January 19 marked 30 years of the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits after terrorists initiated a genocidal campaign in the valley. Bollywood actor Anupam Kher, who is a Kashmiri Pandit himself, recalled the atrocities faced by Kashmiris on the 'Black Day', in 1990.
Addressing an event in New Jersey, Anupam Kher said every Kashmiri Pandit residing in different parts of the world is trying to forget the 'Black day' that came upon a land that was once called 'heaven'.
Anupam recollected the events that gradually led to the day of the holocaust in the valley which every Kashmiri Pandit remembers "as the worst nightmare".
"The Kashmiri Pandits who invited outsiders to live on their land, and gave them respect, shared teachings, and treated others like family, were slowly and systematically, wiped out from their land, leaving only 10 to 15 per cent of them, while the outsiders multiplied to 85 per cent in Kashmir," Kher said.
The actor recalled how the Kashmiris were reportedly threatened, thrashed and raped in the State, forcing them to flee from their homelands.
"And then came the day, when every mosque echoed one voice, giving three options to the Kashmiri Pandits: Either flea from Kashmir, die or adopt our religion," Anupam Kher said.
"Imagine you are at home, sitting with you family, while there are thousands of men, armed with guns, knocking at your door, threatening to murder you and your family. That is what happened on this day in 1990," he added.
On January 19, 1990, lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits were forced to leave their homes in the Valley or convert to Islam, under threat of being killed by terrorists. Having been scattered to different parts of the country and world since then, the community has now expressed hope of returning to the place where their roots lie.
To mark the 30th year of their mass exodus, several Kashmiri Pandits on Sunday staged a protest in Jammu, Ahmedabad and also Washington DC. They held placards which read -- 'Holocaust Day - 19.01.1990', and 'Kashmiri Pandits, Victims of Religious Cleansing Facing Apartheid.'
The protestors demanded justice for the victims and severe punishment for those responsible for the exodus, promising that they will return to their homeland one day.
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