise and unambiguous threats to Pandits. They were presented with three choices — Ralive, Tsaliv ya Galive (convert to Islam, leave the place or perish). Tens of thousands of Kashmiri Muslims poured into the streets of the Valley, shouting  ‘death to India’ and death to Kafirs.

Hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits phoned everyone in authority at Jammu, Srinagar and Delhi, to save them from the sure catastrophe that awaited them.

The pleadings for help were incessant. But not a soldier came to their rescue. Therefore, Kashmiri Pandits found best protection in huddling together indoors, frozen with fear, praying for the night to pass. The foreboding of the impending doom was too over-powering to let them have even a wink of sleep.

What Kashmiri Muslims really want?

The message to the Kashmiri Hindus from the radical Muslims is loud and clear. They want Kashmir to be a part of Pakistan and also as the Kashmiri radical Muslims say: “Yahan kya chalega, Nizam-e- Mustafa” [(Here only Sharia rule is valid].”

Kashmiri radical Muslims want the non-Muslim inhabitants to chant – “Allahu Akbar” slogan if the non-Muslims want to stay in the valley. This is certainly very dangerous and alarming information. But the ultimate consequence of such notions of the Indian Muslims may gradually expand thus putting the whole of India under grave threat.

While we may feel greatly disturbed at what has and continues to happen in Kashmir – we certainly are missing even a worst scenario. For past five years, radical Hinduism has been on rise throughout India. Culprit behind this particularly is Rashtriya Swam Sevak Sangh (RSS). This group of fanatic Hindus, under no consideration can be accepted as a political front. Rather this is just another version of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi forces. There really is no difference between radical Muslims and radical Hindus as both are preachers and followers of religious extremism and culture of hatred.

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