The discourse on Kashmir, characterised by discord and disagreement but the scenic beauty of Kashmir is the only aspect that is being unanimously agreed upon by all (Tikoo, 2013). Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India (Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir) and it is the 15th state of the country (schedule 1 of Indian Constitution). The entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is blessed with natural endowments and national and international tourists often visit the state to experience its mesmerising scenic beauty and monuments. The entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, presently under control of India, is spread in a geographical area of 1,01,387 sq. km. (J&K forest Department, n.d.), which is comprised of three regions viz. Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Geographically, Kashmir is the smallest region of the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir and the other two more regions namely Jammu and Ladakh are much bigger than it. These two regions never come in news for any incidence of terrorism and separatism, which clearly indicates that these two regions are largely peaceful. Recently, the state has been bifurcated into two new Union Territories Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh (“Jammu and Kashmir bifurcated”, 2019).

Kashmir region is spread in an area of 15,948 sq. km, i.e. 16% of the total geographical area of the erstwhile state of J&K (J&K forest Department, n.d.) and it remained in news across globe for separatist and terrorist excesses. This region is comprised of three valleys viz. Srinagar or Kashmir Valley, Lolab Valley and Gurez Valley. The news of terrorism and separatism is heard only from Srinagar or Kashmir valley whereas the other two valleys remain quiet. Even all the districts of Srinagar valley are not the problematic. The problem of separatism and terrorism is confined only to five districts viz. Srinagar, Baramulla, Anantnag, Shopian, and Pulwama (Sinha, 2017). Though the term ‘Kashmiriyat’[1] is often used to depict the secularist and inclusive character of the state yet it could not assuage the existing violent armed groups in Kashmir valley. These groups often take recourse to the rhetoric of ‘azadi’ (freedom) and even justify the spilling of blood of innocent people on the pretext of it. This same ‘azadi’ manifested in its most virulent form during 1990s that sent jitters among Kashmiri Hindus, as the threat of armed wielding terrorists, roaming on the streets of the Kashmir valley, was looming large. The sloganeering with Islamic overture scared the Kashmiri Hindus. Frequent and intense terrorist attacks resulted in a complete collapse of governance structure in Kashmir Valley, during 1990s, and spillage of blood of innocent people further aggravated the milieu prevailing at that point of time. An environment of complete chaos erupted. This vitiated environment instilled fear among minorities[2], especially among Hindus because they were the prime target of the arm wielding terrorists. Terrorism of 1990s was the clear manifestation of Islamic terrorism in the State though many other justifications were also given for it (Tikoo, 2013; Pandita, 2013).  

The problem of religious outburst could be observed in 1947 when India attained Independence and Pakistan was carved out from India as an Islamic country and the venom of Islamic fundamentalism started spreading in J&K, which was situated between India and the Pakistan. The State was invaded by Pakistan and the local Muslims were instigated to expel Hindus and Sikhs from J&K and to gain control over the large tract of land. Presently, over 78,000 of J&K state land is under the illegal occupation of Pakistan that is known as Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJK). The hatred against the minority was prevailing in Kashmir valley and even Sheikh Abdullah, in his autobiography, said that all the Kashmiri Hindus are spies of India (Pandit 2008, pp. 68-72), which clearly indicated how the minority would be treated if the head of the state is spitting venom against people of any particular faith. Through Abolition of Big Landed Estates Act, 1950 holding of more than 182 Kanals or 23 acres land was made illegal and no compensation was paid to the people whose lands were usurped by the state government (Gupta 1968, p.189). This rule of the Government largely affected Hindus across the state and converted landowning class into a class of paupers in a day (Bhan, 2003). Sheikh Abdullah was dismissed as Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir by the order of Sadr-i-Riyasat[3] Karan Singh (Bose, 2003) and incarcerated on August 9, 1953 on the charges of seditious activities (Yousuf and Ahmed, 2018). The Plebiscite Front[4] came into being on August 10, 1955, under the presidentship of Mirza Afzal Beg, Abdullah’s loyal lieutenant (Bose, 2003) to secure the release of Sheikh Abdullah (Ali, Bhatt, Chatterji, Khatun, Mishra & Roy, 2011). Subsequently, Indira-Shiekh accord was signed by Mirza Mohammad Afzal Beg and G. Parthasarathy on 24 February 1975 in New Delhi. Though Sheikh Abdullah’s party had no representation in J&K assembly during 1975 (Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Assembly Election in 1972 Party Wise) yet he was anointed as the Chief Minister of J&K by replacing Sayeed Mir Qasim from the post of Chief Minister (Kashmir Life, 2018). Since, the Plebiscite Front served the purpose of releasing the Sheikh and anointing him on the post of CM, it ceased to exist from February 15, 1975 (Kashmir Life, 2018). This was the biggest forgery in the history of India and J&K, where someone was given Chief Ministership of a state without he being a elected representative, yet there was no violence in Kashmir. Even the State of J&K never had any Hindu CM. This clearly established that rigging, Islamic fundamentalism and forgery were happening in the state even before 1987 election but no terrorism was spread to this much magnitude. Perhaps, the defeat of Pakistan in 1971 war and creation of Bangladesh antagonised the Pakistani establishment. Hence, it lent their overt support to terrorism of 1990s. Though it is difficult to accept any other thing, except the fundamental Islamic fanaticism, for terrorism in 1990 yet certain other factors were also attributed for the mayhem.

