Kashmir 28 Years Back: In Conversation with JAGMOHAN-Decoding Kashmiri Pandit Exodus

What happened Before and Beyond Jan 1990? What were the sequence of events that led to Kashmir Crisis… Who is responsible for Kashmiri Pandit exodus? Amit and Ashish Kaul spoke on the issue of #KashmirConflict and many aspects of Kashmir Politics with The Former Governor of J&K, Padma Vibhushan Jagmohan“Chaupal” presents the edited parts of the candid conversation.

Government headed by Dr. Farooq Abdullah, crossed all limits of permissiveness, and virtually abdicated all authority to the militants and allowed them to establish complete sway over the valley”.

Why was the government machinery so helpless and ineffective in January 1990 before you took up the charge of Governor in J&K?  Do you believe Congress and National Conference are equally responsible, as much as the separatists are for the level of anti-India sentiments or separatism that is seen in Kashmir?
In the six months period, before my arrival in the State for the second term, on January 19, 1990, the National  Conference-Congress coalition Government, headed by Dr. Farooq Abdullah, crossed all limits of permissiveness, and virtually abdicated all authority to the militants and allowed them to establish complete sway over the valley.  From June 19, 1989 to January 1990, there were 319 violent incidents in the valley- 21 armed attacks, 114 bomb blasts, 112 arsons and 72 incidents of mob-violence. The month of October alone witnessed 50 bomb explosions and fifteen cases of firing by militants.
To demonstrate to the whole world their total hold over the Valley, the militants kidnapped, on December 8, Dr. Rubaiya Sayeed, daughter of the Union Home Minister, and released her only after the government capitulated before them and conceded their demand of freeing five top terrorists. All this resulted in further increase of incidents of terrorism and subversion. Two officers of the Intelligence Bureau were murdered after their movements had been made known to the militants by the subversive elements within the local police. Let alone the critical steps that were ignored, it was appeasement that was taken to the extreme. Out of many cases cited in My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir, two examples may be given.

“A number of mosques were fitted with high-intensity loud-speakers from which pro-Azadi, pro-Pakistan and anti-Indian slogans were blared incessantly, and calls were given  for waging ‘Jihad’ against the infidels”

First, when infiltration in services was becoming deeper and deeper, when ‘intelligence’ was fast drying up and when the press was bringing stories of subservices plans like TOPAC, Dr. Farooq Abdullah’s government decided to further appease the militants. It released 70 hard-core militants whose detention had earlier been approved by an Advisory Board, headed by the Chief Justice of J & K High Court. They had received training in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and established a close relationship with the ISI and its agents. They knew all the devious routes of crossing the Line of Control. Their simultaneous release enabled them to occupy key positions in the network of subversion and terrorism and to complete the chain which took them again to Pakistan to bring arms to indulge in killings and kidnappings and other acts of terrorism.

Second, under a plan, conceived and sponsored by the ISI and its agents, a huge machinery of inciting hatred and violence was set in motion. A number of mosques were fitted with high-intensity loud-speakers from which pro-Azadi, pro-Pakistan and anti-Indian slogans were blared incessantly, and calls were given for waging ‘Jihad’ against the infidels. Simultaneously, propaganda material, arousing religious frenzy, was prepared and circulated on a massive scale. No action to remove the loud-speakers to prevent incitement to violence through them was taken by Dr. Farooq Abdullah’s coalition government. Nor did it do anything to seize subversive materials. The poisonous ideas were thus allowed to be injected freely in the mindscape of the common Kashmiri.

“These provisions (Article 370 and Article 35A) keep alive the unwholesome legacies of the two nation theory, and suffocate the very idea of India …These provisions go against the fundamental principles of fair governance and have resulted in creating a land without justice: a land full of crudities and contradictions …” 

During your term as Governor in 1984, did you see traces or hints of terrorism in the state?
A number of tragic blunders of truly historic proportion were made from the very beginning. The provisions of Article 370 and Article 35A, for example, are two of them. In 1984 itself, I had sensed what I have recorded in the very first edition of my book – Frozen turbulence in Kashmir: “These provisions keep alive the unwholesome legacies of the two nation theory, and suffocate the very idea of India. They prop up self-serving oligarchs who exploit the constitutional illiteracy of poor masses, inject fanaticism in them and nurture the microbes of subversion in the society. They could become an epicenter of a violent earthquake in the valley– an earthquake, the tremors of which would be felt all over the country with unforeseen consequences”.

You just mentioned Article 370 and Article 35A to be the culprits, does the provision of Special status do injustice to some sections of the people of Kashmir?
These provisions go against the fundamental principles of fair governance and have resulted in creating a land without justice: a land full of crudities and contradictions. The sad story of displaced persons from West Pakistan is just one example of the phenomenon. A few thousand families from West Pakistan migrated to Jammu and Kashmir and settled there. They are now in the State for over seven decades. But these unfortunate persons, who were forced to migrate due to compulsions of circumstances beyond their control, have been denied elementary human rights. They, their children and grandchildren have no citizenship rights in Jammu and Kashmir. They cannot participate in the elections to the State Assembly or municipality or panchayat. They cannot even secure loans from the State Government or its agencies. Young boys and girls cannot get admission to medical, engineering or agricultural colleges in the State, even when these institutions are set up with financial assistance of the Union Government.

“A large number of Indians have proved the worst enemy of Indian unity and stability.”

