Muslims mourn Hindu neighbour’s death

Srinagar June 13: There were no OB vans, none from the army of photojournalists and no security bandobast either. Although sombre, the scene was still heartening—it was Muslims mourning death of an aged Kashmiri Hindu woman.

They outnumbered the Hindus or Pandits at the funeral of Shamoin Gigoo, 81, wife of late Sham Lal, who breathed her last on Monday evening at her residence at Indra Nagar.

The Muslims stood calm at the Karan Nagar cremation ground as Ramesh Kumar Gigoo, the eldest son of Mrs Gigoo lit the pyre.

Yesterday it was the family friends, majority of them Muslims, who stood by the Gigoos in their hour of grief, and arranged for the funeral.

In turn, the bereaved family, took due care of religious obligation of the Muslim mourners of offering Zuhar prayers. The cremation on Tuesday was deferred from 12 pm to 2.30 pm.

Later, amidst sighs and sobs Shamoinee was consigned to flames as per the Hindu tradition. The mourners were seen comforting Ramesh, a pharmaceutical distributor, as he made rounds around the pyre.

About 50,000 Pandit families migrated to Jammu and many parts of India when anti-India uprising broke out in the Valley in 1990. But the Gigoos, like 7,000 other Pandits comprising 1,600 families, still live in the Valley.

The Muslim friends had counseled late Sham Lal and his wife to stay put. "They were reluctant to leave their homeland, they were very nice people," many mourners said.

When Sham Lal died during a visit to Jammu to his relatives' six years ago, it was Muslims who rushed there to attend his funeral.

And when Ramesh's son Ashish got married in Jammu last year, the Gigoos ensured that Halal meat, prepared by chefs arranged from the Valley, was served during the function.

"Though it was Holy month of Ramadan, they served us after Iftaar," recalled Ramesh's friend Farooq Ahmed. "Next morning we were surprised to find that Sehri was already laid on table."

Greater Kashmir