There were four main factors for the terrorism in the erstwhile state of J&K. The first was rigged election of 1987, in which the National Conference[5] and Congress[6] formed a collation government in the state. Muslim United Front (MUF)[7] considered that their drubbing defeat in election has happened because of rigging. It was speculated that MUF would have won certain more seats if the election would have not been rigged. On this pretext MUF, with support of Pakistan, unleashed terror in Kashmir valley and instead of targeting the people responsible for rigging it targeted innocent Hindus. Hence, the killing and terrorising people was ensued (Soz, 2018, p. 166). The second factor was the panchance of certain Kashmiri separatists[8] to separate Kashmir from India, on the basis of religion, was quite visible (Bhan, 2003) but there was no certainty about the future of Kashmir. The third factor was that this was perhaps the first time when terrorists made the resolve to establish Islamic rule in Kashmir with support of Pakistan (Bhan, 2003). The fourth factor was to either convert Kashmiri Hindus[9] or kill them or force them to leave the valley because they were seen as agents of India (Bhan, 2003). Though separatists like Sayed Shah Geelani said that they wanted even Hindus to be part of the separate Kashmir (Sikand, 2001) but targeted killings of Hindus prove that it was difficult to believe on him. Even Geelani’s own overture to establish Islamic rule in Kashmir and his association with Hizbul Mujahidin[10] creates doubt on the congruence between his words and actions.

Obviously, there were many fault lines of the armed struggle of 1990s because of which the cause of freedom was relegated to terrorism and the oft-quoted ‘Kashmiriyat’ could not find support from masses even from Kashmir region. These fault lines were:

  1. Armed uprising of 1990s was never supported by Jammu and Ladakh:

When terrorism was engulfing in Kashmir the other two regions of the state viz. Jammu and Ladakh were largely peaceful. It was in 1993 when the first major attack in Doda district of Jammu was reported and the mass killings of minority community took place. Later Poonch district, which was adjacent to Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJK)[11], was touched, as it was the other entering point for the terrorists, who had received training in arms in POJK. But terrorism could not establish its strong roots in this part of the state and no pro-Pakistan or separation of Jammu from India sloganeering was ever reported from here. People in this region lacked affinity to the cause of separatism. The infiltration of terrorists from Pakistan was the reason of terrorism in this region but the local population has never given support or refuge to the terrorists. The ethnic and cultural difference was another reason that the terrorists did not receive any local support in this region. Therefore, picking up arms for terrorism is not heard from this region. Terrorism grew as an Islamic manifestation instead of what portrayed as Kashmiri nationalism. Especially, the Jammat-i-Islami[12], a marginal force till 1980s, hijacked the separatist movement and waged an armed struggle i.e. jihad between Islam and the non-believers. Hence, religion legitimised violence, and the separatist movement, and that too restricted to Kashmir only. Thus, the seeds of religious fundamentalism were sown and the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from Kashmir was ensued out of the fear of death (Gangahar, 2013, p. 37-38).

