Tum Aankhon Ki Barsaat Bachaaye Hue Rakhna;
Kuch Log Abhi Aag Lagaana Nahin Bhoole!
In the heart of Kashmir, sleep many tragedies!
We all know the tale of Kashmir, in bits and pieces and we also know the paradise being sullied.
Many many stories back, a place that was heaven. The heaven remains, but a little scarred now.
I am sharing with you a few heart wrenching tales of Kashmiri Pandits, who, once upon a time were, the treasures of smiling land Kashmir. The people who celebrated the land with much joy and gaiety. The people who kissed the soil of Kashmir, for it was their home.
Where is the home today? What is the home today?
Story – 1
Once in Kashmir, someone scared to death peeked out of his balcony to see if it is okay to get out. An engineer. What he saw was two men toting their guns, waiting for him to get out. He ran back into his house. A neighbor who had seen the engineer in his balcony informed the gun-toting men. Within minutes, doors started getting slammed. Engineer and his family looked at each other to say final goodbyes. Engineer’s wife persuaded her husband to hide in a rice canister in the attic of their house. The two men barged into the house and demanded to see the engineer. Engineer’s wife tried to dodge them by telling them that her husband is out on duty. Those men would not listen. They searched the whole house. They found the engineer hiding in the rice canister. They were not there to see him. They were there to kill him. They did not even let him come out of the canister. While he was still in the canister, they unloaded their Kalashnikovs right into the rice canister. White rice turned red. Gunny bags in the attic soaked the spilled blood. Engineer’s widow pleaded with them to kill her as well. They would not. Instead they told her that they want her to suffer the rest of her life crying for her husband. That engineer was Mr. Deepak Ganju, a Kashmiri Hindu. The neighbor was a Kashmiri Muslim.
Story – 2
April 30, 1990 was a normal day in the lives of residents of village Shali in District Anantnag in Kashmir valley. But the evening was not the same. As the Sun was setting on village Shali, three armed men knocked at the door of a poet and a teacher who had taught many of the residents of his village. Armed men demanded of him to accompany him to their camp for some questioning. Sensing something amiss, teacher’s son demanded that he would accompany his father. After two days of painful anxiety came the dreadful news. Two dead bodies were found hanging with their limbs broken, hairs uprooted, and portions of their skin slit open and burnt. The dead poet and teacher were 67 year old Kashmir Hindu Pt. Sarvanand Koul ‘Premi’ and his son Pt. Virendra Koul.
Story – 3
On May 2nd, 1990, a man, his wife and his male cousin were having dinner when four armed men walked into their house and asked all three of them to accompany them out to their slaughter house. Three innocent lives were taken to the assigned place of their execution near a mosque on the bank of the River Jhelum. When executioners were busy pumping iron into man’s body from a point-blank range, cousin jumped into the river and managed to swim to safety. Man’s body was kept in the mosque for the night and then thrown into the river. Man’s wife was also ruthlessly killed and her corpse was tied with stone and thrown into the Jhelum. Her dead body was never recovered. The dead couple was Prof. K. L. Ganju of Sopore Agricultural College and his wife, forsaken Kashmiri Hindus.
These are not tales from some fiction novel. These are the stories that people have lived, endured and have died in these stories. Stories of innocent victims who were chosen to be slaughtered by Islamic terrorists hell bent on either changing their faith, or eliminating their race from the very root.
True stories of Kashmiri Hindus, who were ethnically cleansed from their place of birth. These are true stories of those unsung heroes who laid down their lives, because they believed in the Indian Tricolor. They believed that India, India’s land Kashmir is their home and will protect them.
These are the true stories of those fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters who lost their lives simply because they had a different faith. Deepak Ganju’s, Prof. Ganju’s, Sarvanand Premi’s of Kashmir Valley did not deserve this. They were all peaceful, just like a lotus flower in the Dal Lake. They did not terrorize anybody to deserve bloodshed, to be killed in the middle of happy lives. They did not force anybody on the death-point to believe in their religion, just because they think their religion is better than any other in the whole wide world.
Instead, they believed in ‘Live and Let Live’ philosophy. They believed in the purity of heart and joys of life. But what they got in return was either a head bound bullet or a neck round noose.
We ask, what exactly is Kashmir’s real tragedy? Is it lack of political freedom for Kashmiri Muslims? Is it the never-ending terrorism? Is it the Indo-Pak conflict over mere clusters of land? Is it lack of economic prosperity for Kashmiri Muslims? Is it the atrocities of Indian Army?
No, absolutely not!
The real tragedy of Kashmir is those innocent residents of Kashmir who lost their freedom to basic living. Freedom to live. It is those innocent victim’s relentless longing to be able to go back to their loving homes. It has been so many years, what seems like ages now, since Kashmiri Hindus and other minorities in Kashmir valley were forced to run for their lives. Incidents of grotesque violence against innocent Kashmiri Hindus were the stark realities of those times. Those were the situations under which Kashmiri Hindus had to flee from their own homes. And since then four hundred thousands of Kashmiri Hindus have been living in deplorable conditions as refugees in their own country.
Governments have come and gone in India. Human Rights Commissioners have come and gone. But none of them has given any credence to the plight of Kashmiri Hindus. And why should they? Kashmiri Hindus have been tolerant, non-violent, peace-loving patriots. They have not and will not engage in any kind of violent acts.
Andhera maangne aaya tha roshni ki bheekh
Hum apna apna ghar na jalaate, to aur kya karte!