14 years after the 2003 Nadimarg massacre Kashmiri Pandits mourn 24 fallen brethren; still seek justice

Arkadev Ghoshal
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It has been 14 years since the intervening night of March 23 and 24 in 2003, when 24 Kashmiri Pandits were killed in a massacre whose real culprits apparently still elude justice. 

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It has been said that Kashmiri Pandits were given little choice other than flee or perish in 1990, which marked the rise of "Islamic insurgency" in Jammu and Kashmir. Many were uprooted from their homes and chose to move to other parts of the country. 

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Those that remained were under constant threat of attack. It was one such attack in Nadimarg in the Pulwama district that sent shivers down their spines.

Eyewitnesses at the time said around 10 men, dressed in Indian Army uniforms, gunned down 11 men, 11 women and two children from the only four Hindu families that remained in the village. 

The finger of suspicion swung towards terrorists supported by Pakistan, but none of the eyewitnesses could definitively identify them.

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The jury is still out on whether all 10 accused in the case have been brought to justice, and campaigns continue for this to happen. 

Still hurting

The wounds of those massacres seem to be fresh in the minds of Kashmiri Pandits. Aditya Raj Kaul, a senior broadcast journalist born in Kashmir, told International Business Times, India: "Kashmiri Pandits have had to live in exile for close to three decades now. There has been no sense of closure to the memories of the ethnic cleansing because of absolutely no justice till date. "

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He added: "The killers and terrorists involved in the brutal massacres of Pandits roam free in Kashmir and remain a nuisance for the local population which wants to live in peace. The media and the so called liberal intellectuals in India are also equally guilty for ignoring the Pandit narrative deliberately to suit their agenda and vested design."

Chances of reconciliation?

Sushil Pandit — a Kashmiri Pandit and an activist with the organisation Roots In Kashmir — told IBTimes India: "The Nadimarg massacre happened 13 years after the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, which happened in 1990. And around six months ago, 2,000 Kashmiri youths working in camps set up under the Prime Minister's employment package were threatened into leaving the state. No inference is needed to understand the reason there."

However, he also enumerated three steps with which the repatriation process of Kashmiri Pandits could begin. "First, the government must recognise that what happened in 1990 was a genocide, where a religious identity was cleansed," said Pandit, explaining how India had claimed on the world stage that the human rights of Hindu minorities were being violated, but a petition by Hindus to that end to the National Human Rights Watch was not entertained. 

"Second," he said, "There must be justice for those who were massacred and those families that were forced to leave Kashmir. And finally, conditions must be created that there is no repitition of what happened."

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