Why could not any remedial measure be taken in this regard?
Unfortunately, those who had been in control of nation’s destiny showed little inclination to apply the correctives. They remained prisoners of their myopic and selfish politics. A sizeable section of the media, in its anxiety to look liberal, acted as apologist, for these destabilizing provisions and raised misleading questions to plant doubts in the mind of the public by drawing a parallel between Article 370 and Articles 371A, 371G  and the like. The parallel is spurious and untenable. “In states other than Jammu and Kashmir, there is no separate constitution, no separate citizenship, no limited applicability of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Indian Constitution, no exclusive vesting of residuary power, no separate commission for delimitations of constituencies, no appointment of Governor under the State Constitution and no fixation of his terms, salary and allowances, etc. Under the said Constitution”. These are nothing but the seedbed for the growth of separatism, subversion and secession.  Regrettably, in this respect, a large number of Indians have proved the worst enemy of Indian unity and stability.

“So far as the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley, from September 1989 onward is concerned, it was carried out under a diabolical plan hatched by the ISI of Pakistan and hardcore local militants”

As an administrator and somebody who has understood and seen the Kashmir terrorism from very close, do you agree that the core cause of Kashmiri terrorism is not only anti-India but anti-Hindu as well? Why?
It is not only anti-India and anti-Hindu but also anti-Islam, as practiced in Kashmir before the advent of current forces of Fundamentalism and Fanaticism. So far as the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley, from September 1989 onward is concerned, it was carried out under a diabolical plan hatched by the ISI of Pakistan and hardcore local militants. Prominent members of the community were picked up for slaughter, one by one. For example, Tikka Lal Tiploo, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party was shot dead on September 14, Judge N.K. Ganjoo on November 4  and journalist P.N. Bhatt on December 28. The terror-stricken Pandit community, in a memorandum dated January 16, 1990, to the then Governor said: “It is the militants who are the de facto rulers in the Valley today… Happenings in the Valley are indicative of the fundamentalists’ design regarding their planned targets of attack on the minorities… The pace of exodus has further accelerated now… Not even a single assailant of the minority leaders has been apprehended by the Police.

How do you feel for been blamed by sections of interested groups for facilitating the exodus of Hindus from Kashmir?
In an answer to the allegations that the Pandits flight was encouraged by me, Ghulam Mohammad Sofi, Editor-in-Chief of Srinagar Times, in a recent interview, underlined: “It is a total lie. It was a part of the systematic propaganda.  The exodus was a sequel to a plan worked out in advance. It had nothing to do with Jagmohan. The conditions were too bad when he assumed office on January 19, 1990, for the second term”.

“Without causing any tragedy like that of Blue-Star or Tinanmen Square, I frustrated all the designs of the conspirators and militants.”

Why was a massive disinformation campaign of this genre directed against you in person?
There was a sinister background to this campaign. Before the ‘pro-Pakistan’ and ‘pro-Azadi’ elements could close their jaws on the Valley on January 26, I managed to pull it back for the Union by way of well-planned, multi-pronged, strategy which was swiftly and determinedly executed, from January 19 to 26. Without causing any tragedy like that of Blue-Star or Tinanmen Square, I frustrated all the designs of the conspirators and militants.
The rulers of Pakistan, who were hoping that it was merely a matter of a week or so when Kashmir Valley would fall in their lap like a ripe apple, were exasperated. They never thought that someone from the Indian side of Line of Control would take the action that I took. They realized that I was the main stumbling block in their way. They were also conscious of the fact that, during my first term as Governor, from April 1984 of June 1989, I had developed an excellent rapport with the people of the Valley and the civil services. They knew that I had the potential of destroying the network of subversion and terrorism, putting the governance machinery back on the rail and bring home to the common Kashmiri that his constitutional illiteracy was being exploited by the vested interests, that like any other Indian he was already free, that his social, religious and cultural identities stood safeguarded, and that huge financial assistance was available to him every year from the Central government. They, therefore, resorted to counter-attack against me personally and gave top priority to their plan of demolishing the image that I had built for myself during my first term and to get me out of the State.

“Benazir Bhutto targeted me and not the Prime Minister, Home Minister or any other top functionary of India because she knew that I was aware of the deeper currents of Kashmir’s polity and administration and had the capacity to fight (back)…” 

Benazir Bhutto, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan herself came to Muzaffarabad and incited the Kashmiris against me. Made during the course of a televised speech, her shocking cutting gesture – striking her right hand on the palm of her left hand and ranting Jag-Jag-Mo-Mo-Han-Han — is still remembered. She targeted me and not the Prime Minister, Home Minister or any other top functionary of India because she knew that I was aware of the deeper currents of Kashmir’s polity and administration and had the capacity to fight and frustrate the various components of the plan that was being ruthlessly executed by her ISI.

“Changes in outlook and practical approach could bring a new pattern which is appeasement free, terror-free and help in reaching the goal of a Mighty, Enlightened and forward-looking India.”

What changes have occurred under Narendra Modi regime? What is their potential for future improvement?
As brought out in the latest (12th) edition of the book, the successive governments, till the coming into being of Narendra Modi, governments have remained enchained, in one form or the other, by the politics of superficiality and softness. This has now undergone a basic alteration. An attitude of resolute practicality has been adopted and its contours defined as given in the chapter, titled: Onward to a New Resolve. Apart from its seven ingredients, vis-à-vis, Pakistan, which include the following of the doctrines of ‘deterrences’, of ‘compellence’, of ‘activism’, and of being ‘offensive-defensive’, it has been made clear to all concerned that the framework of Jammu & Kashmir solution could be created, within the Indian Union, on seven planks: insaniyat, jamhooriyat, kashmiriyat, ekkta, mamata, vikas and vishwas. (Humanity; Democracy; Kashmiri culture; Unity; Compassion; Development and Trust).
These changes in outlook and practical approach could bring a new pattern which is appeasement free, terror-free and help in reaching the goal of a Mighty, Enlightened and forward-looking India.

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