It was during 1989, when the armed insurgency was going on in Kashmir region, a movement initiated in Ladakh to free it from Kashmir. The Ladakh People’s Movement for Union Territory demanded protection from discriminatory policies of Kashmir government that has been overlooking the causes espoused by Ladakhis. Since, majority of the population in Ladakh practice Buddhist religion and does not support separatism, this movement was not violent as such. The conflict in Ladakh is the case of Buddhists, who were oppressed by the Muslim majority of Kashmir. Further, they wanted to remain with India but separated from Kashmir, as they considered that their own rights and liberties are not protected by the Kashmir based political parties. Hence, Autonomous Council Model[13] was implemented in their case. This establishes the fact that geographically, culturally and historically Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh present separate regions though the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir was a single political entity (Beek, 2000, p. 525-527) till recently.

Hence, the 1990s-armed uprising was never supported by the two other regions viz. Ladakh and Jammu, which are geographically much larger than the entire Kashmir region. These regions have a substantial presence of Buddhists and Hindus, apart from Muslims. Muslim United Front (MUF) was having its presence within Kashmir only whereas rest of the regions were largely remained uninfluenced by it. Clearly, the separatist and terrorist tendencies exhibited in the Kashmir valley has not been found in Jammu and Ladakh. People from these two regions feel that they were subjugated under the Kashmir based political parties, who always rant about Kashmir issue and separatism.

  1. Pakistan influence and its intention to merge the Kashmir with it:

The 1987 rigged elections provided another pretext to Pakistan to push its own agenda of separation of Kashmir from India. The Muslim United Front (MUF), an Islamic outfit, was having the backing of Pakistan (Bhan, 2003) and support of local Kashmiri Muslims; therefore, it was presumed that MUF would win at least 10 to 12 seats (Soz, 2018, p.167). Syed Salahuddin, chairman of United Jihad Council (UJC)[14] was also contesting this election. But MUF could not manage to win the expected number of seats. Therefore, the MUF supported by Pakistan, vent its anger by waging arm struggle in Kashmir (Soz, 2018, p.168). Further, Pakistan set up training camps in POJK and the responsibility of organising armed terrorism was given to ISI (Bhan, 2003).

During this time, youth started showing their terrorist attitude in some areas of Kashmir Valley (Soz, 2018, p.167) and the opportunity was tapped by Pakistan. The then President of Pakistan Zia-UI-Haq called the secret meeting after 1987, where the plan of targeted killings of Kashmiri Hindus and secession of Kashmir was hatched. In this meeting the Islamic feelings were arose among Pakistani nationals and the plan was prepared that would be implemented in Kashmir. This plan was coded as “OP TOPAC”, which contained details of subverting the government institutions, the secession of Kashmir and establishment of Islamic state. The message was clear that Kashmiri Muslims must declare Jihad[15], wage a war against infidels and the first target of theirs was Kashmiri Hindus (Bhan, 2003). The armed uprising in Kashmir Valley was started in late 1988 with the visible support of Pakistan and the Kashmiri youth received training in arms in POJK (Soz, 2018, p,166). In October-November 1988, some of the youths carrying weapons were noticed in some areas of Kashmir and the information that some youths have crossed the border to get training in arms was spread. Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF)[16] used the vitiated environment of 1990s (Soz, 2018, p.168) to ignite anti-India and anti-Hindu sentiments among the youth of Kashmir. The rigging of 1987 elections was not the sole reason for armed terrorism in Kashmir but it was a turning point for Muslim Kashmiri youth to show their violent tendencies (Soz, 2018, 168).

JKLF was founded in 1977 by Amanullah Khan and Mohammad Maqbool Bhat. Though Amanullah Khan was not in the good book of Pakistan yet 1987 was different, as he was a star in the eyes of Pakistan Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) [17] (Bhan, 2003). It was a well known fact that Pakistan gave full patronage to JKLF (Bhan, 2003) and had trained most of its terrorists (Sikand, 2001). JKLF declared armed campaign for the independence of Kashmir from India on July 31, 1988, with the support of ISI (EFSAS, n.d.), by blowing up two powerful bombs in Srinagar and started the armed struggle in Kashmir (Evans, 2010). It implemented two pronged strategies i.e. use Kalashnikov or AK 47 provided by Pakistan and disinformation (EFSAS, n.d.). Though JKLF claimed that Pakistan is providing only moral and diplomatic support to it but trainings, arms and ammunition support were also provided to it by Pakistan. Pakistan even called, Muslims of Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJK), for waging Jihad against India and the Hindus. The terrorists of JKLF gave strange justification for using arms and killing innocent people of Kashmir. They said the arms were used to free Kashmir from India (EFSAS, n.d.) but their prime target was Hindu minority of Kashmir valley (Evans, 2010). By 1990s, JKLF gained notoriety and armed insurgency became the order of the day in Kashmir (Bhan, 2013). MUF and JKLF had a clear hand in bringing armed terrorism in Kashmir valley and beckoning the youth in the name of religion and targeting Kashmiri Hindus. The entire state machinery seemed helpless during that time. Jagmohan[18] was blamed for exodus of Hindu community because he presented his inability to provide security to Kashmiri Hindus at different locations (Soz, 2018, p.184).

