Representational image
Representational image
PTI File Photo

On January 19, 1990, over five lakh Kashmiri Pandits were compelled to leave their homeland almost overnight -- fleeing a genocidal campaign. While this was a tipping point, the persecution was not a new phenomenon. Even in the late 1980s, many Pandits had found themselves placed on hitlists, even as others were threatened or discriminated against. The message from the insurgents was simple - they wanted the Kashmiri Pandits gone from the Valley.

In January 1990, the government led by Farooq Abdullah had been dismissed, and Governor's rule had been imposed in the northern state. Ghulam Mohammad Shah had overthrown his brother as the leader of the state in 1984. It was the focus on religious sentiments at this time that led in part to the sudden spike in favour for insurgent groups and opponents of India.

As the animosity towards the Hindus in the region grew, the Pandits decided to leave the valley. The exodus was not a one day event, but January 19 is considered to be the beginning. For many Kashmiris, this day is marked as "Exodus Day" in remembrance of those who were killed or forced to flee.

Over the last few years, as the use of social media rose to the fore, January 19 has also become a day to call for justice, and to remember those who had suffered. Since Tuesday morning, "Kashmiri Pandit", "Kashmir" and "Kashmiri Exodus" has been trending on Twitter as many share personal stories. Others have taken to social media platforms with a grim reminder that 31 years later, the Kashmiri Pandits still remain unable to return.

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