Omar Abdullah blames Muslims for Pandits' exodus
May 15, 2008 - Rediff.com
National Conference President Omar Abdullah has accused Muslims of being mute spectators at the time of exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in the 1990s.
"It's so easy to say that we will lay down our lives to bring Kashmiri Pandits back to the Valley and I appreciate the sentiment as I am sure the Kashmiri Pandits reading it will. Pity that sentiment was missing when our mosques were being used to drive these people out," Omar said in his blog on the official website of his party.
"None of us was willing to stand up and be counted when it mattered. None of us grabbed the mikes (microphones) in the mosques and said 'this is wrong and the Kashmiri Pandits had every right to continue living in the valley'," he said.
"Our educated, well-to-do relatives and neighbours were spewing venom 24-hours a day and we were mute spectators either mute in agreement or mute in abject fear but mute nonetheless.
"And talking about mosques -- what a great symbol of mass uprising they proved to be. While I can't claim to have lived through it I have enough friends who did and they tell me about the early 90's where attendance was taken in mosques to force people to pray," Omar wrote.
Questioning the spontaneity of processions taken out in 1990, Omar said people were forced out of their homes to participate in "mass uprisings" against "Indian occupation" and the same enforcement committees went from door to door.
However, Omar said "While I don't deny that people rose in anger in the early 1990s, there are two sides to every story and we need to look at both or we risk losing our objectivity.
"Shop signs were painted green and white in Islamic colours and people were forced to set their watches to Pakistan Standard Time. As if these two things would make the dream of independence any easier to achieve -- amazing how quickly people rediscovered the old colours when they could make a choice again," he said.
Coming to events of the past 17 years, Omar said "The Indian security forces are guilty of some of the most horrible excesses is a given and I don't dispute that. I don't condone what was done and am a firm believer that the truth must emerge and the guilty must be punished. This must be done in a transparent manner.
"I don't recall crackdowns and searches before 1990, as I don't recall arrogant convoy commanders on our roads before that either. I recall wives of Indian Army officers teaching me in school," he wrote.