Who committed ethnic cleansing in Kashmir?

Saleem Samad
Published : 22:34, Sep 09, 2019 | Updated : 22:39, Sep 09, 2019

Saleem SamadPakistan's prime minister Imran Khan claims India's move to end the special status enjoyed by Kashmir by scrapping Article 370 was motivated by a 'Hindu supremacist version of Hitler's Lebensraum.'
For the sake of argument, if I agree to his argument, has he not been responsible for the violence which has significantly changed the Valley's demography? Pakistan has been aiding and abetting the jihadists responsible for terror in Kashmir.
Let's not forget that from the summer of 1989 until the winter of 1990, Kashmir witnessed a grotesque and bloody ethnic cleansing. Islamic militants operating in the Kashmir Valley sent a very dark, chilling message to non-Muslims in the region.
In effect, their warning said: "We order you to leave Kashmir immediately; otherwise your children will be harmed. We are not scaring you but this land is only for Muslims and is the land of Allah. Sikhs and Hindus cannot stay here. If you do not obey, we will start with your children. Zindabad Kashmir Liberation!"
SUCH sermons delivered from the pulpits, radical Islamists encouraged Muslims to take up arms and drive out the "Kafirs," the non-believers. The mosques in the Valley – roughly 1100 of them – blared their hate-filled, inflammatory speeches through their loudspeakers. "Islam is our objective, the Quran is our constitution, jihad is the way of our life," they called out.
The scary part was that they did not hesitate to issue warnings to the non-Muslims: "If you want to live in Kashmir, you must convert to Islam."
Spineless newspapers in Kashmir, published "press releases" funded by terror networks called on all Muslims to wage their Jihad against India.
On 14 April 1990, Al Safa, a local Urdu language daily, published a "press release" from Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, warning all non-Muslims to "leave Kashmir within 36 hours or face our bullets."
Hours after the deadline was over, the Jihadists launched a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing. Armed with Kalashnikov-AK47s, they patrolled the streets shouting slogans: "Oh Kafirs! Leave our Kashmir"; "From East to West, there will be an Islamic Ummah" They desecrated Hindu temples and vandalized several places of worship.
In the darkness of night, Hindu families were terrorized: men were dragged from their homes and shot dead. They were systematically targeted for their faith, which was not Islam.
Kashmiris take cover as Indian security forces (unseen) fire teargas shells during clashes, after scrapping of the special constitutional status for Kashmir by the Indian government, in Srinagar, August 30, 2019. REUTERSThe terror campaign claimed perhaps 60,000 lives, according to Amy Waldman of the New York Times.
Over half-a-million Hindu Pandits fled the Valley. This mass exodus caused a dramatic shift in Kashmir Valley's demography. Today, only a few thousand Hindus are left there.
Three Jihadi terror outfits - Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) – launched these attacks. They are Pakistan's proxies – "strategic assets," as the Pakistani military calls them. They were created, financed and trained by Pakistan's dreaded ISI.
After the expulsion of Kashmir's Pandits, the ISI operated 30 training camps in Pakistan for Kashmiri militants in 1990; by 2002, that number had ballooned to 128 camps training one thousand militants a year.
Unfortunately, the atrocities perpetrated by Pakistan backed Jihadist groups on Kashmiri pandits did not lead to global condemnation--- until many years later.
With Modi's revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, troll armies are drawing comparisons between Kashmir and Palestine; the world's media are busy painting a narrative presenting "blood brothers" India and Israel as "invaders," "occupiers," and "colonizers."
Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan's former Ambassador to the United States, stated that Pakistan supports terrorism.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned, "Pakistan must not provide a safe-haven for terrorists to threaten international security," as it is currently doing. Some of the world's most wanted terrorists - such as Hafiz Saeed, Maulana Masood Azhar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh – find a warm home in Pakistan and are consistently protected by the ISI.
Ironically, it is Imran Khan, who in a recent tweet, has expressed his concern over "impending genocide of Kashmiris" alleging that the there is an "attempt to change the demography of Kashmir through ethnic cleansing."
Saleem Samad, is a journalist, recipient of Ashoka Fellow (USA) and Hellman-Hammett Award, also Bangladesh correspondent of Paris based international media rights organization, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Twitter @saleemsamad; Email: [email protected]

***The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions and views of Bangla Tribune.