One of the senior leaders of a national level political party mentioned that MUF could have been instrumental in developing harmonious relationship with the government of India (Soz, 2018, p.166). Though MUF had a clear hand in terrorism of 1990s in Kashmir yet shamelessly the senior political leaders justified their act of terrorism and killing by stating that the organisation could have raised the graph of democracy and ensuring peace in Kashmir.

  1. Nature of the struggle overtly presented the goal to establish Islamic rule in the state

In the matter of seven centuries, starting from 14th century onwards, 100% Hindu population of Kashmir was converted. The sword was used extensively by radical Islamists to spill the blood of innocents. The aborigines of Kashmir valley Bhatta (Kashmiri Hindus) were converted to Islam. From first quarter of 14th century to Afghan rule, six exoduses of Hindus were observed and they were offered three choices- convert to Islam, die or flee and the Hindu population was reduced considerably by the time Britishers left India (Tikoo, 2013). Though the terrorism of 1990s was ascribed to the rigging of legislative assembly election of 1987 (Soz, 2018, p.166) but its communal overtures were clearly reflecting that the prime target was Hindus of Kashmir Valley (Bhan, 2003). Ethnic cleansing remained a darkest chapter in the history of Jammu and Kashmir (Allaie, 2017) that was manifested in this armed struggle. During this time terrorists clearly gave the message that Islam not Kashmiriyat is the solution to Kashmir (Sikand, 2001). Hence, the bloodshed ensued in the name of religion. While the terrorists said their war was against Indian state and its agents but their overt expression about the rule of Islam and the targeted killings of Hindus clearly depicted their real intention.

The situation in Kashmir was threatening at that time. The Islamic and pro-Pakistan slogans were raised in odd hours that sent jitters among many Hindu families, who were worried about their own safety and security. When the majority community gesture is signalling about the imminent storm, many of the families could not dare to stay back. The crumbling police and state administration further instilled fear among them. In this charged environment, Kashmiri Hindus were identified as others. They were considered Kafirs (non-believers), who do not believe in Islam and were suspected. The morning of 20th January, 1990 established that the Islamic rule has already crept in the valley and it is firmly placed. Now, mosque and Maulvi would rule in Kashmir (EFSAS, n.d.). In this charged environment, it was more than difficult to presume that Hindus and Muslims could live with bonhomie.

Moreover, terrorists forced to remove the word ‘India’ from establishments such as State Bank of India, Air India, Indian Oil etc. People were ordered to shift their money from Indian Banks to Jammu and Kashmir Bank. Friday was observed holiday instead of Sunday in government offices. Policemen were also killed in most brutal manner. It was clear targeting of the institutions, which were responsible for development and internal security of the state. When the Lok Sabha by-election boycott call was given by terrorists in November, 1989, an estimated 5000 polling officers refused to perform their duties and several polling stations were set on fire. Even a coffin was placed outside the polling booth in Baramulla with a placard mentioning “it is for the first man who cast his vote”. The favourite tactic was to shot down the security personnel, provoke retaliation and kill innocent civilians (Behera, 2006, pp. 145-147).

There were obvious apprehensions of minorities. They cannot think of either staying in Kashmir, if it is under Islamic rule or going to Pakistan as any of these options would have been detrimental for them. The dwindling population of Hindus in Pakistan and their subjugation was the live example for them.

