Greater Kashmir is a window to my home

An interaction with Dr S N Ganjoo, a veteran Kashmiri Pandit who is settled in England but wants to come back and live his last moments in Kashmir

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Person:
My family was from Narparistan, Fateh Kadal, Srinagar. I was born there.  My father, engineer by profession, served at places like Baramulla, and Sopore. Finally he was posted at Muzaffarabad - itís a talk of pre 1947. I was those days studying at Amar Singh College, Srinagar. When Tribals raided Muzaffarabad, my father was among the first casualties. He went missing. We hoped that he was alive but he never returned. Since Kashmiri families are very closely knit, everyone shared the grief. Now the matter at hand was what I should do. Someone suggested that I should get into teaching, and earn for the family. But finally I went outside to continue my studies. I joined Banaras Hindu University. Later I went to places like Bombay, Calcutta and Pune.  Then I thought it was time to move abroad. So I went to England in 1953-54, and settled there. I did my PhD there and got married. Against the inclination of my ilk Ė Kashmiri Pandits always want to do a job Ė I didnít prefer it. I got into pharmaceutical business; would supply it to even Kashmir. I later bought an Estate in England and now we are into real estate. Even I have been getting Lavender from the Valley, and I market it in England.
On Kashmiris Moving Out:
Earlier Kashmiris would be confined to Kashmir. Banihal Pass was a sort of limit to us. Now we have started spreading out. First to the different states of India and now our people are moving abroad Ė England, US; and this has created a need for communication. Hence the importance of GK for us.
On Greater Kashmir:
Living in England we had no news from our home; not to speak of Kashmir, even Indian newspapers would be missing there. Somehow my friend would get to read The Asian Age. That was the only connect with this part of the world. Later my friend somehow laid his hands on the net edition of the Greater Kashmir, and he suggested the same to me. Since then we stay connected, thanks to internet edition of Greater Kashmir. That has made a difference to our lives.
New Economic Opportunities:
Kashmiris in the developed countries started their businesses. Now when they are very settled their money is destined to flow into Kashmir. That can open up new avenues of economic growth. That is how even a country like England grew, when its business communities in South Africa and other countries sent money back home.
We will come with tones of money, but it is for the government of the J&K to create opportunities for the businessmen, and other professionals to work in, and for Kashmir. We have to go for private enterprise. Handicrafts is good, but we need to industrialize things, so that we can produce it on a massive scale for mass use. We have to realise that we have enough potential in terms of the resources like medicinal plants.
1947 Memories:
Greatest memory of those days is people like Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, Begum Abdullah and Bakhshi Ghulam Muhammed. I met Sheikh Sahab those days. The tolerance of our people is to be cherished.
Of course one remembers the loot by tribals. Mohra power station was attacked and there was no electricity in the valley.
Living Abroad:
We try to stay connected while living in England. We have established a Kashmir Bahavan Centre and do cultural events. British government looks after it in terms of funding. We have invited singers from here to perform in those events. Long back Shamima Dev performed there. Muslims and Pandits would join each othersí festivals in England.
Transmitting tradition to Children:
I have two daughters. One married to a Kashmiri doctor, Dr Sameer Koul. They come to Kashmir frequently. Another is married to Professor Tony, an Englishman. He teaches biotechnology. I believe he too has become like a Kashmiri. He came to Kashmir recently.
1989 and After:
Kashmiris are not radicals, they are very tolerant. Personally I feel Kashmiri was misguided by extremist elements. And these extremists are present in both the communities. It was a sad thing that a rupture between two communities happened, but it will end soon. The responsibility for this rupture lies with both the communities.
Communal Rupture:
I think the then Governor, Jagmoham, is the man responsible. He precipitated the matters. He was a wrong choice as governor. Basically his job was to provide security to the community. History will impeach him one day. If anyone in the community was killed it didnít mean that you take the whole community out. Compare it with the times when Triblas attacked, Begum Abdullah would make repeated appeals that no Pandit should be harmed. And it worked. That is how such crisis is dealt with.
And the leadership at that time was Hindu leadership, not Pandit leadership. There was no Premnath Bazaz at that time. Bazaz had a vision. Now we had people who thought in extrme ways.
Muslim-Pandit Relationship:
Panun Kashmir, All India Kashmir Samaj; these parties believe that Pandits have been made to leave. But we keep telling them that how can we part ways with our Muslim brethren. I tell Moti Lal Koul that we need to engage with the moderate Muslim leadership. But then there is a question of accommodating them in terms of economy. Even Separatist leaders have to work for creating conditions for the return of Pandits.
Amarnath Yatra
Though my main interest is culture and I donít get involved in politics. But itís is a good idea that Kashmiri Pandits should handle the Amarnath Yatra.

Lastupdate on : Sat, 29 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 29 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 30 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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