Rajat Sharma

The Kashmir Files: Why blame Jagmohan?

rajat-sirNational Conference leader and former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah on Friday made a remark which has reopened the wounds of Kashmiri Pandits who fled the Valley during the Nineties. He said the movie ‘The Kashmir Files’ was a concocted one and ‘a bundle of lies’.

Omar said, “I only want to ask the makers of this movie whether it is a documentary or a commercial film. If it is a documentary, we would believe that there may be truth to it, but the makers of the movie themselves say that it is not a documentary, but a film based on reality. The film incorrectly depicts the political scenario at the time of the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. The truth is that when the exodus took place, Farooq Abdullah was not the chief minister. This took place during Governor Raj, and Jagmohan Saheb was Governor. V. P. Singh was in power at the Centre, and who stood behind him, the BJP.”

Omar asked why the movie did not show that the BJP was supporting the V.P.Singh regime at the Centre when the exodus took place. “It is not okay to twist it this way.”

Omar said, Kashmiri Pandits were not the only victims of terrorism at that time. “Let us not forget the sacrifices of Muslims and Sikhs who were also targeted by the same gun. Many Muslims and Sikhs also migrated from Kashmir and haven’t returned yet”, he said.

The former CM also said that while the forced migration of Kashmiri Pandits “was regrettable, National Conference has tried and continues to play its part in bringing them back safely. But I do not think the makers of this movie want the displaced Kashmiri Pandits to return, they want them to always remain outside the valley.”

In other words, Omar Abdullah has given a clean chit to his father Farooq Abdullah, who was the chief minister, immediately before Governor’s Rule was imposed. His two-minute remark has deepened the scar of Kashmiri Pandits who have been suffering for the last three decades.

It is a fact that on January 19, 1990, when lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits, scared of threats over mosque loudspeakers, arsons and killings, fled the Valley, there was Governor’s Rule in the Valley. Jagmohan had just taken over as governor, but can he be held accountable for the exodus?

Omar is speaking half-truth. It is true that his father was not the Chief Minister on the day when the exodus began, but Omar does not want to reveal the whole truth. He is not revealing that ten hours before the homes of Kashmiri Pandits were set on fire and loudspeakers blared from mosques threatening them to leave the Valley, it was Dr Farooq Abdullah, who was the chief minister on January 18, and on that day, he resigned and left for London in a huff. Jagmohan took over as Governor on January 19, and by that time killings and arson had begun. What could the new Governor do within a few hours? Is it justified to blame Jagmohan for the exodus?

I am also surprised to watch Omar saying Muslims were also killed by terrorists and Muslims had also fled the Valley. Why is this point raised whenever the issue of exodus of Pandits is raised? It is like adding salt to their wounds.

When Omar says that his party continues to work for the rehabilitation of Pandits in the Valley, I find it ridiculous. It was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had prepared a massive Rs 500 crore project to rehabilitate Pandits, but it was Omar’s father Dr Farooq Abdullah who had then opposed it. Even the land for rehabilitating Kashmiri Pandits was identified in the Valley, but it was Omar’s party National Conference, which opposed it.

Jitendra Singh, Minister in PMO, replied to Omar Abdullah’s charges. He said, “people who give this type of arguments, either have forgotten history or they have not read about what had happened. Since Partition, all major decisions on Kashmir were taken by the then PM Jawaharlal Nehru and NC chief Sheikh Abdullah, and during the Eighties, major decisions on Kashmir were taken by Rajiv Gandhi and Farooq Abdullah. The immediate trigger for terrorism was in 1987 when elections in the Valley was rigged as Congress thought that Farooq was losing. Those who lost in that rigged election later joined JKLF.”

Jitendra Singh said, “Those who are saying that it was BJP which was behind all this, must know that the first political leader killed by terrorists in the Valley was BJP state president Tika Lal Taploo, the second politician killed was Prem Nath Bhatt, a BJP supporter, and the third was Justice Neelkanth Ganjoo. Does the opposition want to imply that we in BJP killed our own supporters?”

On Friday, martyr Tika Lal Taploo’s son Ashutosh Taploo alleged, it was during Farooq Abdullah’s rule that the killings of Kashmiri Pandits began. He said, “All this was part of a big conspiracy. As part of this conspiracy, Farooq Abdullah immediately left for London after he resigned. We Kashmiri Pandits still believe that Farooq Abdullah knew that terrorists were planning to kill us. That is why he resigned, and within hours, the killings and exodus began.”

Former J&K deputy CM and BJP leader Kavindra Gupta alleged that the deep chasm of hatred between Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims was dug several years before the exodus of 1990. Muslims in the Valley were instigated for political gains. In my show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Friday night, we showed a sound bite of Farooq Abdullah speaking to his party workers a few months ago about the deep hatred between Pandits and Muslims.

In my show, we also showed an old soundbite of Narendra Modi, nearly eight years ago, when he said, “the manner in which Kashmiri Pandits were identified by their religion and forced to flee the Valley, never happened in the past anywhere in the world. Let Farooq Abdullah stand in front of a mirror. He will find the scars of sin on his face. Farooq also knows what sins his father (Sheikh Abdullah) had committed.”

It is an established fact that Kashmiri Pandits living in the Valley, were killed, threatened and forced to flee the Valley. Official statistics say that there were 3.35 lakh Kashmiri Pandits living in December, 1989 in the Valley. Now the figure has dwindled to less than 3,000. By the time Jagmohan was appointed Governor in 1990, the script for the exodus of Pandits had already been written. Kashmiri Pandits had lost faith in police and administration, and the Governor was helpless.

During Emergency, Jagmohan was a trusted aide of Sanjay Gandhi, and when Rajiv Gandhi was Congress general secretary in 1984, he was appointed Governor of J&K for five years. By that time, Jagmohan had given clear indications to Rajiv Gandhi about the approaching storm in the Valley. In his book, he mentions how he wrote a letter to Rajiv Gandhi saying he and his friend Farooq Abdullah were deliberately presenting a false picture about Kashmir before the nation. Jagmohan was convinced that neither Rajiv nor Farooq tried to save the Kashmiri Pandits. By the time V P Singh became PM, and Jagmohan was sent as Governor for the second time, it was too late.

If you read his book “My Frozen Turbulence In Kashmir”, you will be horrified to note that a Governor could not sleep the whole night, because his telephones were constantly ringing through the night, from Kashmiri Pandits seeking his help. Many Kashmiri Pandits told him on phone that they were living in a state of fear and some of them told him, ‘tonight could be our last night’. Jagmohan, as Governor, had no other options, but to arrange for the immediate transport of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley. This, in a nutshell, of what the movie ‘The Kashmir Files’ is all about, and how politicians are trying to whitewash their follies and conspiracies, by presenting half-truths.

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