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KASHMIRI PANDITS CONFLICT



Kashmiri Pandits have stably constituted between 4% and 5% of the population of the Kashmir valley in the censuses of the British Indian Empire from 1871 to 1941; in the several years immediately after the Partition of India in 1947, 20% left the valley.

Hindus were opposed by both independence-seeking militant groups and Islamic insurgents in the 1990s, the opposition sometimes becoming violent.This created an atmosphere of fear, which significantly motivated the migration. The cause of Kashmiri Hindus was taken up by some Hindu right-wing groups.19 January is observed by some Kashmiri Hindu communities as "Exodus Day.

Many Kashmiri Pandit women were kidnapped, raped and murdered, throughout the time of exodus.

In a major move, the J&K administration has issued an order for the preservation and protection of immovable properties of displaced Kashmiri Pandits.

Cruel and inhuman as the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits was, being a refugee is a complicated matter. Kashmiri Pandit refugees may be able to physically relocate to their old homes, but they can’t go back in time. A resilient, educated, well-connected community, the Pandit refugees have got education and jobs and are now spread across India and the world. Would a Kashmiri Pandit refugee’s son or daughter working in a corporate job want to return to the family home in the old city of Srinagar?

The order has been issued after many Kashmiri Pandit organisations raised concern over the encroachment of the properties of displaced communities in the Kashmir valley.

Meanwhile, the members of the displaced Kashmiri Pandit community have welcomed the decision of the J&K, but at the same time, the members of the community have said that this is too little and too late.

Following the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, by August 2021, nine properties of Kashmiri Hindus who had fled the state were restored to them. In September 2021 a portal was launched for migrants including Kashmiri Hindus to address property related grievances stemming from the exodus.

So, when we speak of the “return” of Pandits, it is not a physical relocation we need to think of. Pandits cannot return to a Kashmir that is pre-1989, because it does not exist anymore.

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