It bruised her forehead that soon started to bleed profusely. My mother, with teary eyes and rage clear in her voice, recounted all those deadly incidents which her 16-year- old self had seen. Over and over again. (Her grand mother was hit by a stone that someone threw on the bus they were travelling in.)
20th December 1989 is ghastly night that they call a nightmare.The unfortunate date forced her family to leave their home. Her family decided to leave the valley of Kashmir, forever, after receiving some serious threats from the terrorist group. Her uncle was an officer in the intelligence bureau who was at a greater risk of being killed, anywhere and at anytime. That day, people witnessed the murders of renowned residents and staying any longer could have costed the lives of all the families. Mum described how the terrorists would publicly call out names of the targeted Kashmiri Pandits, and would kill them on the spot. Howls of “Paksitan zindabaad” were quite common. Pools of blood and dead bodies were found lying on the streets every other day. Due to these gruesome happenings, her uncle returned home suddenly from office, one day. Wiping off the sweat from his forehead, which was rare in the freezing cold December of the valley, he only muttered, "Pack your bags. We need to rush as soon as possible, they have made our family the next target…”
“But where and how shall we go?”- asked my mum’s dad.
“Arranged a bus. Where shall we go, will be discussed later, we have to reach Jammu city anyhow and then decide further.” This was the only way mum’s grandfather could think of.
Within an hour, a seemingly perfect morning turned into the worst nightmare. They all got into the bus and with whatever they could carry. Family had small children, old members, but the law and order situation kept getting worse and death threats from the terrorists forced them to take this step. Within few hours they reached Kazigund where their bus encountered with the terrorists. They started firing gun shots, pelted stones, broke all the glasses of the bus. Cries, prayers, anger, fear, death — everything seemed to have come to an end. The bus driver didn’t stop despite getting injured in the open fire. He raced the bus into the pitch dark night until it reached a nearby CRPF camp, which provided them with medical aid and security.
A morning of mourning, an unknown city with no place to go, they decided to rent rooms until they could find some permanent solution. Family consisting of about 20 members was then forced to live within few rooms. Those who once lived with all the luxuries, one of the most affluent families of the town, now had no money, no proper place to live. It was later heard that those Hindus who didn’t leave Kashmir were tortured in the worst possible ways. The women and kids had their clothes snatched away, and were burnt by cigarettes, their teeth pulled out, tortured by electric shocks and what not.
There was an acute shortage of money. Everyone suddenly became jobless, which resulted in lesser food and poverty. But what my mum proudly commented was that ”Strong will and dedication is the key to meet success“ and that’s what her family did. In fact, that’s what every Kashmiri migrated Hindu has done. It took 15 years to re-establish the lives to get back on track. All started working in Jammu and living there . No one ever went back to Kashmir. From riches to rags and back to riches, there were many obstacles but maybe the zeal to fight back helped. Maybe that’s what hurts the most, despite so many years, the longing to go back where you lived, played,grew, where your family lived still remains anew in every heart of true Kashmiri.