Kashmir’s Exiled Bhattyein

Murdered, raped, forced into exile. The forgotten Kashmiri Pandit women have suffered the loss of home and homeland.


Kashmiri Pandit women are commonly known as ‘Bhattyein’. The word is a distortion of Sanskrit word “Bhattini” which means lady belonging to a noble family.

Photo Courtesy: Vijay Koul

The over two-decade old Kashmir conflict has adversely affected the people of valley; be it men, women or children. Kashmiri women have faced the brunt of conflict since the beginning.

While the Kashmiri women living in the valley are considered a part of debate/discussions regarding the impact of Kashmir conflict, there are women living on the other side of the tunnel who are ignored. Having witnessed the killing of their community members and then subjected to forced displacement from the Kashmir valley, the psyche of exiled ‘Bhattyein’ have got affected. Such a generation of women have seen the turmoil/insurgency in the valley and have been at the receiving end of terrorism.

During the rise of insurgency in Kashmir valley, the Pandit women were raped, brutalized and killed. In 1990, a nurse named Sarla Bhat, resident of Anantnag, working in Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (Soura) was gang-raped and then murdered by Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) militants. In the same year, a woman named Girja Tickoo, resident of Bandipora, was gang-raped and then chopped into pieces on mechanical saw by the terrorists. Many such acts of savagery were committed by the terrorists in 1990s against Kashmiri Pandits including ‘Bhattyein’. Moreover, there was an infamous slogan in Kashmir chanted by many during the peak of insurgency which revealed their intention – “Asi Gachchi Pakistan, Bhattav Roas Te Bhattyenav Saan” (We want Pakistan along with Hindu women but without their men).

After the displacement of lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir, the Pandit women have suffered from several health diseases like diabetes, thyroid gland malfunctioning etc. which were unheard of when they used to live in the valley. There is rise in stress-related disorders like depression, hypertension etc. among the Pandit women. Dr. KL Chowdhury, renowned Kashmiri physician, did a survey on the exiled Pandit women in the past and found that there was drop in population of Kashmiri Pandits. “Many Pandit women developed premature menopause even at the age of 35 years which reduced the ability to conceive at an early stage of life. Living in inhumane refugee camps after the displacement, the sexual desire itself diminished as three generations of a family lived in a single make-shift tent. This caused a decline in birth rate which resulted in fall in population of the Pandits.”

The “Bhattyein” have encountered hardships on a day-to-day basis. They lost their lifestyle and environment while living in exile. The very idea of a woman’s dignity was hurt. Rahul Bagati was a young boy when he had to leave his native place Kupwara due to turmoil. He remembers the difficult days in exile. “When our family was forced to migrate to Jammu, we started staying at a rented place. During this time, my younger sister was born. However, we developed some serious differences with the landlord due to his conduct and decided to move to our under-construction house which did not have any flooring. As funds were scarce, a make-shift bed made of bricks meant for construction and wood for doors was created for my mother. For rest of us, one of the two sarees my grandmother had brought with her was used as flooring to sleep.”

In exile, Kashmiri Pandit refugees have died due to change in environmental conditions. They were forced to live in hostile conditions in make-shift camps. Think of the “Bhattyein”, especially the older ones who had to live in 45°C in Jammu, who don’t know what a scorching summer is like (as average temperature of Kashmir in summer is around 30°C). The habitat change resulted in heat-strokes, anaemia, malaria etc. which caused many deaths.

Photo Courtesy: Aditya Raj Kaul

“My maternal grandmother was like a mother to all in the village Irkumoo (which is in Kokernag area of Anantnag district) irrespective of them being Hindus or Muslims. However, as soon as Islamic fanaticism rose in valley in 1990, the Muslim neighbours who were like her children drove her out of Kashmir. The mother in her could not bear the pain of her children and grand-children living in refugee camps in Jammu. She could not bear the heat of the summer in Jammu and passed away. We called it heat-stroke. But it wasn’t only heat that killed her; it was the death of a mother who was driven away from her own home by people (Muslim neighbours) whom she treated and nurtured like her own children all her life,” says Deepak Kaul who lost his maternal grandmother in exile.

The media as well as human rights organizations have time and again highlighted the plight of Kashmiri women living in the valley, in particular half-widows (women who don’t know whether they are married or widows). But they have forgotten those exiled “Bhattyein” who have also suffered the loss of home and homeland due to the conflict. One can hardly find a report, editorial, story etc. dedicated to them. No women’s organizations have given a thought to such women.

On 19th January, 2013, these “Bhattyein” will enter their 24th year of exile.

