Are displaced Kashmiri Hindus returning to their homeland?

September 25, 2009

Tens of thousands of Kashmiri Hindus, locally known as Pandits, fled their ancestral homes in droves 20 years ago after a bloody rebellion broke out against New Delhi’s rule in India’s only Muslim-majority state.

Now encouraged by the sharp decline in rebel violence across the Himalayan region, authorities have formally launched plans to help Pandits return home.

Will Pandits, who say they “live in exile in different parts of their own country” return to their homeland in Kashmir where two decades of violence has left nothing untouched and brought misery to the scenic region, its people and its once easy-going society?

Earlier this month, the government constituted a high level committee led by Kashmir’s Revenue Minister, Raman Bhalla, which will monitor the return of displaced Hindus and effective implementation of New Delhi’s rehabilitation package which includes financial assistance of 750,000 rupees for house  construction.

The initiative is driven by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s package of 16,000 million rupees last year for the return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Hindus living as migrants in several parts of the country, mostly in Jammu, the Hindu-dominated winter capital of the state.

Many Hindus who fled Kashmir have sold their homes or lost their kin in the violence that has also killed more than 47, 000 people including Muslim militants and civilians.

Some Pandit groups who have opposed the initiative are demanding a separate, guarded homeland within the Kashmir Valley while others complained that authorities are not meeting their security concerns.

In the largest migration since the 1947 partition of the subcontinent into mainly Hindu India and Islamic Pakistan, nearly 250,000 Kashmiri Pandits left for safer places in India after a bloody insurgency broke out in 1989.

In the past, Pandits have been deterred by a series of attacks by suspected militants. At least 209 Hindus have been also killed since 1989.

Though Kashmiri separatists have made fresh appeals urging Hindus to return to the Valley, they have asked them to live side by side with Muslims rather than in “security zones”.

Bhalla says 15,000 families have agreed to return and at least 200 apartments have been contracted so far.

Will Kashmiri Pandits return to their homes in Kashmir, where still almost daily gun battles, between troops and Muslim rebels, and occasional bomb explosions take place?

(PHOTO: A Kashmiri Pandit holds a lighted earthen lamp at a shrine in Khirbhawani, 30 km east of Srinagar May 31, 2009. REUTERS/Danish Ismail)


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Pandits were a part of kashmir. It was an amalgamated society with muslims and hindus living side by side. Although wtever happened to them was not right from any perspective but one feels sad at the demands of separate zones for them. If they really want to come back they will have to again be part of the society not a separate demographic zone in kashmir. They will have to live with us not in separate zones. Right now they call themselves living in exile in their own country. After settling in separate zones in kashmir they will be living in exile in their own home state.

Posted by Imtiyaz | Report as abusive

I hope the government and even the people residing there as of now, make it cordial for all to return and stay without any derogatory arrangements and circumstances. I so wish that normalcy returns for one and all.. violence will never spare even the ones who support it.

Posted by pooja | Report as abusive

Let the Government not raise expectations. We’ve seen their discrimination with minority Himdus of the Kashmir valley since their exile in 1990. The state remained a mute spectator to the exodus of Pandits.Let their be confidence building measures from majority Muslims of the valley to show their care and affection for the forgotten Pandits.Let them apologise for the exodus.Let them demand action against terrorists like Yasin Malik, Bitta Karate and Javed Mir for their brutality against Pandit community.Return to Kashmir will be an action by mutual understanding, hence automatic. It cannot be forced by the Government or even the separatist elements; who are famous for their crocodile tears on and off.Let the Government constitude an enquiry commission to study the reasons behind exodus of Pandits. Pandits live in exile in their own country..but they have an equal claim over KASHMIR.

Posted by Ashish Sharma | Report as abusive

migration of pundits was an unfortunate thing, but equal number of muslims allso migrated and nobody is talking about their retirn. This is sad part of indian democracy. And more the author has distorted facts only a lil over 100,000 pundits migrated after than hindu authoriti encouraged them. The author should go back and look at facts.

Posted by shugufta | Report as abusive

I feel the same, they should live among the people and the security forces need to protect every Indian and not only hindus. I know a little about the situations in kashmir, but I believe and hope kashmir has changed a lot in 20 years.

Posted by brainythinker | Report as abusive

“what goes around comes around” penned Tracy Sipp Stylist seen on Real Housewives of Atlanta. Sipp is staunch Christian believes in karma and understand that regardless of the religious dogma; when a people are exiled that there is unrest until they can return home.There should be peace but only through talks and concessions can true peace be a reality. They must maintain fairness and there should be not inequity for either party. We hope that there are no more lives lost on either side. Peace to everyone.

