It was the Janmashtami of 1990, and Rashneek Kher, a 16-year-old Kashmiri pandit in exile in the squalid refugee camps of Jammu, stood in line at the milkman's. In addition to selling milk, the vendor also stored copies of the morning newspaper, which Kher would hungrily pore over. That day Kher read that his house was burnt down. "My father didn't speak to anyone for a month. He had built that house himself," says Kher.
According to United Nations High Commission for Refugees, 26.4 million ended 2011 as internally displaced people, a figure far higher than the number of refugees. Kher and his clan know what internal displacement means, having lived like refugees in their own country since 1990, when an estimated 3.5 lakh pandits left the valley. Yet their flight from Kashmir remains shrouded in silence.
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