WE REMEMBER: 19.01.1990
Kashmiri Hindus Forced Exodus Day Commemoration
Kashmiri Hindus Forced Exodus Day Commemoration
Hundreds of people in London came together to commemorate the Kashmiri Hindus Forced Exodus Day (19.01.1990).
On Sunday, 18th January, people from all over London and around joined the Peace Walk organised by Kashmiri Pandits Cultural Society, UK in large numbers including several Kashmiri Hindu families, most of who have been direct victims of the forced exodus in the harsh winter of 1989-90. It was an emotionally charged atmosphere that brought back the haunting memories of their pain. To offer support and solidarity to their brothers and sisters, a number of other Hindu community members joined in and extended their support.
Before commencing the walk, Madhava Turumella, Hindu Scholar and Vice President Hindu Forum of Britain chanted prayers for peace. Offering prayers he said it is sad that, "Kashmiri Hindu Pundits are living like refugees in their own country. Perhaps this kind of misery only Yazidis in Iraq are facing. This situation is not acceptable. I urge the Government of India to take all necessary steps to restore the dignity and the homes of Kashmiri Pandits."
Walking and singing together “We Shall Overcome”, several people came together to pray for peace and solemnly remember the 19.01.1990.
“For the first time after years, I witnessed passion, enthusiasm and hope,” said Neetu Jalali, Kashmiri Hindu victim of 1990 exodus, resident of London.
Dr. Ashish Tyagi who came from Colchester to participate in the walk said, “it has been 25 long years in search of justice - felt good joining and walking for a good cause.”
Speaking to the people attending the Peace Walk, Manoj Ladwa, India Inc. reminded everyone that the world ought to acknowledge the gruesome genocide of the Kashmiri Hindus and anno
unced a slogan: "Je Suis Kashmiri Hindus" to make the world put the genocide in perspective.
Commending the community for its courage and resilience Simon Nayyar, (Conservative party Parliamentary candidate, Feltham constituency) said, “Today as we stand here, hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, in sympathy, solidarity and support for humanity. I congratulate you for what you have overcome and what you have since achieved. I salute you for your community's contribution here in Britain and elsewhere. We share pride in your achievements and in your undimming strength, courage and resolve. I am proud to stand here today and join you in your calls for a just, peaceful and a lasting solution which puts the past firmly in the past and enables all of us to look forward with confidence to a brighter, securer and happier future. Our best wishes, support and prayers are with you.”
A Memorial Event was organised the next day at the House of Commons, supported by the All Party Parliamentary Group of British Hindus, co-sponsored by Bob Blackman MP (Harrow East) and Virendra Sharma MP (Southall & Ealing), to offer tribute to the martyrs of the forced exodus.
The KPCS, UK have compiled a book of first person accounts of victims of the exodus, living in England called “We Remember: 19.01.1990”. This was released by Bob Blackman MP (Harrow East) and Barry Gardiner MP (Brent North).
“It has been 25 years, and yet the camps into which Kashmiri Pandits were forced remain. There have been no reparations made for the brutal ethnic cleansing that was perpetrated. It hasn't been easy for community members here in the UK to openly speak of the atrocities they personally experienced and the hardship they continue to endure as a result, so it is very important that Hindus have a voice. We must not forget what happened and that their suffering continues to this day,” said Bob Blackman MP listening intently to the first person accounts of the victims of the exodus.
A special screening of a poignant film, “Abandoned Cranes” was held. The film is made by a young Indian law student & film maker, Siddhartha Acharya (23 years old) who captured the factual sequences of events during the exodus –an attempt to document facts of the Kashmiri Hindus’ displacement. The film features interviews of the likes of Mark Tully, Francois Gautier, Jagmohan, some millitants and key Kashmiri Hindu and other activists.
At the Memorial Event, Ahmed Burjus, a member of the Yezdi community, spoke about the plight of the Yezdis and their ethnic extermination. Representatives of Bangladeshi Hindu community shared their stories too and the hapless, helpless state they are currently in. Both, starkingly similar to that of the Kashmiri Hindus plight. Adding to the discussion, Manu Khajuria (Ms) represented the Dogras, another Hindu community in the state of Jammu & Kashmir.
A solemn reflection and sharing of personal experiences provided for the first time a formal platform, for the recognition of ethnic extermination of minority Hindus around the world. “It is very important for the international community to recognise and accept that the genocide of the Kashmiri Hindus is infact a matter of global concern – it ought to be acknowledged and justice sought and delivered accordingly,” says Lakshmi Kaul, Founder and Executive Member, Kashmiri Pandits Cultural Society UK.
Messages of solidarity and support were sent in to the Kashmiri Hindu community from prominent members of the ethnic Indian community.
“The Kashmiri Pandit community, though small in numbers is renowned across the world for its peaceful and loving nature. They continue to represent hope for other minority communities who have faced similar hardships. I too have been a victim of exile, having been exiled from Uganda in 1972 by the brutal dictator Idi Amin. If there is one thing that I have learnt from my experience, then that is to stand up and speak out against persecution of any kind,” said Lord Dolar Popat, Government Whip, Lord-in-Waiting and Spokesman for Business, Innovation and Skills and Transport.
Trupti Patel, President of Hindu Forum of Britain said, “HFB stands hand in hand with our Kashmiri Hindu brothers and sisters. We must not forget thousands of Hindus who lost their life and also those who suffered horrific atrocities during the ethnic cleansing of Kashmir.”
Founder & Executive Member, Kashmiri Pandits Cultural Society