Posted by Coutney Whitaker | Report as abusive

Forcing pundits to live where they used to live before exposes them to exact same risk for which they left the place. While their peaceful neighbor muslims would definitely like the pundits to leave with them, the extremists would get easy targets to spread their terror. Hence although ideally pundits should be able to live with their muslim neighbors, since the threat of terrorism still exists to large extent, it makes sense to provide them housing in high security area.

Posted by Sahil | Report as abusive

Why has Govt of India & Govt of J&K realized now about Kashmiri Pandits (KP) returning to Kashmir valley now? Why the same concern was not there from last 20 years when Kashmiri Pandits were living in exodus ?The real cunning reason behind all this gimmick is that no work (administrative or economic) is happening in the state of J&K – nobody works in government offices.Non-KPs who have favoured and supported militancy or terrorism (in one way or another) do not work and expect full months salary. Before this forced migration all most all administrative and economic government bodies in Kashmir were run and managed by KPs. All Banks, Education and healthcare organisations were run by Kashmir Pandits who were educated and dexterous.Corruption, inefficiency, no development has become poignant since Kashmiri Pandits have been forced out of their homeland.The Government bodies & private organizations fear that taking any strict action against these people (Non-KPs) who do not work but still want full months salary will get them in trouble from militants side – any tom dick and harry can threaten you that he has got links with militants (as some of the militants are his cousin & brothers). Obviously which manager wants to get shot dead for scolding and telling this employee to work.Thats why Omar Abdullah Government now wants Kashmiri Pandits backs so that somebody at least works in Kashmir and does not threaten that he has got links with militants.

Posted by Rahul Durani | Report as abusive

Hindus should be provided safe havens, separate islands, inside the valley and protected by special security for some time until all persecution stops. Otherwise they will be an easy targets for the islamists and terrorists. Look at the state of hindus, christians and sikhs in Pakistan. The same jihadists support all violence and they clearly advocate killing of all infidels. Indian central and state governments should collectively restore the habitate for hindus in kashmir valley. iam surprised a muslim writes about suffering hindus that too in Reuters. Impressed.

Posted by avatar | Report as abusive

Well…. i believe the community is most welcomed by everyone. But i dont know why a person has to be paid to come back home. I believe the economic package makes economically weak families as the target of govt. If money is the thing to lure the community then i believe Mr. PM should consider the same package for the locals whose houses are brought down by the Indian security agencies or hose who,s lone bread earner is kiled by Indian made bullets. After all everyone suffers.

Posted by shahnawaz | Report as abusive

I disagree with the money policy of GOI. We all have seen that pandits are returning by themselves without any policies. Past years have seen that many pandits have returned back and started earning their livelihoods. Its just a psychological assurance they need. They know that people still live in harmony. It will be a slow process of returning. We should not expect that all pandits will arrive on the same day just akin mass migration. All India needs to do is stop Human right abuses and let the people live in harmony as they lived. This will be best ever package for everyone…… Hindu, Muslim, sikhs

Posted by Saqib | Report as abusive

I agree all the Kashmiri Pandits living outside Kashmir should return to their homeland but they should not live in security zones, that will alienate them more from Muslim countrymen. We dont mind if they are not part of the struggle but they should not even oppose it.

Posted by Zuhaib Khan | Report as abusive

Pandits are welcome to the valley. but what about all those equal number of Muslims who have migrated to other parts of India. Government, if sincere and secular, should also help their return.

Posted by Nabi | Report as abusive

The author of the blog is very biased and has no knowledge about the facts. It is not militants who sacred these people away it is then governor of Jammu and Kashmir who asked them to fled so that Muslim are only killed in the valley. Anyways I am sure every Kashmiri is happy about their return. Pundits you are welcome home

Posted by shayan | Report as abusive

I believe government should speed up their return. it is long time now they have been away from their home. I wish and pray government is sincere about bringing back Kashmiri Pandits.

Posted by Saqi | Report as abusive

Its a wellcome move by the government and the positive thing is that the pundits have agreed to come back,so it will be good old times again if voilence keeps dipping down.

Posted by adeel shafi | Report as abusive

I think its was there to happen the only isssue was that voilence comes to its low and pundits return back as they have suffered this alienation from there motherland.

Posted by juneeda shafi | Report as abusive

Pundits were a part of the kashmiri society so there return is very important i wish them all the very best for returning to there place of origin.