Contact Varad Sharma

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  • akshay raina

    proud to be a kashmiri..

  • Raies Mir

    Kashmiri pandits should come Kashmir.They were forced by then GOI’s made governor Jagmohan and agencies to leave their native land. It was great conspiracy a game against Kashmiris freedom struggle. GOIs establishment tried to communalise freedom struggle of Kashmir, right to self determination movement, GOI deployed communal minded forces in Kashmir and massacred Kashmiris with black laws. World community should now compel India to resolve Kashmir dispute in accordance with Kashmiris’ aspirations’ promised in Lal Chowk, its parliament and in UNSC.

    • Raju

      Raies , this jagmohan theory is Juvenile,long back deposited in trash of various municipalities of INDIA ( since world is not concerned ) , no matter how one obfuscate , Kashmir’s azaadi expedition is Islamic and Kashmir centric( not even Jammu, Poonch or Muzafarabad is interested ) so dont involve Kashmiri pandits .. involving them is just lie rubbing salts on their wounds..

      • Dear, be rational and realistic.See Kashmiris are not heartily settling in any part of world.They have love with its native land. In Kashmir if you not forget past all live together in this land of saints. The Kashmiri Pandits who not left Kashmir are happy with their Muslim community. Sikhs even now christian are in Kashmir happy and jointly solving helping each other in social problems. Kashmir is int recognized disputed territory.Kashmiris you know well want freedom which India has promised. One lakh people were ruthlessly killed by Indian armed forces and their agents. Saints of this land was turned into graveyard. Thousands are missing in custody and hundreds in jails, If you not forget as recently several young Kashmiri boys including students and business men who were released after 10/14 years of jails after Indian courts admit their arrest case was false. However they future spoiled dear. Kashmiris want right to self determination. 2008-2010 Kashmiris agitation proved that voice of Kashmiris right and struggling for birth right.

        • Ashish

          There happened to be a single state with Hindus as minority and see what happened to them.See the state of state which has constantly been in turmoil for illusive freedom.What kind of freedom do you want? First of all be free from your prejudices towards everything beautiful created by humans.It`s us who want freedom from paying our hard earned money as taxes so that Kashmir gets all the funds and massive number of security personnel are deployed to prevent fanatics.Don`t you think kashmir has become a burden to carry with? Just be thankful to almighty that it`s India and not Srilanka ,otherwise you wont be giving your highly depraved logics of Jagmohan &conspiracy.Actually you have problem with everything and seems everyone is conspiring against you semi-literates.Please become normal human beings for one single day.

          • jameelsopori

            Dear in Kashmir there is no any such intentions of majority or minority.I remember 23 years back days as in my school, higher secondary school and college professors, lecturers teachers in science, education and civics or political science were also pandits. A great respect was and is in Kashmir. They take care of their neighbours;

            Don’t misguide yourself and please speak truth. Lakhs of men in uniform from Uri-Kupwarai to Udhampur had forcibly occupied Kashmimris agricultural land and turned that in cantonments which Kashmiris not accept. Kashmiris want to decide their political future own self. This is also voice of those kashmiri pandits and sikhs who are living in Kashmir. Conspiracy against right to self determination or freedom had failed.And 2008-10 mass agitation had proved it. Indian civil society and media during their visit in Kashmir saw it that Kashmiris want Azaadi. World community is aware about the current situation of Kashmir.Kashmir is a political and human issue as they have right to decide their political future

          • Vasundhara Tikoo

            Jameel..23 years back our family was in Kashmir..you would obviously see KPs in kashmir,But what happened after that???Did you see any pandit teaching you in schools after 90???Why were we thrown out??
            If muslims call themselves KASHMIRIS,where did their Kashmiriyat go,why did they support paki infiltrators in killing pandits and if they had genuine grievances why was it reflected by killing hindus,why not demanding seperation along with us???
            I agree,Indian Army is responsible for mishaps in Kashmir and I condemn that.But I have a fact to present before you,we still have our land in Sarpora,but locals have allegedly occupied it and made a cricket ground of it and we are unable to claim our own property.
            And please dont generalize the word KAHSMIRI-incorporates us as well..and we have never said that we want Azadi from Kashmir,but we have said is we want Azadi to live in our motherland.

          • Ayushman Zutshi

            You seem a bizzare women. Buck Up.

            “why did they support paki infiltrators in killing pandits”

            get ur facts right. ordinary kashmiri boys killed the pandits in 1990 not paki punjabis or pathans.

            “And please dont generalize the word KAHSMIRI-incorporates us as well..and we have never said that we want Azadi from Kashmir,but we have said is we want Azadi to live in our motherland.”

