My Kashmir Files Story

The only justification for “Why these stories are coming out in open now” has 2 main reasons. The generations which got impacted the most were my parents and grandparents. My grandparents’ generation stayed in denial till their last breath, a couple of months back during lockdown when I talked to my Grandmother she said: “there are militants out in open that is why we are locked inside”. My parents’ generation blocked all the horrible experiences in their minds and dedicated the next 2-to 3 decades rebuilding their lives from scratch to provide a safety net for their kids. In the process, to protect their children psychologically, they diluted the narrative too.

I was a kid back then and didn’t understand everything, but could sense the fear. I am sharing my experience from Jan-April 1990 while we were still in Srinagar – the last few weeks where our ancestors had lived since Sanatan kaal.

  1. There would be endless curfews. One day while I was still in school some militant group started firing in a nearby area in Habba Kadhal, we all hid in our classrooms for a couple of hours. Later that day my mom came to pick me up during curfew break, she wasn’t wearing her ath & bindi ( ath has the same significance to a KP married woman as is Sindoor & Mangalsutra), she had even covered her head and half face with dupatta. I didn’t understand much but it was the first time I sensed something was terribly wrong. We took some odd shady lanes to reach our home to avoid mobs. A few Army men helped us reach our home safely.
  2. During those days of curfew, we hardly had any vegetables, groceries, and food items in the house, We would rarely eat properly. We as kids used to complain a lot about it.
  3. Around midnight hundreds of bikers would create a ruckus in the locality and shout religious and demeaning slogans.
  4. We would keep our windows closed most of the time, but little brother would sneak into the room and open the window, there were tear gases thrown on the mobs by Army. The burning sensation after those teargases is still left in my memory.
  5. My parents were only talking about militants, army, and innocent KPs getting brutally killed all the time.
  6. Every day they would paste a list of Kashmiri pandits they would kill next on the walls of the local mosque, which was the only discussion in our house during those days.
  7. We managed to flee to our Aunt’s place in Anantnag and planned to return once the conditions were normal. One morning after I woke up and I didn’t find my parents in our room. When my brother a toddler back then started crying, I took him to the garden area and told him something terrible has happened to them, we might not see them again and our aunt won’t tell us because we are kids. My parents had sneaked to our deserted house in Srinagar at around 4-5 am (to avoid getting noticed by our neighbours) to get some documents that were necessary if we had to flee Jammu. When my Aunt told me this I lost faith that they will be back. I can’t explain how I felt back then.
  8. A few of our known Kashmiri acquaintances were brutally killed by the militants to induce fear in the community.
  9. Almost all of my relatives were fleeing, leaving behind everything, they would not even share this information with their close ones fearing if anyone came to know their empty houses will be looted, sadly the once trusted neighbours would share the information with terrorists who would later loot the empty house, or rape & kill pandits if still found in the house.
  10. When we left we were 7 people cramped in one small taxi – my family & my cousins. We had just one small suitcase with which we started a new life in Jammu. Thankfully my parents were able to get our documents sneaked out of my house in Srinagar.
  11. The initial few years in Jammu were depressing, Elders were in a chronic depressive state most of the time trying to assemble whatever little they could bring with them. I can’t even describe that period. Jammu wasn’t ready for the migration of such a huge pandit population. Initially, there were reservations among the local Jammuites too. But slowly when we started understanding each other and it became a close community of Dogras and Pandits.
  12. Our neighbour was a very kind and caring Muslim lady, she would sneak some fresh vegetables and milk for my little brother. We could see and talk to each other through our windows, she too had started believing aazadi bs to the extent that she mentioned a couple of times that she is ready to sacrifice one of her 3 sons for the cause. She would even mention ” aapka yahan abh kya rakha hai – aap niklo”
  13. In 1989 we were staying in Srinagar, just next to a local mosque, we were one of the few Pandit families in that area, and one night while having dinner, someone threw paper wrapped in a small stone through our window, with the message: leave our Kashmir before you see our wrath & leave your batni(pandit wife) for us.
  14. After that incident, the next few nights my father would lock the main door from outside, jump in from the window and all four of us will be tucked under the bed, to ensure that even if someone crashed in, they will not find us on our beds and would leave without harming us. I don’t remember getting any sleep during those nights. In my mind, I felt that at any moment that mob will gatecrash and shoot us. I was jealous of my brother who was too small to understand anything and playing as if nothing had happened. We couldn’t trust anyone, not even the people with whom we had lived for years, We feared everyone. We stopped taking milk from regular milk vendors, and vegetables from our regular vendor fearing they may pass information to militants that ours is a Pandit family.
  15. Every night huge crowd of men, as well as women, would be on the streets shouting slogans like “Hum Kya Chahate – Aazadi Aazadhi ka Matlab kya – La Ilaha Illallah”, 30+ years have passed since then and I can still feel those terrors that I felt during those nights.
  16. I am planning to document narratives of my family members, I will write the detailed experience of my father and mother too – they were around 30-35 at that time, and that generation has seen the worst of all, I will write a detailed version from their point of view too. I still consider myself lucky, all my family members escaped safely, and my father was in the central job so we could survive after a few hiccups in the initial years. there were hardships but nothing compared to kids who lost their parents & parents who lost their kids. People from business backgrounds who were nothing less than royalties in Kashmir were forced to live like beggars after migration.

2 thoughts on “My Kashmir Files Story

    • Author gravatar

      Sometimes its hard to believe that things like these could even happen, and its unfortunate that it is still taken lightly by some so called secular people.

      Wanted to thank you for your efforts in writing down these incidents because these give insights about the horror & pain that each one has gone through.

      We are also trying to collate incidents and are asking everyone to pen down their emotions, because without doing so we will lose our last effort to share about our culture and exodus of KP families.

      Would also like to connect with you for taking this initiative further …

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