  1. Targeted killings of Kashmiri Hindus

The armed insurgency of terrorists was spearheaded by JKLF in Kashmir and Yasin Malik[19] was the initiator of this armed struggle (Gangahar, 2013). During 1990s, Kashmiri Hindus barely constituted 3% of the total population of Kashmir (EFSAS, n.d.). They were made scapegoat though they have no hand in any alleged rigging in the election (EFSAS, n.d.). JKLF threatened that all the minorities must support freedom of Kashmir (Tak, 2013). The terrorists specifically targeted Hindus because they were considered as agents of India and it was assumed that they would not partake in Kashmir liberation struggle. Therefore, the terror was used, to instil fear among them. For this purpose, a number of Hindu officials were killed and as expected it sent shock waves among Kashmiri Hindus. The Kashmiri Hindus started fearing for their lives and started leaving the valley to safer places in Jammu and elsewhere in India. Though terrorists claim that they were targeting only the agents of India but Kashmiri Hindus were targeted because the communally charged environment was created by terrorist outfits in Kashmir. The two Srinagar based newspapers Alsafa and Srinagar Times carrying the threat issued by JKLF and Hizbul Mujahadeen that clearly gave indication about the imminent danger. These threats read ‘all Hindus from Jammu & Kashmir should leave from here in two days’. Mosques were used as warning centres to threaten Hindus (Bhan, 2003). Most of the departure took place when JKLF was in the ascendance that shows the ethnic cleansing was one of the prime motives of this armed struggle. Hizbul Mujahadeen, a pro-Pakistan terrorist group, was found in 1990 to reduce the influence of JKLF and to ensure that Kashmir should accede to Pakistan. Syed Andrabi of Jamaat-e-Tulba believed that Kashmiri Hindus were traitors and the agents of India hence; she deliberately attempted to get rid of Hindus. (Evans, 2010). Tika Lal Taploo, a Kashmiri Hindu, was killed on September 14, 1989 and Neel Kanth Ganjoo, a retired session judge on November 4, 1989. Subsequently, more Hindus were killed that grew concern of their own safety among Kashmiri Hindus. Jagmohan was appointed as the Governor of J&K on January 19, 1990 and Dr. Abhdullah, resigned on the same day from the post of Chief Minister of the state. Jagmohan imposed the Governor’s rule on January 20, 1990 but death and destruction continued in the valley (Soz, 2018, p. 170). On January 25, 1990 JKLF terrorists killed five members of Indian Airforce in Rawalpora, Srinagar Bus stand (Soz, 2018, p. 171). H.N. Wancho, prominent trade union leader was killed on December 5, 1992 by the terrorists. The incessant bombings, killings and a situation of death and destruction prevailed across Kashmir valley (Soz, 2018, p. 177). Lot many Hindus were killed in this armed terrorism. Though the Government figure mentioned that a total number of 228 Hindus were killed during 1990s but Panun Kashmir, an organisation working for Kashmiri Hindus, submitted a complete list of 1341 Hindus who were killed in the Valley or other parts of the State to Indian National Human Rights Commission (EFSAS, n.d.).

The selective killings of Kashmiri Hindus by terrorists scared them and they were left with no other option but to leave their own homeland. An overwhelming majority (95%) of Hindus left their homeland, in Kashmir, during the terrorism of 1990s (Evans, 2010) and Kashmiri Muslims did nothing to prevent the exodus (Soz, 2018, p.181-182). Most of the Hindus moved to Jammu in 1990 but later in 1997 most of them moved to other places in India (Evans, 2010). The Muslim majority call for Kashmir separatism threatened Kashmiri Hindus and forced their exodus from Kashmir (Tak, 2013).

  • By 1990s the movement lost its vision:

During 1990s it was established that Kashmir is engulfed by religious fundamentalism completely and Muslims refused to accept statist paradigm in Kashmir and they firmly believe that Muslims cannot stay with Hindus. Hence, they demanded separation of Kashmir (Behera, 2006, p. 157). The armed terrorism has the clear element of Islam and except JKLF; all the other terrorist outfits were supportive of Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan. The terrorist organisations closed cinema halls, banned on alcohol, forced women to wear veil and abducted some of the women (Soz, 2018, pp 172-173). By mid-1990s JKLF started losing its sway because most of its top leaders were either killed or imprisoned and its patron Pakistan marginalized it because the outfit was aiming at creating an independent Kashmir, which is inclusive of POJK. Pakistan believed that JKLF would be more inclined towards independent Kashmir rather than toeing the line of Pakistan, therefore, it started giving patronage to pro-Pakistan groups of terrorists. It even facilitated the entry of foreign jihads into Kashmir (Sikand, 2001). The most prominent among these terrorists groups was Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (Army of the Holy Warriors), who got funds, arms and recruits from Pakistan (Behera, 2006, p. 151).