            Yim musalman cha maaam. kashmir belongs to all parties all communities they can cry hoarse and weep till eternity. But their real nature is clear infront of all.

          • shahji

            Jameel Sopori, true Kashmiri Pandits were mostly teachers, doctors etc and they educated and treated you people. See the occupation forces i.e. muslim rulers had eliminated the other sects of Kashmiri Hindus. Of the four sects viz Brahmin, Kshitry, Vaish and Shudr only a handful of the former i.e. Brahmins could withstand the tyranny of muslim rulers. Rest of others either pershed (were killed) or killed themselves or got forcibly converted and you may be an offshoot of one such Pandit, please don’t mind. Trace ur history and u will know. The left over Brahmins could produce mostly teachers and doctors. This is why we are called as Kashmiri Pandits (KPs) (means Brahmins and no others). The year 1931 saw the first onslaught on KPs. During his first term at the helm after 1947, the Sheik Abdullah introduced land to tillers and deprived KPs of their large chunks of land. Taking the que he did the second act after 1974 and whatever possibl land was snatched from KPs and given to muslims. In 1990 the majority muslims succeeded in grabing the remainings from the KPs who, however, succeeded in salvaging their honour i.e. lady KPs. You should not feel troubled for that. I understand that muslim ladies might have suffered for their honour but I feel difficulty in believing it was Indian Army who were there in Kashmir since 1947 and no such complaint was ever registered against them. It my be your Pakistani brotheren and guests had found sudden love for you after all these years and have come to support and salvage your dignity and honour though you people had always rejected them in the past.

        • How on earth can you claim Kashmir militancy a freedom struggle???And why is this freedom strugle???And what makes you different from other parts of the country,
          To start with your struggle will just be limited to valley..Dont include JAMMU & LADAKH, time and again they have thrown your views to dust bin…..

          One basic question I have here,since few years I have been wondering
          Why islam doesnt co-exist ???
          If its 5% to 10 % they talk about Religious freedom
          If its 10% to 25% they start talking about ISLAM being VICTIM of persecution and oppression, they will talk about personal law…..THERE is GREAT SENSE OF VICTIMHOOD in ISLAM if its in 10% to 25%.
          25% to 50 % its jihad, fighting for islam,discomfort with non-islamic /non-believers
          50% to 75% its sharia law and ISLAMIC REPUBLIC across the region, any voice from non-islamic/non-believers will be considered descent against ISLAM and its state….Anything non-islamic will be decimated,destroyed and desecrated, destroying other religious centers like temples/churches its the way to go.MASS CONVERSION is the way to islamize the whole population, if they dont convert, then RAPE/MURDER/LYNCHING is way to gooo
          75% to 100 % is total boycot of all non-islamic practices in public and some cases private places….No questioning…………..

          I am an Atheist,its scary to think of you guys…..Why should KASHMIR be independent …..The land is part of INDIAN ethos…..REMEMBER you guys are converts, you have accepted the faith, but land belongs to every community of the land irrespective of belief….

          I APPRECIATE the NL TEAM for putting up PANDITS state in KASHMIR and elsewhere in the country………

    • jameelsopori

      Kashmir is paradise of saints and its people living in this saints land will not compromise on its birth right.They will defeat occupation and will defeat all military might policies and communal thoughts. Black laws men in uniform and touting guns had destroyed life of Kashmiris and peace in the region. Graves want justice, fake enounters want justice the pandits who were misguided by the establishment and J mohan are not feeling themselves safe out side Kashmir. Be human being realistic

      • ayshman zutshi

        Tohe Kya Chu Basan, Batttis Chu Sori Pathah sopori saeb. We know how many of these “missing” people have settled in muzzafarabd and areas. My granpa recently went to kashmir to meet his muslim frends and guess what the family was leaving for muzzafarabd to attend the NIKAH of one relative there. No wonder 70,000 kash muzz have been killed.

    • Vasundhara Tikoo

      Raies..Have just 1 question to you..I was just 2 years old when my family had to flee from Kashmir..My Dad’s uncle was a doctor..he was brutally killed..his wife was raped and killed as well..On the contrary,my dad was a very ordinary man..He was a master at a Govt school very much loved by his pupils be it muslim or pandit..But he too was targeted..Now i would be pleased to know from you-do u really think our family left because of Jagmohan???

