As India marked 25 years since the mass migration of Hindus from the Valley following the outbreak of militancy, a young Kashmiri reporter wrote about the pain of losing his entire childhood in the migration that left hundreds of families homeless overnight.
“I am as old as exile from my Homeland - Kashmir. It has been 25 years in forced exile. Father this morning rushed to my room sharing this bus ticket my mother bought on the midnight of January 19, 1990 when mosques in Kashmir screamed threats for the Pandit men to leave, asking them to leave behind their women,” Aditya Raj Kaul, a journalist with the Times Now news channel wrote on his Facebook page.
“It was a ticket to exile. I was nine-months-old, wrapped in a white cloth, unaware of the genocide. 'Exodus' till that day was a historical term used by Pandits to debate history. Years later, homelessness would shatter my heart to pieces. And the thought of a lost childhood,” he wrote.
According to various estimates, more than four lakh Kashmiri Pandits lost their houses in violence in the early days of insurgency and migrated to other parts of the country, leaving behind memories of peaceful days in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Minutes later. Father rushed in again holding a photograph. It was our first photograph after exodus to register as so-called migrants for the Government data. Till today Pandits remain only in Government data, somewhere deep inside the Home Ministry on the Rajpath in Delhi. We may face silence forever but we won't forget, we won't forgive,” Kaul wrote.
A group of Kashmiri Pandits staged a symbolic protest on Monday, urging the central and state governments to issue a white paper roadmapping their return to the Kashmir valley, according to reports from agencies.
Some of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits still stay in migrant camps across Jammu, a refugee in their own home state.
The Jammu and Kashmir government has said 219 Kashmiri Pandits were killed by militants since 1989 while 24,202 families were among the total 38,119 families which migrated out of the Valley due to turmoil, The Hindu reported.
Hindustan Times Design Editor Ashutosh Sapru in this moving piece narrates what hurt his father the most in exile http://t.co/uUllASCylo
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) January 20, 2015
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) January 19, 2015