The terrorists started training their guns on their own Muslim brethren in Kashmir and even kidnapped and killed them. Rubaiya Saeed, the 23 years old daughter of Mufti Mohammad Saeed, the then Home Minister of India, was abducted on December 8, 1989 by the terrorists of JKLF. The J&K state government released 4 dreadful terrorists in exchange of safe release of Rubaiya Saeed, which was celebrated by the terrorists across downtown Srinagar (Soz, 2018, p. 169-170). Those Muslims were targeted who raised their voice against the loss of human life and destruction. Prominent among them was Mirwaiz Maulvi Mohammad Farooq, a senior religious and political leader, who was killed on May 21, 1990 by the terrorists because he did not toe the line of terrorists and called the bloodshed of innocents an un-Islamic act (Bhan, 2003). JKLF denied its involvement in this killing (Soz, 2018, p. 171). The terrorists had no clear-cut strategy to force the Indian Government, except killing the security forces and civilians, and they made a self-goal, when they started killing Muslims.

Intrusion of Pakistan based terrorists resulted in loss of Kashmiri flavour in terrorism of 1990s and the reflection of the same was quite visible. Hafiz Saeed, Lashkar-e-Toieba[20] leader said “the notion of the sovereignty of the people is un-Islamic”. The assistance to Pakistan came with a rider that Kashmir would accede to Pakistan. The Kashmir born terrorists soon realised that accession to Pakistan means going to another country and losing their own importance (Behera, 2006, p. 157). Also, terrorists were living under false believe that once the armed terrorism is onsetted, Pakistan would invade India and liberate Kashmir. But this believe was dispelled soon because neither Pakistan attacked directly nor did India give up on Kashmir (Behera, 2006, pp. 150). The continuous killing of civilians and security forces compelled India to deal the situation with iron fist and the Indian Army was called in and the terrorist had no effective strategy to respond to the might of Indian army (Behera, 2006, pp. 150). Though the non-responsive state administration in 1988-89 emboldened the terrorists but the advent of Indian army ensured that the terrorists must not spill more blood.

