Tag Archives: india

Kashmir Flood sep 2014-some images

Few Pictures were taken on 4-5th sep 2014(mentioned in those pics).Rest of the photos were taken on 13sep 2104.

zero bridge(4th sep)

zero bridge(4th sep)

Taken from the bridge near SPS Musuem on 4th sep.

Taken from the bridge near SPS Musuem on 4th sep.

hanuman mandir(sth sep)

hanuman mandir(sth sep)

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lal ded(13 th sep)

lal ded(13 th sep)

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Amarnath And The Unctuous Muslim

Time and again, the religious fanatics-who oppose the presence of Hindus in Kashmir-are ingeniously devising new ways to create ruckus and stall Amarnath Yatra on one pretext or the other. It is these fanatics and their supporters who give a religious colour to everything and incite hatred among the majority of the population. The Amarnath agitation of 2008 and 2010 were the results of such devious- conspiracy.

These fanatics and their supporters were responsible for the commotion at Baltal ,just a couple of days back, that resulted in communal conflagration literally and practically. Their sinister planning paid-off and the Yatra was suspended from Baltal-The hotspot where all this action took place-for a day or so.

The real reason, it seems is the control of Business both at Baltal as well as well as Domail. Many Langars(community kitchens, that serve free food to the yatris) are operated upon by the people, who live outside the valley. These volunteers come every year from different parts of the country to serve the devotees free of cost.

The locals (ponywalla, tentwallah etc.) earn at least 80% of their yearly income from this yatra, but still, Some local businessmen, with a certain anti-India ideology, envy them, as they think that can make ten times the money, that they usually earn during the yatra, if somehow the free-langars are not allowed to operate.

It has been a diabolical plan of Pakistani-backed-separatists since 1990 to stall the yatra . Often they give this yatra an anti-Islam colour and incite the majority to oppose this yatra both tacitly as well as blatantly, on the name of Islam. Every year the separatists claim that India is secretly building a township at Baltal and that they are following the policy of Israel. On the contrary, It is these very Pakistan-backed-separatists, who changed the demography of Kashmir by ousting the indigenous Kashmiri Hindus from Kashmir. Their bigotry and double standard is condemnable beyond words.

This dichotomous-sadistic-selective-self-portraying by the religious fanatics is both deplorable as well as sympathizing. Deplorable-because of their double standards and their role in selective projecting of Islam viz-a-viz different countries. Sympathizing-because on their part of acting like Philistines.

Did I say Philistine.( Or should I have said Palestine.)

These days ,Kashmiri Muslims are protesting against Israel too and are supporting Palestine, since majority of Palestine’s are Muslims. And thus they feel a sense of oneness with them. It is not that they always support their co-religionists. Their are few examples that has time and again exposed their moral- duplicity and selective portraying of being a Victim.
Here are few examples:

On Bangladesh
The Muslims of India, particularly Kashmiri Muslims never protested against Pakistan’s role in 1971 Bangladesh liberation war, when at least 2 million Bangladeshis were murdered by the Pakistani army and thousands of Bangla-women were raped(at least 80% of the victims were Muslims). They have maintained a conspicuous silence over the persecution and killings of Shia’s in Pakistan as well.

on Syria
The Muslim world has turned a blind eye towards Syria. Tens of thousands of Syrians are languishing in tents and are waiting to return to their roots with dignity. The jordanese and other Arab nationals are exploiting them to the hilt and have lecherous intentions towards their womenfolk. Why are the Muslims of India, Particularly Kashmiri Muslims(KM’s) silent over this issue!

On Darfur
What about Darfur? Shouldn’t the violence be condemned even though the atrocities are committed by the co-religionists. Isn’t it a shame that in Darfur(sudan), the apartheid has invoked the demons among the two different communities of the same religion. And that religion happens to be Islam.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_in_Darfur

On Iraq
The deafening silence over the cold-blooded murder of Shia’s is deplorable. But since the perpetrators happen to be from the sunni-community, Hence the Indian Muslims particularly K.M’s have turned a blind eye towards the atrocities of ISIS ,  and look at Iraq-issue  through their religious Bifocals. Not only the religious atrocities on shia’s hasn’t been criticized by the Muslims of India, They are in fact supporting the rise of Sunni-hegemony. The demonstrations in support of ISIS in Kashmir is a proof of such decadent mentality.

On china’s part
Though many a times, I have come across KM’s on facebook who openly support China(as it happens to be Pakistan’s biggest ally).Some of them(KM’s) prefer to accede to China over India, if given a chance. In India, Muslims have the full right to practice their religion and observe fasts(roza).But these self-styled-zealots have maintained a stoic silence , knowing well that Chinese government has ordered a ban on Roza(fasts).Any Uyghurs-the muslims of China-found observing Roza will be persecuted. Had it happened in India, the whole of Muslim community would have come on the streets to protest. But since China happens to be the biggest supporter of Pakistan, Hence they act as if Uyghurs don’t exist at all.

It is not surprising, the way , the Muslim-fundamentalists have been acting during the Amarnath Yatra since 1990. Though the demagogues backed by Pakistan have been showing a rosy picture of Caliphate(united Muslim world) to K.M’s, but they deliberately withhold the information from the Gullible public about the duplicity of the countries whom they adore like Pakistan or Saudi-Arabia. Pakistan has never ever condemned the atrocities of the uygur -Muslims by communist china. And should I have to remind the Muslims of India and Pakistan that they can only be the helots in Saudi Arabia, but never will they get the citizenship, however much, They may act or dress like the saudi’s.