Posted by hina shafi | Report as abusive

I fear that the Pundits if returning, will get annihilated by Muslims who kill all non Muslims due to a book. Pundits are fools if they have been sweet talked by Muslims, because, sooner or later they will finish them off like they did it in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bengal etc. The Congress government will cry crocodile tears along with National Conference and then probably toss the issue off like the last peg before good night sleep.

Posted by Rohit | Report as abusive

If the pandits are seccular mind then they are most welcome. But if they are not then they should not return back and make unnecessary issues. we dont want unnecassary burden on our homeland

Posted by saqib | Report as abusive

Dear Writer,Very good article after a span of days from this website on Hindus in a Muslim dominated State in India.Thanks for your unbiased thoughts by fine writing for its readers,policy makers and its users for day today happenings.Here, in India, at the time of elections, many political parties used to raise the unsolved issues of Kashmir Pundits for some gains in election results.These injustices not only occurred in India, but also other parts of the world.Indian Prime Minister has really taken some important steps,good packages for Kashmir Pundits to return to their home state and for their works.As on today,overall view is,Kashmir is backing to peaceful coexistence with all her minorities.This is a very good sign for State progress and to her own people.Thanks for highlighting of recent welfare measures by Central and State governments towards her minorities for overall developments.

Posted by krishnamurthi ramachandran | Report as abusive

Kashmir has been a place of worship for all religions from ancient budhist seat to shavism to the muslim sufis,conflict has been part of every society from the past to the modern day where religion has been one of the reason,but kashmiri society got divided on a political front and india supporting pundits had to leave for safety,but today the things have changed guns are sielent kashmiris want there pundit brothers to return and history will witness a great wellcome of people displaced who lived with hate and misery in camps across the country back again to live for what they never wanted to leave and peace reclaims the glory lost of there motherland.

Posted by shah niyaz | Report as abusive

kashmiri Pandits must understand that no power on world can provide them the security, but it is only their kashmiri counterparts who can safeguard their lives, and for that they must respect the aspirations of the majority community.

Posted by Kadri | Report as abusive

no matter Kashmir is their real home, and they are living the self-imposed exile in a foreign country, but it is the fate they have choosen for themselves by colloborating with India by trying to give this freedom struggle the color of communal voilence.

Posted by Kadri | Report as abusive

Very well written and objective blog.

Posted by r | Report as abusive

The pandits are welcome but they must respect the feelings and aspirations of the majority community. And should stop being stooges of enemy India

Posted by Kadri | Report as abusive

216 pandits killed in the valley by Freedom fighters. 1,00,000 muslims killed in the valley by Indian occupational troops.

Posted by KAdri | Report as abusive

welcome Kashmiri pandits home but don’t play in the hands of Indian intellegince agencies as they have been using you from the last six decades to spy on Muslims of the Valley.Welcome again we can live together though with different political opinions

Posted by aijaz | Report as abusive

Ya its a very good atep by the GOI. I appreciate the move and hope that maximum pandits take it as an oppurtunity to return to their homeland. And not to expected the unexpected. Good Luck

Posted by stanz | Report as abusive

Every one wants peace. No one wants to live in Exile. Whatever happened in past is a past and history. If people want to live in history then they must not think of future. Its the right time to forget history and make a new begining. Its now or never

Posted by samir | Report as abusive

i think kashmiri pandits should return to their home land but they asking for seprate state within it is a silly request

Posted by shabista | Report as abusive

I think every person has the right to live freely in his/her motherland whether he/she is a muslim,christian,sikh or hindu …this is a step taken towards peace…we should appaluad it but on the other hand the Indian Govt has to long way to go to win the hearts of kashmiri people.

Posted by dia | Report as abusive

If the comments by some muslim Kashmiris on here is indicative of the attitude of the community at large, than it seems that Kashmiri Pandits will not be welcome in their homeland.Good job folks. Great way to make the case for an independent state. Start by killing off a minority. That’ll rally the world to your cause.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

“Indian Govt has to long way to go to win the hearts of kashmiri people”Other way round would be lamp of light. What have Kashmiris given to India? Kashmiris are burden on economy of India because of their thought process and blindness to history of India.