Protracted displacement of Kashmiri Hindus and less hope to return

  • Kashmir Panun, an organisation working for Kashmiri Hindus, demanded a separate homeland for Kashmiri Hindus within Kashmir valley (Soz, 2018, p. 183). Surprisingly, the same terrorists opposed the demand of separate homeland for Kashmiri Hindus who themselves wanted to separate Kashmir from India. Hence, the sense of insecurity would remain among Kashmiri Hindus.
  • It seems difficult that the Kashmiri Hindus could ever returned back to their home because the state government has done little to bring them back to Kashmir (Soz, 2018).
  • In September, 1995, Hizbul Mujahidin threatened Kashmiri Hindus that they are not welcomed in Kashmir Valley unless they join the struggle of separatism. Subsequent killings of Kashmiri Hindus continued, which discouraged them to return back to Kashmir (Evans, 2010). The presence of Hizbul Mujahidin still sends jitters among Hindus and returning back to Kashmir is less likely in this charged environment in Kashmir even today.
  • The 1990s terrorism created hysteria among minorities in Kashmir and since then, Muslim families in Kashmir considered that being a terrorist family member is a status symbol (Behera, 2006, p. 150). Islamic sanction to violence and jihad (Behera, 2006, p. 150) further complicated the problem. In fact, slogans like “Azadi Ka Matlab Kya, La Illahililiah” (Freedom means the rule of Islamic Law) and “Hum Kya Chahte Hain-Nizam-i-Mustafa” (What do we want- Islamic Law) ensures that the Islamic rule should prevail (Behera, 2006, p. 150). In this environment the experience of persecution of Hindus would relive again, if they return to Kashmir Valley.
  • The recent remarks of a leader of Kashmir based political party that anti-India movement in Kashmir would turn into a pro-Islamic movement and the Kashmiri mothers feel pride, if their sons are dying for jihad (Chatt, 2018) gives the indication that the life in Kashmir would not be easy. Such revelation makes it clear that Kashmiri Hindus would not be safe as the danger of religious persecution remains large on them. Even mere suspicion of Muslims that Hindus are supportive of India would be dangerous for them.
  • The victims’ of 1990s terror were forced to leave Kashmir. They have been on permanent exile and going back to Kashmir is not an easy option for them. They can buy home anywhere in India but going back to Kashmir is difficult lest they might be killed (Pandita, 2013).
  • Kashmiri Hindus were the first and the only target of the armed insurgency that was started in 1990s to separate Kashmir from India. Though the uprising started in response to the rigged election of 1987 and to overthrow the established government in the largest democracy yet Kashmiri Hindus were found to be the easiest target of terrorists. Establishing Islamic state was the only desire that propelled to create dreadful terrorist outfits like JKLF, Hizbul Mujahidin and others. The fragile environment in Kashmir valley affected the relationship of Kashmiri Hindus and Kashmiri Muslims, after Hindus being displaced from Kashmir Valley (Bhan, 2013; Allaie, 2017).
  • One of the Kashmir based political party leaders said stone-pelting is a tradition and the mothers’ feel proud, if their sons die while throwing stones at the security forces (Chatt, 2018). If this holds true than it gives clear indication about the vitiated environment in Kashmir and it is difficult to think that Kashmiri Hindus would even dare to return.
  • Gilani says Islam makes clear distinction between love for the country (watan dosti) and nation worship (watan parasti). He says love for the country is acceptable as one does not have to be loyal to the nation (Sikand, 2001). His notion is in contravention to the notion adopted by India, which believes in secularism and consider that national interest must be kept supreme by any citizen of India. The country does not have a religion and it does not promote any religion. But forcing someone to embrace Islam or facing persecution would definitely discourage the Kashmiri Hindus to return back to Kashmir valley.
  • Gilani strongly pushed his own understanding of a nation, where he identifies Muslims and Hindus as two separate nations itself. He says it is ‘an undeniable truth’ (‘na-qabil-i-tardid haqiqat’). He said Muslims cannot stay harmoniously in Hindu majority nation, especially when Hinduism has the capacity to assimilate with other religions. The same understanding was pushed by him in the case of Kashmir. Hence, he considered separation of Kashmir is essential for the survival of Islam in Kashmir. The major points in his idea for Kashmir is that jihad is directed at India and its agents, separation of Kashmir from India and its merger with Pakistan (Sikand, 2001). Even this understanding would discourage Kashmiri Hindus to return back to Kashmir.
  • Pakistan based Islamist groups are actively involved in the armed conflict in Kashmir even today (Sikand, 2001). Hence, Hindus would find it more appropriate to stay at a safer place instead of coming to Kashmir valley.


The armed violence induced displaced Kashmiri Hindus are officially termed as migrants by Government of India and the Government of Jammu and Kashmir (Dutta, 2016), which is not less than rubbing salt on their wounds. 1990s has made them refugees in their own country but the central and the state governments are not ready to identify them as either refugees or displaced persons, who have to leave their homes because of terrorism in Kashmir.

The terror was unleashed by the forces inimical to the nation. The pretext made by them was that of rigged elections of 1987 and the targets were the people, who neither had the hand in rigging nor did they have any intention to so still they were killed. Terrorists of JKLF, Hizbul Mujahedeen and other terrorist outfits made use of this time to kill anyone on mere suspicion. Ironically, their killing was equated with the frustration of the Kashmiri youth. Hence, it can be tantamount to giving the license to kill. But even if the theory of rigged election would have been accepted then the obvious target of it should have been the person who had done it i.e. Farooq Abdullah or National Conference yet the cost was neither born by him nor by his party. But the ordinary Kashmiri Hindus were executed for the mistakes, which they have never committed. Surprisingly, many people do not see the killings as a communal act even today though the Islamic fundamentalists had clear hand in it.

