Ahead of Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Shikara, here's all you need to know about the Kashmiri Pandit exodus

FP Staff

Feb 06, 2020 14:25:09 IST

Vidhu Vinod Chopra's upcoming directorial Shikara, releasing this week, is being described as "a love letter from Kashmir." The film marks Chopra's return to his hometown Srinagar, post-Hrithik Roshan and Preity Zinta-starrer Mission Kashmir (2000). 

The trailer showcases instances of violence and unrest a young Kashmir Pandit couple, played by newcomers Sadia and Aadil Khan, experienced in the '90s.

 Ahead of Vidhu Vinod Chopras Shikara, heres all you need to know about the Kashmiri Pandit exodus

A still from Shikara. Image from YouTube

Ahead of the release, here are some crucial facts on the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the troubled state of Jammu & Kashmir.

Initially, the Kashmiri Pandits (a Hindu sect residing in the J&K valley) had been a favoured faction during the Dogra rule, which lasted from 1846-1947, state reports. However, almost 20 percent of the them had abandoned the state after the 1950 land reforms, and by the end of 1981, there were only five percent of them left.

The major exodus of the Pandits took place in the 1990s, owing to the unprecedented and malignant rise of militancy, which was a result of widespread persecution and threats by radical Islamists and militants. As per reports, on 19 January, 1990, the mosques in the state released official declarations that Kashmiri Pandits were "kafirs" (which roughly translates to infidels). The declaration stated the male Pandits had to leave either Kashmir, convert to Islam, or be killed. The ones who chose to leave were then asked to keep their wives behind.

The Kashmiri Muslims were given orders to systematically identify Hindu households and convert the residents or kill them.

The numbers leaving the state have been varied, with multiple authors giving different figures. The nature of the exodus also remains in murky waters with the involvement of then-Governor Jagmohan in arranging a clandestine exodus.

At the time, several states came up in support of the refugee Pandits. As per reports, Bal Thackeray (the then-political leader in Maharashtra), got seats reserved in engineering colleges for the children belonging to these families.

In fact, the Oregon Legislative Assembly passed a resolution to recognise 14 September, 2007 as Martyrs Day in 2009 to acknowledge the mass ethnic cleansing of the non-Muslims in the state.

The exiled community still strives to get back to the state but there have been little reported official development on the same, mostly owing to the unrest still plaguing Jammu and Kashmir.

Shikara is slated to hit cinemas this Friday on 7 February.

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Updated Date: Feb 06, 2020 14:25:09 IST