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Why Farooq Abdullah is Villain No. 1 in the eyes of Kashmiri Pandits?

Farooq Abdullah was the Chief Minister from November 7, 1986 to January 18, 1990. It was this period which saw Kashmir gradually falling down the precipice, and despite warnings by intelligence agencies the indifference seemed insurmountable.

IANS Reported by: IANS New Delhi Published on: March 19, 2022 16:07 IST
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah.
Image Source : PTI

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah.

A majority of Kashmiri Pandits view Farooq Abdullah, the former Chief Minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, as the main culprit behind the atrocities committed against them.

They believe that he was responsible for all the events that preceded the mass exodus of the minority community and the advent of terrorism in the Valley.

Farooq Abdullah was the Chief Minister from November 7, 1986 to January 18, 1990. It was this period which saw Kashmir gradually falling down the precipice, and despite warnings by intelligence agencies the indifference seemed insurmountable.

In February 1986, massive communal attacks occurred in South Kashmir. Muslim mobs looted and plundered or destroyed the properties and temples of Kashmiri Pandits.

Ghulam Mohammad Shah, the brother-in-law of Farooq Abdullah, was the Chief Minister then. He failed to curb the violence and called in the army to curb the mayhem.

His government was dismissed in March 1986 by the then Governor Jagmohan. It was reported that Mufti Sayeed, then a Congress leader, had instigated the violence as he was keen to be the Chief Minister and replace Shah.

Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister then who later gave Sayeed a seat in the Rajya Sabha and also made him a Union Minister. In November 1986, after months of hectic parleys, Rajiv Gandhi and Farooq Abdullah signed an accord and the latter was reinstated as the Chief Minister.

It was this period that saw the build-up to the pogrom.

Ramesh Raina, President (All India Kashmiri Samaj (AIKS), said, "This 1986-1989 period is significant in the history of Kashmir, which is often ignored. The exodus did not happen overnight. There was full preparation for this. Abudllah fooled the nation with this accord. You can say he was incompetent and he didn't have any control, or you can say he was totally involved, knew everything and let things build up."

Panun Kashmir leader Ramesh Manvati said, "Muslim Conference, the original avatar of 'National' Conference started as a group to fight for the rights of Muslims in Kashmir in 1930s; turned their tide against then Maharaja Hari Singh; nourished the dream of an Independent Kashmir (following their call of 'Quit Kashmir' in 1940s) -- leading to the dismissal of its founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1950s ... The legacy of communal Muslim mindset and inconsistencies in National Conference's approach towards minorities -- Kashmiri Pandits and the 'idea of India' they represent have been carried forward by Farooq Abdullah, during his long reign as CM of J&K.

"Farooq Abdullah, as a tacit supporter of the happenings on the ground was busy playing golf and giving joy rides to Bollywood heroines, before finally choosing to run away to London when Kashmir was burning and a full-blown genocide of Pandits was taking place."

Former Director General of Police of Jammu and Kashmir, Shesh Paul Vaid, tweeted on March 16, "Many people in the country do not know this #KashmirFiles fact: first batch of ISI trained were arrested by J&K Police but ill-thought political decisions had them released and the same terrorists later on led the many terrorist organisations in J&K."

Vaid was the DGP of J&K from December 31, 2016 till September 6, 2018. He also added in his tweet, "Some of the notorious names: Mohammed Afzal Sheikh of Trehgam Rafiq Ahmed Ahangar Mohammad Ayub Najar Farooq Ahmed Ganai Ghulam Mohammed Gujri Farooq Ahmed Malik Nazir Ahmed Sheikh Ghulam Mohi-Ud-Din Teli. Could this have been possible w/o the knowledge of the Union Govt of 1989?"

The fact that the intelligence agencies had repeatedly been alerting about the hordes of Kashmiris, especially youth, crossing over to PoK for arms training, went largely unheard of.

A lot of kidnappings were taking place, especially of the government employees, a maximum number of them were Kashmiri Pandits, but no action was taken.

Threats were openly given in local newspapers, posters were pasted and hit-lists made, but the administration seemed lifeless. The then Governor Jagmohan had mentioned the situation to then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi through letters dated April 20, 1990.

"Need I remind you that from the beginning of 1988, I had started sending 'Warning Signals' to you about the gathering storm in Kashmir? But you and the power wielders around you had neither the time, nor the inclination, nor the vision, to see these signals. They were so clear, so pointed, that to ignore them was to commit sins of true historical proportions," Jagmohan wrote in the letter.

His fear came true and the minorities and moderates had to bear the brunt even as Farooq Abdullah left the Valley for London soon after.

"Fifty per cent Kashmiri Pandits fled on January 19. It did not happen suddenly. Farooq Abdullah knows all. He has to answer," said Ramesh Raina.

"Farooq Abdullah ran away to London while the Valley was burning. He was the founder member of Alfata, JKLF. While he was in chair, youth were freely transported to Pakistan through the LoC. How was it possible without his knowing?"

"Why were terrorists being released from jail then? Why did he resign overnight and the next day the exodus happened? It was all planned because then all would have come to his head. So he resigned. But could the exodus have happened without a plot behind it," he asked.

While Farooq Abdullah was in J&K, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was the Home Minister at the Centre. His role as HM is also questioned by the community.

Surinder Kaul, the chief of Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora, said, "After we were forced to flee from Kashmir, we staged protests. I remember one meeting with then Home Minister Mufti Sayeed in 1990. All he had to say was 'yes, this is not ok'.

"He had no answers to our questions. We told him, 'why the local police and intelligence network had just vanished. Why was no one doing their work? Why was there no security'. But he just kept mum. That day I realised that the state and Central power system of our country had collapsed and no one was there to help us."

"Farooq Abdullah has double standards. He always speaks one thing in Delhi and another in Kashmir. He never provided good governance. He protected the elite and never worked for the common people. To keep his fiefdom alive, he divided the communities. When Kashmiri Pandits were being killed, maimed, women were gang-raped, loot and arson had become the order of the day, where was he," Kaul asked.

There have been times when Farooq Abdullah had borne the brunt of Kashmiri Pandits' ire. In 2019, when he tried to meet a group of Kashmiri Pandits, who had come to Srinagar on a pilgrimage visit, he had to make a hastened retreat after slogans were raised against him.

Kashmiri Pandits feel that if Farooq Abdullah had taken strong steps, Kashmir would not have fallen to terrorism and the minorities would not have been tormented and forced out.

The community is seeking answers and wants a judicial commission to be instituted and Farooq Abdullah to be the first one to be investigated.

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