‘More Muslims left Valley than Pandits; The Kashmir Files is a propaganda movie’: R&AW chief AS Dulat

Speaking to The Telegraph, former Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) chief AS Dulat highlighted that returning to Srinagar in 1990 after an interval of four-to-five months came as a rude shock for Kashmir’s governor Jagmohan.

Mr Dulat, who’s considered one of the foremost experts on J&K and insurgency stated that while he was governor till August 1989, the environment had altered beyond recognition by the time he returned the following January. “The Kashmir that he came back to after four or five months, it was totally different from the Kashmir he had left. He was quite shaken himself,” he stated.

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Speaking on Vivek Agnihotri’s The Kashmir Files, Dulat said the movie had evoked polarising recollections of those times. He stated that he has not watched the movie and had no plans to do so. “I don’t see propaganda. And it is a propaganda movie,” he said.

Mr Dulat told The Telegraph that when the V. P. Singh government came to power at the centre, Jagmohan had been reappointed as governor. In an unprecedented development that shook the country, in December 1989, Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s daughter Rubaiya Sayeed had been kidnapped and in exchange for her release, five JKLF terrorists had been freed.

He said that Kashmir was a relatively peaceful place till the Rubiya Sayeed kidnapping. “Everything changed overnight. Till then, we used to move out freely in the city. I also travelled all over the state. But after the five people were released, everything went out of control and there was a lot of bloodshed. I was there when it all began. It was pretty nasty times, you know, that winter of 1989-90,” he said.

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“When these killings started, he didn’t want the pandits to bear the brunt of it. So once they started leaving, he was quite happy,” Dulat stated implying that when the Kashmiri pandit migration from Kashmir began, Jagmohan was relieved.

“It was a natural reaction. If they are leaving, ‘Good.’ There was no way that we could provide any protection to them because things were so bad,” he further added.

Stressing how the kidnapping changed Kashmir overnight which used to be peaceful before that, the former intelligence officer said: “Everything changed overnight. Till then, we used to move out freely in the city. I also travelled all over the state. But after the five people were released, everything went out of control and there was a lot of bloodshed.”

“I was there when it all began. It was pretty nasty times, you know, that winter of 1989-90,” Mr Dulat recalled.

“There’s no doubt about it that pandits were targeted. Like a lot of other people were targeted. And Muslims were targeted, very much so,” Mr Dulat is quoted as saying.

According to Dulat, the pandit migration began immediately after the killings in 1990. The more affluent members of the community proceeded to Delhi, while those who had nowhere else to go resorted to camps established up in Jammu.

Dulat mentioned that Kashmiri Muslims who could afford it also departed for places like Delhi. They returned when the situation appeared to be improving. Many more Muslims than pandits left – a large number. A lot were killed, he added.

“Many Pandits who chose to stay behind were protected by Muslims in 1990s. Many Kashmiri Pandit families did stay back. Even after the abrogation of Article 370, the Pandits have not been targeted,” Dulat said.

When asked about Kashmiri Pandits return to Kashmir valley, he said that he feels that if they go back, their neighbours and friends would try to protect them.

“But building separate colonies for them (KPs) would be entirely the wrong way to go about it. If you built a separate colony for them, they would be targeted,” Dulat said.

The former chief of premier intelligence agency, however, deplored the fact that very little was done for the pandits. And very few have felt safe enough to return to Kashmir. “Government after government has paid lip service to the idea of bringing the pandits back but it has not happened.”

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