Posted by Rohit | Report as abusive

@ Rohit: Hell with India. India is not at all welcome in Kashmir. India is an occupier and will always be welcome. pandits are a part of kashmir and are welcome only when they stop being playing into Indian hands

Posted by kadri | Report as abusive

Its something thats an issue for a long now….. Everytime some new demands are cropping after fulfilling old ones…. Lets see what the new demand are this time

Posted by Saqib | Report as abusive

Its the time to see how various pandit organisations react to this….. apart from highlighting only the government move…. please tell about the reactions of various organisation associated to the movement

Posted by samir | Report as abusive

As on today,overall view is,Kashmir is backing to peaceful coexistence with all her minorities. Let us hope the situation ruturns to complete normal. And hope that this claims doesnt stand only on papers but exists in reality too

Posted by zeest | Report as abusive

Nobody wants to stay in taboos. at the end of the day everyone wants to return back home. it has a long dark nigt befor the government has realised that someone is living a displaced life. its good. i hope some more packages to come up to help the deserving people

Posted by stanz | Report as abusive

@ Rohit- dear there is a difference in ruling the people and conquering their hearts n minds…India has only pumped money into the kashmir’s crippling economy,wot abt the people tht the Indian army has killed????the children tht hv be orphaned,or the women tht hv been windowed???girls who were raped by the so called protectors of humanity[army men].Human Rights violation tht hv taken places time and again?

Posted by dia | Report as abusive

@ Equal measure, we, Indians also say to hell with Kashmiris of the likes of Kadris. Kashmir is part of India.

Posted by Rohit | Report as abusive

We whole heartedly welcome the return of pundits but what about those muslims who have left the valley and no body is talking about them. This is biased attitude of the government of Inda and state government.

Posted by adil | Report as abusive

@Keith, your are miss informed only 216 pandits were killed but Indian security forces haev killed 100,000 kashmiri muslims so far. read carefully the history, when subcontinenet turned red with blood due to religous roits, Kashmir stayed cool… raed Gandhi Ji…..he saw a hope for secularism only in Kashmir.

Posted by shumail | Report as abusive

@ Rohit…Kashmir has given India too much in past 60 years. It has taught India secularism, it has tought India not to parade its lower cate girls naked in public, it has tught india that we can still live with u even if u only trust handfuol of pandits, and we have an ey on blind history of India. Histrory is witnessed….India anexed Kashmir and is rulng through gun in kashmir. They have killed tens of thousand muslims….i ask you wt India has given to Kashmir?

Posted by arjimand | Report as abusive

ArjimandLet’s first count measurable things in monetary terms. Then we can debate unmeasurable things. The ranting that you are doing is the first thing India has given to you. Talk about what Kashmiris do beyond producing exploding human bombs?

Posted by Rohit | Report as abusive

October 2nd, 20092:42 pm GMT“Indian Govt has to long way to go to win the hearts of kashmiri people”Other way round would be lamp of light. What have Kashmiris given to India? Kashmiris are burden on economy of India because of their thought process and blindness to history of India.- Posted by Rohit@ Rohit. Why is India So interested to Keep going with Kashmir if it is a burden? Think and answer

Posted by samir | Report as abusive

Kashmiris are burden on economy of India because of their thought process and blindness to history of India.- Posted by RohitEven the booker prize winner Arundhati Roy Quoted ” India needs freedom from Kashmir as much as Kashmir Needs it from India”. Why was there a debate… Why didnt India Consider her comments instead said its unacceptable

Posted by saqib | Report as abusive

Kashmir has never been a burden on India economy. May be the the ppl should change this prespective now,the ilitrate ppl whio comment like this r the burben on society and if u check the statics above 209 hindus has been killed in 29 years of Voilation were as 47000 Muslims has been killed the ppl who migrated from kashmir the number ius 250000 almost who we escorted to jammu it was never India Govt who took care of then they still dont have homes…And before u guys can point a fingure on Kashmiris u should chk wht has happened in Gujrat, Hydrabad if u cant stop that how can u expect us to be generous….

Posted by outlaws.khan | Report as abusive

The last comment went half over my head – I did not understand what the author was trying to express. And there is nothing happening in Hyderabad? What is happening? More Hindus get killed in the violence here than the muslims, Hindu’s properties are taken over for road widening but on the same road the muslim guy’s property is not touched – why cause he is minority and needs to be treated with kid gloves. Because they are minority, they cannot be treated equally as others in the same nation – they need special privileges.

In Hyderabad, if you bang into a muslim guy’s vehicle by mistake, hope you are a muslim too, otherwise pray for your safety.

Posted by kusum79 | Report as abusive

History of Kashmir is testimony of the fact to cruelty of islamic occupation. Who are the aggressors here? Muslims forcefully converted and occupied Hindu homeland. What happened in Kashmir is the true face of islam who believes in conversion by force. Through out India , muslims are pampered , but still they keep complaining. How different is islamic occupation from the occupation of palestinian lands by Israel. Why do you have different rules in Hindu homeland ? Kashmir is an integral part of India and will remain so till eternity.

Posted by Abhishekaa | Report as abusive