On January 19th in 1990, Jagmohan Malhotra was appointed as the fifth Governor of Jammu and Kashmir to contain the armed uprising. After the kidnapping of Rubaiya Sayeed, the armed rebels had become popular overnight. Jagmohan who oversaw multiple massacres, is also widely regarded as one of the facilitators of the “Pandit migration” from the valley.
Jagmohan wanted Kashmiri Pandits to stay out of the valley for some time so that he could kill as many Kashmiris as possible. He gave a statement on his inaugration, that he had come as a nurse to Kashmir, “to help the patient with love, compassion and service to regain his health.” Within no time, the nurse had become a surgeon, performing worst known massacres in the history of South Asia.
The plan orchestrated with meticulous planning of having state transportation at the disposal, to carry Pandits across the Pir Panjal. It turned out to be a bruising experience for the Pandit community.
Like in other parts of Kashmir, Pandits in our locality too became the victims of this unholy contrive. Pandits were living dominantly in the Haal village, located some 10 km from Pulwama on the Pulwama-Shopian road. They also left the village with the hope that they would return after a month’s period.
There were almost 100 Pandit families in the village all but only five stayed.
Soon after the Pandits left, Indian forces occupied their houses, their land and established a military base which is still present in the village. Not only did they take control of their property but resorted to looting and plundered everything whatever they found (including the copper utensils/vessels) in the abandoned houses.
Pandit Omkar Nath, a retired government employee, is one among the few who stayed back in the village and did not migrate.
According to Pandit Omkar Nath, no one threatened the Pandits here and those who migrated left on their own. “They only took a few belongings with them because they were very optimistic about their return” says Omkar Nath, in the house that he has lived all his life.
“We are living in peace here, even in the 90’s when the armed rebellion was at its peak and majority of our brethren had left the village, armed fighters would visit us and ask if we needed anything, sometimes they would help us in the paddy fields too” recollects Omkar Nath, with age drawing on his face.
“We never felt alone although we are the only family now living in the village.There is no discrimination against us. We are happy. Why should I defame my Muslim brothers when they did nothing wrong with us,” said Omkar Nath who now lives with his two sons in the village.
Last year when the idea of separate Pandit colonies was discussed, one of the clusters was identified in this village; besides this, there is already a Pandit housing colony which has been allotted to employed Kashmiri migrant Pandits, but Pandit Omkar Nath never thought of moving out.
“We don’t care, whether Kashmir will become India or Pakistan. This is our place and we are not going anywhere” averred Pandit Omkar on the political situation that has entrenched the valley into a deadly conflict.