Kashmiri Pandit couple moves in Muslim neighbourhood in valley, rejects PM’s package

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Just when the displaced Kashmiri Pandits marked 26th anniversary of being uprooted from their homes in Jammu and Kashmir, a
Kashmiri Pandit couple has decided to return back to the valley by settling in a Muslim neighbourhood.

70-year-old Omkar Razdan and 65-year-old Vijay Bazaz Razdan have also refused to take the Prime Minister’s package towards rehabilitating Kashmiri Pandits.

They have constructed a three-storey house in the Muslim-majority Humhama colony of Srinagar to dispel the myth that the two communities cannot live together.

“It was a conscious decision not to live in a separate settlement or colony, as it goes against the idea of Kashmiriyat. Kashmir was an abode of communal harmony when the minorities were attacked in 1947 in other parts of India. Not a single Pandit was killed or displaced then,” Razdan was quoted by The Hindu newspaper.

Razdan, who recounted his experiences of growing up while istening to folklores on Hindu-Muslim harmony said that he had named the house Noor Augur (Spring of light), to relive the past.

He said, “We travel by public transport in Srinagar. We get a warm feeling. I leave my keys with my Muslim electrician when I travel to New Delhi.”

Razadan has authored the book, Trauma of Kashmir and Untold Realities.

He told the paper that he was moved by the efforts of his Muslim neighbourhood to rescue him and his wife in the floods of 2014. “It may be astonishing but I chanted Islamic verses as Muslims chanted ‘Har Har Mahadev’ in our joint effort to escape the floods,” he added..

His wife, for her part, justified the decision to move in to a Muslim neighbourhood by saying that she was  often moved by the verses she heard every morning from the local mosque.

She said, “It is so soothing. When we introduce ourselves as Pandits, we are offered free vegetables and grocery at times. This is not possible anywhere else.”

Razdan also said that even though he saw quite a hostile message written on the walls of the mosque, he had decided to live and die in his homeland.

He said, “On the walls of the mosque, we see the words ‘Go India, Go back’ but the locals do not allow politics to interfere in our personal relations.”

Kashmiri Pandits were forced to uproot themselves in 1990 in the wake of raging militancy and hostility towards them from the militant groups.

(Photo courtesy: The Hindu)

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