Muslim Militants Ban Return Of Kashmiri Hindus
22 July 2005
Srinagar: Separatist militants fighting Indian rule in the country's only Muslim-majority state said on Friday they would not allow minority Hindus who fled the the region after the revolt broke out 16 years ago to return. Kashmir's moderate separatist leaders and officials said this month they were making plans to help thousands of Kashmiri Hindus - known as 'pandits' - to return due to a peace process between India and Pakistan, which have fought two wars over the region. 'They (Hindus) deserted the majority community during the time of crisis and indulged in anti-movement activities,' said a joint statement by al Nasireen, al Arifeen, Save Kashmir Movement and Farzandan-e-Milat. 'They will not be allowed to return unless they apologise and offer penance for their acts,' said the statement faxed to media organisations said. The four groups have claimed a series of attacks across the region over the past few years. Authorities say more than 200,000 pandits fled Kashmir in 1989 due to a rise in the killings of Hindus and attacks on their homes by Muslim militants at the start of the rebellion. More than 45,000 people have been killed in Jammu and Kashmir, mainly Hindu India's only Muslim-majority state, in the revolt which India says Pakistan abets. Islamabad denies the charge. Though Kashmir's main separatist alliance, the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference and authorities have repeatedly urged Hindus to return, but they have been deterred by militant attacks. One of the biggest attacks was in 2003 when militants shot dead 24 pandits, including 11 women and two children, in south Kashmir, provoking outrage across India.