National Conference leader Dr Sameer Kaul on Monday participated in the annual Mela Kheer Bhawani here and hoped the occasion further strengthens bonds between Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims.
As part of National Conference delegation led by party President Dr Farooq Abdullah that visited the shrine, Dr Kaul interacted with devotees and expressed hope that Kashmiri Pandits won’t “give up” the decades-old bonding with the festival.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Kaul said that this annual festival is an occasion of hope and integration.
He said that there is a need for sane voices from both Kashmiri and Pandit communities that will work to strengthen this bond of brotherhood and recreate the sense of belonging between the two communities, which he said was a requisite for the return of Kashmiri Pandits to Kashmir.
He said that at a time when “shrill voices of hardliners are drowning the voices of sanity”, all moderates must stand up.
“It is a day of hope and I sincerely feel that Kashmiri Pandit community doesn’t cut whatever thread is left in the cord. I hope the community strengthens the connect with this festival since it is an age-old sign of Kashmiriyat. Rather than allowing the few threads to snap, Pandit community should strengthen the attachment,” said Kaul.
He said that these events are an opportunity for both the communities to strengthen communal harmony and brotherhood, which have been the hallmark of the glorious pluralistic ethos of Jammu and Kashmir.
Dr Kaul said that these events are the small robust bridge that have survived huge tides of “engineered hatred”, most of the times manipulated.
He said that these events shouldn’t be sacrificed at the altar of short-term politics.
“My appeal to all the political mainstream parties is to keep these events out of the political domain. I chose National Conference because its leadership is broadminded and looks beyond,” Kaul said.
Kaul said a “campaign of hatred and defamation” has been started against him by some vested interests within his community, but “I will continue to work for the welfare and betterment of the community in particular”.
“Some fanatics and fascist forces within my community do not like my opinions and a few of them get manipulated by vested interests to shout inanities in TV studios and widen these rifts between the two communities,” he added.
“Many people in my community believe that Kashmiriyat died the day they were forced to leave their homeland. But when I tell them that Kashmiri people also suffer in all this and they too got threats they disagree and create a wedge between the two communities,” Kaul said.