Days of Parting: An Excerpt from "A Long Dream of Home: The persecution, exodus and exile of Kashmiri Pandits"

29 November 2015

The victory of Farooq Abdullah in the 1987 elections marked a turning point for Kashmir. Several parties decried the results, and campaigned for the self-determination of the Kashmiri people. The government of Pakistan gave its moral and diplomatic support to the movement, calling for the issue to be resolved via a UN-sponsored referendum. However, the government of India maintained that Pakistan's support of the insurgency constituted "cross-border terrorism." During the 1990s, several new militant groups emerged, most of which held radical Islamic views.

In his introduction to A Long Dream of Home, editor and author Siddhartha Gigoo refers to Kashmiri Pandits as a forgotten entity in the current political scenario. Forced to evacuate the state in 1990 by Hizb-ul Mujahideen, a militant outfit, over half a million Pandits found themselves displaced in Jammu and other parts of India. This year marks 25 years since their exile. In this time, Kashmir became one of the most militarised zones in the world. 

Divided into four parts, this book is a collection of memoirs of those who were born and brought up in Kashmir, those that were displaced in their youth, those born in migrant camps and finally, those that dream of returning. The story by Jammu-based Arvind Gigoo, writer and former professor of English at various government colleges in the state, titled Days of Parting, recounts the societal and political changes in Srinagar before and leading up to the outbreak of violence.