As the debate on the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990 goes on, a blame game between the BJP and the Congress has started. Both of them accuse each other for the fate of the Kashmiri Pandits who have been displaced from their homeland and are not able to return.
Since 1990, the Congress has ruled the country for three terms and BJP is into its fourth term including six years of Vajpayee from 1998 to 2004 and Modi from 2014 to now.
But the problem remains and Kashmiri Pandits are forced to live as refugees in different parts of the country. Apart from this, the historical fact is that during the exodus there was no Congress government in the country. It was the government of V.P. Singh supported by the BJP and Jagmohan was the governor of Jammu and Kashmir who later became a Minister in the Vajpayee government.
Revisiting the facts, Shakil Akhtar who has worked with a leading newspaper in Srinagar for ten years from 1990-2000 said, “it was Jagmohan who facilitated the exodus by arranging transportation and did not provide security to the Kashmiri Pandits and after they fled, the Governor appealed that KPs should not leave the Valley in March, three months after they left.”
He said that the Governor could have stopped the exodus but he did not do it deliberately.
The Congress alleges that BJP was instrumental in the removal of Farooq Abdullah, the then elected Chief Minister and appointment of Jagmohan, whom the Congress squarely blames for the exodus as at that time Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was the Home Minister, with whom the BJP formed government in Kashmir in 2015-16.
The BJP counters and alleges that 1989 insurgency began after allegations of rigging in Assembly elections of 1987 and the JKLF started targeting the KPs.
But Congress MP Manish Tewari counters this argument and says, “In 1990, BJP & Communist parties supported the V.P. Singh government which made a cardinal error by not providing security to Kashmiri Pandits. In 2021, same mistake was made by facilitating departure of migrant workers working in the Valley.”
As per rough estimates between January and March 1990, one lakh Pandits of an estimated population of 140,000 fled the Valley. In 2011 as per government estimates, about 2,700 to 3,400 Pandits were in the Valley. Some scholars have suggested a higher figure of approximately 150,000 for the exodus.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah said that the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits should be investigated.
Speaking to IANS, Abdullah said: “Appoint an independent judicial inquiry commission to look into the events. That will show who was responsible.”
He also urged the Union government to take urgent steps for the resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits.
“Many have not got their monthly compensation amount for some time,” Abdulla said, adding: “Why has it been stopped? How can they manage their lives in these times of high inflation?”
During that turbulent years, Abdullah was the Chief Minister of the erstwhile state and Mufti Mohammad Sayed was the Union Home Minister in the V.P. Singh government, which was supported by both the BJP and the Communists.
The Kashmiri Pandit community has been attacking him for his failure to stop the violence against them. The community calls the exodus ‘genocide’ and has held Abdullah responsible for the violence.
Abdullah, in turn, has blamed the then J&K Governor, Jagmohan, for the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits, and has accused the BJP of using the community as a vote bank and doing nothing in return
The government is still running the relief program. In an RTI reply, the Home Ministry said that a separate Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme in J&K namely SRE Relief and Rehabilitation was introduced in 1989-90 which includes financial assistance in the form of administrative, socio-economic, health, security related assistance to Kashmiri migrants including Kashmiri Pandits.
The scheme includes relief to migrants from Kashmir and Jammu settled in J&K and Delhi in the form of cash or kind.