When Muslims mourned demise of Pandit priest

When Muslims mourned demise of Pandit priest

Razdan lived in Habba Kadal locality here when Pandits started to migrate from Kashmir in 1990.

When other members of his community migrated from Kashmir in 1990, Rattan Lal Razdan, a Kashmir Pandit priest braved all odds to remain in his motherland. For past 25 years, he lived among Muslims and performed his religious duties. 

Razdan (65) breathed his last on Saturday at his house in Shaheen Bagh Gulshah Nagar locality here “shocking” his Muslim neighbours. It was a confluence of communal harmony when Muslims and Pandits performed his last rites and consoled his family.

“Ratan Lal’s demise has shattered us. He has shared our joys and sorrows for over two decades. We have lost a fatherly figure and every family is in mourning here,” said Dr Abdul Majeed, a local. “I could not control my emotions while shouldering his coffin and felt my family member had passed away,” he said as tears welled in his eyes.

Razdan lived in Habba Kadal locality here when Pandits started to migrate from Kashmir in 1990. “He braved all odds and preferred to stay in his motherland. He was the lone Pandit priest who performed our rituals even in hostile situations. He was popular among both Muslims and Pandits for his vast religious knowledge and social work,” said Kumar Wanchoo, a Kashmiri Pandit.

Kumar said Razdan did not demand any money for performing the rituals. “It is because of him we mustered courage to stay in Kashmir during political uncertainty,” Wanchoo said.

In early 1990s’, Razdan who earlier worked as a telephone operator in a government hospital, moved to Gulshan Nagar locality here with his small family of wife and two daughters. “We were the lone Pandit family in the locality. I vividly remember how I used to shiver due to fear on hearing sound of footsteps outside our house. However, our Muslim neighbours respected my father and gave us sense of belonging and security,” said Razdan’s elder daughter Meenakshi.

When her father passed away Meenakshi, a banker, was on duty in Delhi. “When my father’s health condition deteriorated, we informed our Muslim neighbours who rushed him to a local hospital but he passed away. They consoled my mother and younger sister and made arrangements for my father’s cremation,” said Razdan’s younger daughter Amrita who recently completed M.Tech.

“Communal harmony is still alive in Kashmir,” Meenakshi said. “Unlike wards of other Pandits who migrated from Kashmir and got jobs on platter, we had to work hard to achieve success in our respective fields. Our Muslim brethren are instrumental for success in our lives,” the Razdan sisters said. “We feel proud to be born in Kashmir where bond of love transcends all barriers,” they said.