      • vasundhara tikoo

        Hari..This is exactly what is wrong with the entire humanity..an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind..what has happened to us,I never want the same to be bore by any innocent kashmiri muslim or for that matter any one in the world.Indian Army has committed some gross deeds in valley and there has been no retribution for that-this is something that hurts me equally as any other kashmiri muslim.We can never live in coexistence if we keep carrying prejudices for other religions.My message to all Kashmiri muslims is that the only solution to Kashmir is to bring the lost kashmiriyat back where Hindus and Muslims live in harmony in the vale.Until that is done,I am sure Kashmir is going to head towards no where and for such an unattainable cause countless of Kashmiri muslims are going to lose their lives for nothing.

        • Mushrik

          Their is problem with people like you; that they vomit without considering situation of other person.

          By the way when did that guy asked for an eye for an eye?

          Let me tell you eye for an eye is a Islamic law (however you don’t need to know any thing to vomit your mind).

          Let me give you an resent example, when some Kashmiri women were raped in Kashmir, that they blamed Indian army later on in investigation it was found that the Kashmiri doctors who conducted the autopsy were forced to prepare false report.

          If you can’t be sympathetic at least don’t justify Genocide of Kashmiri Pundits, its like blaming rape victim for she being female.


        • Ayushman Zutshi

          Vasundhara Tickoo you can take your gandhian BS to your grave. Until the common muslim kashmiri does not come to grips with what happened in 1989 90 no progress can happen on pandit muslim divide. My maternal grandfather had lest kashmir way back in 1960’s due to the everday discrimination perpretrated by the muslims. its high time they as a community did some INTROSPECTION

    • Rohit

      I have not seen such brainwashed set of people who will believe anything but the truth. Are you even ashamed of what happened? You are not willing to hear, forget believe, what the Kashmiri Pandits have to say, what is their side of the story. Shame on you. Your claims for Kashmiriyat were dead the very minute people started shouting slogans about ‘kafirs’ being killed in Jihad and forcing Pandits to become human shields to protests, while you shamelessly, without any guilt stood and watch the carnage take place silently.

      • ayushman zutshi

        First “normal” reply. Rohit dont you wonder why these Pandit boys & girls have no sense of loss no sense of pain. Its the undoing of the Pandit community that they have adjusted in these past years. yet the Kafila Azadiwallahs and tehelka and JNU Jhollawalahs have not moved an inch away from what my grandfather now calls “The jagmohan daamb” “the jagmohan canard”

    • Satyam Sharma

      Utter nonsense. At so many levels and in so many ways, I don’t even know where to begin educating you to reality and the factual truth.

    • Akaula

      In Islam there are two technical terms for approved lying. One of these Al-Taqiya and the name of the second I cant recall. The Sadaqat may be acceptable at appropriate moments, but Taquiya is to e used with Kaafir. That is exactly what the Muslims of Kashmir have adopted. The most recent forced exodus (genocide) was the seventh one. But of course the Kashmiri Muslims would like to forget the others. So you have no credibility left, not only with Kashmiri Hindus but also world over.

    • Ayushman Zutshi

      Listen Mister. We dont need HIDAYAT from you or your kind. We are not going to answer this stupid question.
      The young KP generation has grown in free India and is not under seige. I see even in my Pandit parents a kind of genuflection to the muslim opinion. NEVER AGAIN. NEVER. You dont tell us what we have been through you little scumbag. Ch kusu Chukh. Aav Bod Bar Mir Dalll. Kath pyoyi kalhiras.

    • sarvesh pathak

      Kashmir Belongs to only law abiding Indian & patriots…..for others just one word who want to go Pak/Independence “Ek Ek ko Kaat ke kuktto aur Suar ko khila dengey” Sudhar Jao ..Harami se sareef Insaan ban jao

    • Shahji

      Well raies Mir, Alas you are born late (if u r young) otherwise you could ask your ancestors whey they garlanded Jinnah with shoes at Baramulla. Why they hated sheikh Abdullah? Why there was no uprising when grandfather of Maulana Umar Farooq (the lone muslim favouring Pakistan) was sent on exile. Why did Geelani swear allegiance to constitution when he became Member of Assembly. Why did Abdul Gani Lone experiment with being a Minister in Sheikh Abdullah Govt. Why was the journalist Mark Tuly reprimanded for reported whole hearted protest (one day earlier) and whole hearted greetings (the other day ) by Kshmiri Muslims at the time of Sheikh Abdullah public appearance.
      What GOI deployed governor Jagmohan u r speaking. Where u not the people to hail every action of Mr. Jagmohan during the first spell of his governorship. When on his second spell on 19th January 1990, entire muslim population flocked on the streets the same night shouting anti India slogans, gunshots in the air, torture of Hindus and all that inhumuman activity that is history. Do u mean to say that Mr. Jagmohan had entered your souls to do those acts against the Hindus and the State. What were ur aspirations — we will make it Pakistan—batoa russe (without Kashmiri pandits) batneo saan (alongwith their ladies). R you repenting how we could save the honour of our ladies. So please for God’s sake please don’t ever blame Mr.Jagmohan for your sins.