Rigged election cannot be an excuse to kill innocent people of Kashmir. Praja Parishad (Subject’s Forum)[21] was organized in late 1947 and it was to contest 28 seats out of a total number of 30 seats in Jammu region. 13 candidates of it were disqualified arbitrarily before election. This was the common method adopted by Sheikh Abdullah to get rid of opposition. Therefore, Praja Parishad protested peacefully and boycotted the constituent assembly election. The remaining two non-National Conference candidates withdrew their nomination. NC was going with its slogan “One Leader, One Party, One Programme” in a clear sign that the opposition was to be removed at any cost and the option of resorting to fraudulent means can be exercised. Even the political outfits from the valley like Jammu and Kashmir Political Conference were not allowed to contest election against Abdullah and the then central leadership at Delhi was clearly hand in glove with NC. Praja Parishad would have won a good number of seats from Jammu and would have pressed for complete integration of the state with India at that point of time, as its main slogan was Ek Vidhan, Ek Nishan, Ek Pradhan (one constitution, one flag, one premier). But it could not get into Constituent Assembly of J&K because of the tricks of Sheikh Abdullah. The party protested against this injustice and it was intensified during 1952 and the first half of 1953 in Jammu and the support for the same was received from Ladakh as well. Shyama Prasad Mookherjee of Jan Sangh[22] also tried to draw the attention of the then Prime Minister of India and requested him to intervene but nothing was done in this matter. In May 1953, Mookherjee was arrested and later he died under mysterious circumstances (Bose, 2003, p. 55-58). But Praja Parishad and Jan Sangh never resorted to arms struggle. So, justifying the armed struggle on the pretext of rigged election is not acceptable.

The effect of terrorism could still be felt even today as one cannot find even a single cinema hall across Kashmir valley until recently. This clearly indicates that the situation has not improved in Kashmir. Though some people put the blame squarely on Jagmohan, who is believed to have facilitated the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus but many overlooked the fact that their exodus was started taking place even before Jagmohan became the governor of J&K. Hence, blaming only him for the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus would be inappropriate, especially when terrorists were killing many people. Even after Jagmohan was forced to resign from the post of Governor on May 25, 1990, the killings of Hindus, by the terrorists, was continued. Even today the terrorists are roaming in Kashmir and killing people. Terrorism in the name of Islam is not acceptable in the civilized society; therefore, some of the Muslims objected to the killings and called it un-Islamic but their saint voice was also silenced by terrorists. This is also a clear indication for Kashmiri Hindus that they cannot stay in Kashmir anymore.

Lastly, there were obvious faultlines in 1990s-armed insurgency and finding support from all the communities would be difficult if the extreme mechanisms are used. The returning of Kashmiri Hindus back to Kashmir valley is less likely till the vitiated environment is prevailing in Kashmir.


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[1] An idealistic concept that is used in the context of Kashmir to depict the secular culture of this region, symbolises Hindu-Muslim unity.

[2] In the context of Jammu and Kashmir these people are the non-Muslims.

[3] A title used in the State of Jammu and Kashmir to denote President of the State till 1965

[4] It was a Kashmir based political organisation, whose covert aim was to secure the release of Sheikh Abdullah from prison and instilling him as the CM of Jammu and Kashmir.

[5] A Kashmir based political party.

[6] A national level political party

[7] Another political party, who fought election of Jammu and Kashmir in 1987, in which it could manage to win 4 seats.

[8] They are the residents of Kashmir and citizens of India but making efforts to separate Kashmir from India

[9] Kashmiri Hindus are the people who follow certain religious practices and they are from Kashmir region. 

[10] A terrorist outfit supported by Pakistan.

[11] POJK is that part of Jammu and Kashmir which was illegally occupied by Pakistan in 1947 though state acceded to India. Jammu and Kashmir was a princely state which acceded to India in 1947 when the Instrument of Accession by Maharaja Hari Singh, the then ruler of the state, and later ratified by the constituent assembly on November 5, 1952.

[12] An organisation working to promote Islam in Kashmir

[13] Since 1988, this model is implemented, by the Government of India, in those regions where the movements were not seeking outright succession like it has been sought in Kashmir.

[14] A Pakistan based terrorist outfit.

[15] A war by Muslims against infidels.

[16] A terrorist outfit, which want independence of Kashmir.

[17] The intelligence wing of Pakistan. They provide logistic and other needed support to terrorists.

[18] He was appointed as Governor of Jammu and Kashmir for very brief period started from January, 1990 to May 1990

[19] He was a terrorist of JKLF.

[20] A Pakistan based terrorist outfit.

[21] A Jammu based political outfit.

[22] A national level political outfit.

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