Will they ever return to the valley?
Kota Rani of the Lohara dynasty was the last Hindu ruler of Kashmir. His reign was followed by the adoption of Islam by the population of the valley; and the Shah Mir dynasty ruled from 1339 to 1561.
Kashmir saw uncertainty over the next few decades until it became part of the expanding Mughal Empire under Akbar and his descendants from 1586 to 1751. Pandits were generally well treated until the era of Aurangzeb, which became punitive for them, and for Hindus in general. This was followed by Afghan rule between 1752 and 1819.
This was the darkest period for Kashmiri Pandits who were tortured to death unless they converted to Islam and only 11 families survived the Holocaust period living mostly in hiding.
It was at this time that 3 pundits led by Birbal Dhar came to Lahore to the court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and related their misfortunes which prompted the Maharaja to send his forces to annex Kashmir and came a passage of the Sikh kingdom. This was followed by the British transferring rule to Dogras under the Treaty of Lahore and Maharaja Gulab Singh became the ruler.
The Dogra regime lasted until 1947 when Kashmir became part of India although part of it was captured by Pakistan. The pandits were a privileged section of the people of the valley during their regime.
During the long years of Islamic rule in Kashmir, many well-educated and economically sound pandits left the valley for different parts of India due to better job opportunities and also to escape from the very rigid and unpredictable rulers.