Kashmiri Pandits held a protest demonstration outside the Raj Bhavan in Jammu on Tuesday, as they marked the day in 1990 when they left the Kashmir Valley in droves, a year after militancy had erupted.
The protesters, who called it the ‘holocaust day’, also submitted a memorandum to governor NN Vohra and demanded a judicial probe into the community’s exodus.
“The names of those responsible for the mass exodus should be made public,” said Ravinder Raina, president of the All State Kashmiri Pandit conference.
About 57,000 families left the Valley in the early nineties and most of them settled down in Jammu and other parts of the country. A few thousand Pandits stayed put in the Valley.
Agni Shekhar, a protester, called the community’s migration “ethnic cleansing”.
“We were forced to leave our houses in the name of ‘azadi (demad of freedom by the separatists)’. The parliament should pass a resolution naming the event as religious genocide,” he said.
Pandit leader Ajay Chrungoo said the protest was also aimed at highlighting the “continuous neglect” by successive governments at the Centre as well as in the state.
With militancy-related violence having declined over the recent years, the central government did announce a slew of measures, including government jobs, to facilitate the community’s return to the Valley. However, not many seemed keen.
Many among the community are demanding that they will not accept any proposal of their return if it doesn’t include a “secure zone” for them. Others want a separate ‘homeland’ with a union territory status in the Valley.