-by sunil shangloo
When my Friend Raju told me that Kashmiri Pandits are not wanted in Kashmir, I was not surprised. He fled from Kashmir like lakhs of KP’s back in 1990.His Father and Uncles had bought good quality “Deodaar wood” and had stored it on the first floor of their house. They had planned to raise two more stories on their existing House. But when Raju visited his house after 17-18 years, not a twig was left from those deodar’s. Not a wooden door was left intact. And all the wooden-windows were missing.
The plunderers of the KP’s are known to the Government. Merely saying that –“it was a phase”-is simply not enough. The protruding nexus between the property-grabbers of KP’s and politicians (both separatists and Mainstream) is more than conspicuous. Yet, not a brow is raised. Instead, the Political system remains a mute spectator. And a Kashmiri pandit suffers.
My name is Sunil Shangloo. I live in Jammu/Ghaziabad.
From last seven years, I am in a dilemma. Unlike many other Kashmiri Pandits, I did not sell my land in Ganderbal or my house at Ali Kadal, Srinagar,Kashmir.But, in spite of having a house and land in Kashmir, I am bereft of both.
Some 7-8 years back, a broker from Ganderbal by the name “Noor mohammed sheikh”, Kashmir , came to our house in Jammu.A KP acquaintance of my Father had given him our reference. He inveigled my father like a true salesman and convinced him, that he can sell our agricultural land(63 kanal, 9 marla) at a good price. My father- a simple man-promptly believed him. Noor Mohammed even handed over one lakh rupees to my father as advance. He told my father that he needs the Xerox of the documents of the land and a signature on the photocopied documents. My father, in good faith, abided to his suggestion.
After a month or so, my father tried to contact him at his Kashmir Mobile/telephone number. Initially he used to receive my father’s call and behaved well. But after two months or so, he stopped taking the calls of my father completely. My father thought that maybe he was just another “Braggadocio.”And that he will come back for the money(1 lakh) given as advance.
After many months, one of my father’s Muslim friend from Ganderbal phoned . He spoke to my father for almost half an hour. After he hang-up the phone, my father, who was visibly-shaken and perspiring called upon my mother, who was in the Kitchen. “ what happened, you look disturbed, is everything O.K?”, My mother, who was holding a glass in her hand, asked him. “I just came to know that Noor Mohammed is a charlatan. Haji saab-my friend informed me that he has somehow forged the documents of the land and is claiming to be the lawful owner of the land.” My father said exasperatedly. In shock, the glass fell down from the hand of my mother and tears rolled down from her eyes.
I and my Father decided to visit Ganderbal and take stock of the situation. And one fine day we reached Srinagar after 17 years. We booked a hotel room in Srinager. Since, we have/had a house in down-town, “Alikadal”, we could not stop ourselves visiting our house-that is home to us even today.
Another shock was waiting for us.
The house, where my father, I and my sister were born was in a wretched state. Somehow, We entered inside. The house looked in a dilapidated condition. The walls were dirty. The wooden-windows were snatched away by an unknown plunderer/s. The tin-sheets of the ceiling were scrapped by probably an so-called-Azadi-lover. The left-over belongings were missing, probably embellishing someone’s home in our neighborhood. The alcove/s of the “Thakur-kuth”(pooja room), that once housed the images of our deities was/were broken. All idols and photos missing. And the stinking smell of the urine pinpointed towards the attitude of those, who probably will never want to see us back. And I was not wrong.
We had built two houses in our 1 kanal(620 sq. yards) compound .One house adjacent to the main street had six shops and six rooms. Another part of the house had total of eight rooms. We had rented-out 3 shops. But our absence had emboldened the muslim-tenants so much that they had illegally occupied the rest of three shops as well, without our information/consent.
I confronted our tenants-the shopkeepers. I asked them, “ don’t you think, you should have had informed us at least once, before breaking –into the vacant shops”? One of the Shopkeeper retorted back, “Azad ahmed mir has rented out these shops to us”. I and my father were puzzled. My father asked them in a humble tone,” Who is Azad ahmed Mir?”. One of the shopkeepers said caustically, “ He is/was a militant. He has told everyone here that he has purchased your property. He even showed us the documents .Go and find him. Don’t bother us again.”
We went to Alikadal police station to lodge a complaint. But instead of co-operating with us, they began eulogizing the culprit and used vituperative language against us making it evident that they were hand-in-glove with Azad ahmed mir. It was on the intervention of IG crime, an F.I.R was finally registered. We had to fight it legally in the court. The matter is still in the court and the property is now under the jurisdiction of the court.
Coming back to “our-Ganderbal –land”, We came to know that Noor Mohammed had forged the signatures of my father in order to take the possession of the land. Also, instead of I lakh rupees, he had shown that he paid my father 12 lakh rupees in advance. We registered a case against him as well. The papers presented by him as original were sent to the forensic lab, where it was established that he had indeed forged the papers in order to usurp our property. However, the case is still sub judice.
I am fighting two cases in J&K, just to prove that-I am the legal owner of my own property. Like me, Hundreds of KP’s are fighting in the courts to prove that they are the lawful owners. It should have had been the responsibility of the state govt. to help us, but their political aspirations are holding them back and they continue to condone the shenanigans of the plunderers and Property- Grabbers of the KP’s.
But, This time, I am determined. And I will get back my property.