  • Lalit Ambardar

    Ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits at the hands of Kashmiri jihadists will remain a blot on ‘Kashmiriyat’ if it at all ever existed & on secular credentials of those in rest of India who have chosen silence over it.

  • Aman D

    Ah the joys of living in the shadow of the religion of peace.

  • Jai Kishan Sharma

    NL & Varad Sharma deserve cheers and applaud on writing/publishing the article on the plight of Kashmiri Pandit Woman who bear apathy of government as well as media till date. I extend my sincere thanks to NEWSLAUNDRY & convey AAHEE from BHATTINEES to Varad.

  • Very touching and thanks for this article. We need to be reminded everyday of the injustice that Kashmiri Pandits have been forced to undergo so that we can open our eyes and correct the situation… Never vote for the parties which don’t solve the problem due to minority vote bank politics…

  • ved_raina45


    • manumishra

      we r not united that is why there is no hope. But I do not favour you to become like north koreans we are simply Indian or Hindus you can say because in latest few years it has been proved all over the world that muslims have notion to do with nation.So I definitely agree with you that they should be dealt in a different manner .But don’t leave the hope ,trust in GOD .He will make them pay one day and if God is with them then we will destroy that god who knows no difference between devotee and sinner.So be united

  • AhmadSalafi

    Feeling sorry for what happened. Attack on any community be it Pandits or Gujrat Muslims must be condemned. I offer my sincere apology to my fellow Kashmiri brothers. I was just 1 year old when this happened. I swear upon Allah if any such incident would happen this time i would give my life in saving you people. I hope justice is delivered and the perpetrators are brought to task. Justice for Humanity.

    • ayushman zutshi

      Oh thank you salafi!!!! i was dying to hear one such reply from a koshur. dil ha koruth bag bag

    • Sid

      gujrat ke baare mein jaara research karo…pehle godhra kand hua tha….fir riots and then modi ne 1 day se army laga de the…aur states se police mange the…par congress states ne nahi de….aur london mein riots hoe the aur wo 1 week mein control mein ayye aur gujrat mein sirf 3 din mein…ab bolo…aur 10 yrs se koi riots nahi…aur ab bohot zyada muslims hajj ke leye bhi jate hai…iska matlab wo prosperious hai

    • Shahji

      Ahmed Salafi, at the time of partition, people say sher-i-kashmir saved Kashmiri pandits but the fact is that Ahmed or Mehmood, their neighbours, came to their rescue and not Sheikh Abdullah. (I) Jinnah is said to have been garlanded with shoes at Baramulla, muslims did not protest.(2) When Bhattoo was hanged, Kashmiri muslims protested and an antire village is Pulwama/Anantnag was ransacked and eleven hundred copies of Holy quran were set on fire for which Zia-ul-haq had commented—they are real Brahmin Zadey. (3) Recently a young Kashmiri Muslim and an aged Panditji were co-travelers in Sampark Kranti Train. Overnight, they did not interact with each other. They both got up early the next morning. Peeping out of the train they interacted with each other. The young man appeared a rational person. They talked about the ongoing turmoil and many other things. Panditji asked him” well gentleman what have u people achieved after so much of bloodbath and destruction”. The young man replied. “Panditji, we have achieved more than what we desired. The valley is free of pandits. Secondly, if you will shout at the Connaught Palace HINDUSTAN ZINDABAD, the cops will arrest you, level so many charges against you.u will be doomed. On the other hand if I will shout at the same venue PAKISTAN ZINDABAD, HINDUSTAN MURDABAD Manmohan Singh will come running barefooted and say— my dear son what is your trouble, what do you want, tell me I will give u— job, money ,whatever. Please say”. So Mr Salafi, the vested interests earned crores in creating this turmoil since 1990. They are killing Humanity. It was always a favourite pastime of most muslims to play with sentiments of Kashmiri Hindus. One leader of National Conference also spoke in an election gathering at Habba Kadal. O Batoa, you have three options i.e. ralew (mix up), galew (perish) ya chalew (or flee). But in 1990 when the masses picked up the gun and made their intensions known, those who could chose the last option. Still it was late for may whose dear ones were made to lay their lives for the fancy of jihadis.