‘CONCEPT OF COEXISTENCE IN PERIL’: BaramullaPandits oppose exclusive townships for migrant KPs

For Varinder Ganjoo, a Kashmiri Pandit who returned to his native place here in 1996, the idea of exclusive Pandit townships has the potential to alienate the two communities beyond repair.
‘CONCEPT OF COEXISTENCE IN PERIL’: BaramullaPandits oppose exclusive townships for migrant KPs
GK Photo

For Varinder Ganjoo, a Kashmiri Pandit who returned to his native place here in 1996, the idea of exclusive Pandit townships has the potential to alienate the two communities beyond repair.

Recollecting the day when he landed back in Baramulla, Ganjoo says the warmth and affection showered by the locals "is what lies at the root of Kashmiri culture."

"As I started my journey from Jammu, I was apprehensive as to how my neighbours and friends will receive me. But as soon as I landed at Main Chowk, Baramulla, the affection and love my neighbors showed to me brought tears in my eyes," said Ganjoo, president of SanathanDharamSabhaBaramulla.

"For one month, I did not know who was arranging my meals— lunch and dinner. My friends and residents of Baramulla town never allowed me to feel isolated. The compassion shown by my fellow Baramulla residents encouraged me to continue my business here and today I am one of the successful businessmen of the town," said Ganjoo, who runs a sweets shop in Main Chowk of the town.

He said the exclusive township for migrant Kashmiri Pandits can never bring the two communities closer and instead will severe the bond between them who have been living together for centuries.

"We have to live together with our Muslim brethren. Once a Pandit family will step out of the proposed township, it will be hard to eye to eye with the Muslim neighbours. Besides that intermingling of two communities will be hard," added Ganjoo.

A Kashmiri Hindu, Kashmiri Lal Vohra, who actually hails from Muzaffrabad, while expressing his dissatisfaction over the proposed Pandit townships, said that the entire plan is "fraught with stupidity."

He said if the initiative from the state government is aimed at ensuring that both the communities live in complete harmony, then how can one expect that cordial relationship can be achieved by suggesting one community to live within walls?

"I came back to Baramulla in 2008 for the marriage ceremony of my friend's daughter. The warmth shown by my friends forced me to return back. I am here enjoying everything from love and affection from my Muslim brothers," said Vohra.

Similar sentiments were exhibited by a family residing 22 kilometres from Baramulla town in Wagoora village. The family didn't migrate and today they are proud of their decision.

JawaharLalKoul, along with his two brothers, is residing in Wagoora area of Kandi belt of the district. Be it grief or happiness, the family shares with the locals and can't imagine living in separate colony.

"We surely know how safe we feel here. Entire village is our family. If someone will ask us to live in a separate colony, it would be a big abuse to us," said JawaharKoul, while sitting beside his wife, Babli and son VikasKoul.

JawaharKoul said that separate colony will alienate us and those Kashmiri Pandit families who are already settled alongside their Muslim brethren will find it difficult to continue putting up at their current habitations.

"If migrant Pandit families are settled in exclusive townships then those who didn't migrate will be asking for accommodation in the same colonies. This will harm the concept of co-existence of which we are the guardians," said Jawaharkoul.

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