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Kashmiri Hindu Exodus : Jagmohan, a historical villain or a silent saviour?

  • Anhad Jakhmola | Team PresentMirror | Updated: Jan. 22, 2021, 4:26 p.m.

Jagmohan Malhotra, known by the mononym Jagmohan, is a former Indian civil servant and politician belonging to the Bharatiya Janata Party, formerly a congressman. It is however his role in Jammu and Kashmir and his stint as a Governor there on two terms that needs to be known. His actions have long been considered controversial, stabbed by Gandhis, as he witnessed a unilateral massacre of Kashmiri Hindus in the valley.


Born 25 September 1927 to a Punjabi Hindu Khatri family in Hafizabad (now in Pakistan), he served as the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi and Goa, as well as the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir. Jagmohan was no stranger to political backing. During the emergency, he was close to Sanjay Gandhi and the vice-chairman of the Delhi Development Authority in the mid-1970s. He was entrusted to "beautify" Delhi and is also considered responsible for the large-scale demolition of slums in Delhi. Hence, in the eyes of people, Jagmohan had already gained enough noteworthy attention as someone who was more direct and firm in handling events.

His time in Kashmir starts from April 1984 to July 1989. Considered relatively stable or peaceful, Jagmohan's letter to Rajiv Gandhi revealed that he had considered the years before the events that led to the massacre of Kashmiri pandits to be a lul of a huge storm, approaching with Pakistan and the political figures in the valley supporting it. Jagmohan's claim was that the Congress and loyalists of Rajiv Gandhi ignored and thus when he received the state on 19th January, 1990, there was bloodshed and widespread targeting of the Kashmiri Hindus, in the valley.


Image File : The naara was Raliv, Galiv ya Chaliv, credit :a Kashmiri Pandit activist

It was a do or die situation for them. Jagmohan, as events unfolded, took the situation head on, gave a freehand to the forces and tried to inspire confidence in a demoralised civil administration of the valley. His actions have long been considered controversial by the Muslims in general because of the "Extra- legal " nature of it. Infact, Farooq Abdullah and Benazir Bhutto were at the forefront, spewing venom against him.

Bhutto said the following, "Bhagmohan" (implying he would flee out of fear) and "Ham us ko jag jag mo mo han han bana denge" (implying he would be cut/torn to pieces by militants)." While Farooq Abdullah said, " I directed my partymen to lie low, go across the border, get training in arms handling; do anything but not get caught by Jagmohan. "


Image File : Governor Jagmohan Malhotra, Jammu and Kashmir

Needless to say, Kashmir was on a boil and these two were frustrated for not able to control it under their wings because of Jagmohan. Jagmohan, widely is considered to be one major factor that saved the lives of Kashmiri Hindus and pandits from the valley. He is also credited for bringing order to one of the most revered shrines of Hindus, Mata Vaishno Devi. He created a board that continues to provide administration for the shrine. Infrastructure was developed and that continues to facilitate pilgrims.

After constant vilification, he resigned in May 1990 and left the Congress to join the Bhartiya Janta Party. His letter to Rajiv Gandhi, his books on Kashmir are considered personal and factual accounts of what happened in the valley.

An excerpt from that letter, "I leave it to the well-wishers of the nation to consider, without any political or personal bias, a basic question. How was it that Dr. Farooq was calling me Hallaqu and Changez Khan, and you were travelling all the way to Srinagar to 'expose' me as anti- Article 370 , anti-Kashmiri and anti-Muslim and, at the same time, Miss Benazir Bhutto was vowing to tear me to pieces - 'Jagmohan ko Bhag-Bhag Mohan Kar Denge'?”

The politics and the compromised history tries to vilify Governor Jagmohan in all accounts, but a look at realism shows that he was nothing lesser than a saviour for grieving Kashmiri Hindus at that time. As the anniversary of the massacre passes away, lets light a diya in the memory of Kashmiri Pandits, who are yet to get justice.

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