The 1989-90 migration of Kashmiri Pandits: focus on children

Psychol Rep. 1994 Aug;75(1 Pt 1):259-63. doi: 10.2466/pr0.1994.75.1.259.


Analysis of personal interviews from a sample of 42 Kashmiri Pandit families living in large community halls indicated the migration affected the intra- and interfamily interactions. In trying to keep their ethnic identity, they also had to adapt to their new environment. For the Kashmiri Pandits the sense of being uprooted was felt very strongly as there was a complete change in ecology and loss of status, property, and prestige. The community had taken over the role of socialization. The younger children (4-11 years) expressed enjoyment of communal living more than the older group (12-18 years). Children reported being closer to their mothers. Incidence of child abuse was reported as higher since migration. Girls disliked camp living more than boys. Most of the children were performing above average at school. Children preferred to speak in their native language at home.

PIP: This study analyzed personal interviews among 42 Kashmiri Pandit families, who were forced to migrate from Srinigar to Jammu and then Delhi, India, during 1989-90. The aim was to ascertain the impact on the health of children under conditions of forced migration into refugee camps. Lengths of stay in the camps varied from 2 to 9 months. Field work included a structured interview and 2 observations of inter and intra family interactions and interactions among children. The purposive sample included 69 children 4-18 years old, 36 fathers, 40 mothers, 6 grandfathers, and 2 grandmothers. Each family had a space totaling about 36 sq ft without privacy or a toilet. Although 14 of the 42 families were extended families, only 6 remained extended families in Delhi. All but 4 fathers were unemployed in Delhi, where before migration all had been employed. Only 6 of the 25 previously working women had jobs. There were many reportedly ill, and interfamily fights were common. Children were reported as having more frequent and longer illnesses. Interfamily relations were reported as improved with increased income. The community was very strict with children 12-18 years old. Satisfaction with the camp was reportedly greater among the boys, who also enjoyed greater freedom of movement. Both girls and boys were expected to excel in school. Only 5 children were allowed to play with Muslim children. Parents reinforced speaking Kashmiri at home in order to reinforce cultural values. Dissatisfaction was reported by many families about the role government in Kashmir and the lack of improvement in conditions that would permit return migration. A limitation of the study was the lack of representativeness.

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Ethnic Groups / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Personality Development*
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Social Environment
  • Socialization
  • Violence*