I apologise for failing Kashmiri Pandits in 1990: NC’s Aga Ruhullah Mehdi

It was a tumultuous time and that drove the Kashmiri Pandits away from Kashmir, “not us”, he says

April 29, 2024 11:10 pm | Updated 11:10 pm IST - SRINAGAR

National Conference leader Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi addresses an election rally in Srinagar, on April 25, 2024.

National Conference leader Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi addresses an election rally in Srinagar, on April 25, 2024. | Photo Credit: NISSAR AHMAD

National Conference (NC) candidate Aga Ruhullah Mehdi, contesting from the Srinagar-Budgam seat, on April 29 apologised to Kashmir Pandits for the party’s failure to stop their migration in the wake of growing militancy in the 1990s.

“It was the grim and beyond-control situation that drove Kashmiri Pandits away from Kashmir and not us. Those were very tumultuous times. The guns that murdered you, murdered us too. We were as helpless as you were. Still, I think we (NC) could not find a way to save and stop the migration of Pandits. I apologise for that,” Mr. Mehdi, whose father was also killed in a militant attack in 2000, said.

Also read | J&K’s Anantnag seat slips into political drama ahead of polls

He said the people of Kashmir saw themselves as “incomplete without its minorities”. “I do not describe Pandits as minorities for they are Kashmiris, who have equal rights over this place and culture. They equally own this place,” Mr. Mehdi, a popular Shia cleric, said.

The NC leader said his party wanted to see “a dignified return of Kashmiri Pandits to the place of origins”. “We want engagement with Pandits and work out a roadmap for their dignified return to their birth places. We want to work with them and trade with them,” he said.

Mr. Mehdi accused the BJP of misusing the issue of Pandits. “How many Pandits were brought back to Kashmir by the BJP to their birth places? Instead, Bollywood films were made, which villainised Muslim Kashmiris and projected them as brutal people. It has vitiated the atmosphere,” he added.

Meanwhile, a joint meeting of the NC and Congress was convened at Pandit colonies in Jammu. Bushan Lal Bhat, a former legislator, and Shadi Lal Pandita, convener of the Congress Migrant Cell, presided over these meetings, in a bid to reach out to Pandits who, of late, had started voting for the BJP. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, 86% of Pandits voted for the BJP in the Kashmir valley.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.