What ever is happening between Palestine and Israel is sad and the acts of violence should be condemned. But it should not be selective as in the case of Palestine. The incidents in Iraq, Darfur, China, Afghanistan, Syria or Bangladesh should also be condemned. I have doubts that these unctuous- Pakistani-puppets will never shun Bigotry and double-standards. And they will find excuses to stall Amarnath yatra yet again, not only this year but, also, through the years to come….

When the trouble-makers of Kashmir remind the general public about the arbitrary-intentions of India to replicate the Israel model, They should have the guts to face their own conscience and tell the same public about reasons of the conspicuous-absence of Kashmiri pundits from the valley as well….

A kashmiri-Pandits view on BJP,Congress, AAP and MODI

ON BJP AND CONGRESS

“Narendra Bhai Modi”, or simply “Modi”-as he is referred all over India- has captivated the attention of entire India, in a way that many of us had never seen before. And Kashmiri-Pandits are no exception. KP’s have been known to support “BJP”, since their forced exodus from the valley of Kashmir. KP’s unanimously (except some anomalous groups-who follow their own personal agenda) are of this view that it was “BJP” and its allies, that stood behind them, at that time when they were at the nadir of their existence as a community. Also most of the KP’s believe that the “Gandhi’s” ditched them. “AAP” does not even exist for the community of KP’s.

The KP community were the staunch supporters of the “Congress-I”. Prior to 1990, The “Jan-sangh” and other “Hindu-centric” political parties could not make much impact on the “KP” community as a whole, because KP’s considered “Nehru-Gandhi” family as their own, an extension of their families. When Sh. Jawahar lal Nehru” died, many KP men and women were seen mourning his death. En-Masse, many women came on the streets of Kashmir , many of them were seen beating their chests in grief and mourning loudly in Kashmiri, “Kothiy gav sone Jawahar-lal( where has our own jawahar lal gone!) amidst tears.

Indira Gandhi too was adored by the KP-Community. I know for sure that She was in touch with many Kashmiri pundits through letters, and was abreast with the actual-happenings of Kashmir. Her death too was condoled deeply by the community of Kashmiri-Pandits.

In 1990, Kashmiri Pandits soon realized after their exodus that the “congress party”, whom they had supported all along, was no-where to be seen. It was at that time , “BJP” and its allies came forward to the help of the beleaguered community. Reservations were given to the students of “KP” community in various professional collages across India. The voice , concern and views of the KP’s were put forward vociferously by the “BJP”.

Sh. Rajiv Gandhi’s death in May 1991 was too grieved upon by a large section of KP’s even though congress had remained merely a mute-spectator of their forced exodus. Even though it had been over a year, since they were uprooted from Kashmir and that a large section of KP’s were still living in Make-shift tents or they were given a temporary -refugee in deserted Govt. buildings. The congress party’s cold response to KP Community in early nineties accentuated the dirty vote-bank-politics of congress. But in spite of everything, they felt the loss of Sh. Rajiv Gandhi.

A large section of people of India perceive “Gandhis” as “Brahmins” or “Pandits”. Their lineage is traced to Moti lal Nehru and Jawahar lal Nehru-The known faces of Indian independence struggle and Kashmiri pundits by birth. All these years, the Nehru-Gandhi family have projected their KP connection but I am sorry to say that they have done little for the upliftment of the KP community- towards which they owe their allegiance.

The BJP, on the other hand did exactly the opposite. Even though, KP’s are not a vote-bank, still the services rendered to KP’s by BJP is commendable.

ON AAP

To begin with most of the KP’s (as was with most of the Indians), thought that Anna and his team are being supported by the BJP. To a large extent, it was true. The majority of the people(80%) present at their protests were from the RSS and the BJP.

The main bone of contention with AAP is that one of their ace leader- Prashant Bhushan, has in the past obnoxiously supported the redundant theory of Plebiscite of Kashmir. Knowing well, that the plebiscite is a gate-way for Pakistan to usurp Kashmir. Prashant Bhushan’s stand on Kashmir is more or less the same even today as no unequivocal statement on Kashmir and plebiscite has been presented by him, though he has given some feeble dilatory ambiguous remarks on plebiscite on Kashmir. AAP’s soft approach towards him has made it evident that they too tacitly support his theory.

AAP’s known support to Moaists is also questionable? In the recent elections they have given tickets to the known sympathizers of Moaists. It is a known fact that Moasists and Jihadis have been/are working hand in glove, and are getting all the funding from the enemies of India. And that their only aim is to de-stabilize India.The recent vitriolic remarks of Shazia Ilmi- wherein she is exhorting Muslims to be communal-is invidious as well as disgusting. The anti-corruption masquerade of the AAP has become too transparent for a common man not to see through their intentions . Their servile attitude towards the known jihadis and Moaists is awful. The Balkanization tactics of India by the AAP on the name of anti-corruption or secularism will not be allowed in India, come what May…

ON MODI

No doubt, Narendra Bhai Modi is the most beloved leader of the Kashmiri Pandits as of today. Kashmiri pandit community has pinned a lot of hopes on Modiji. KP’s were thrilled to see that not only the abrogation of article 370 was included in the BJP manifesto, but the return of KP’s into the valley with dignity and Honour was also mentioned. KP’s believe that the Narendra Bhai Modi’s coronation as the Prime Minister of India is inevitable and that he will prove to be a force to reckon with. KP’s believe that India as a Nation will emerge stronger under the prime Ministership of Modiji.

And, as is with the rest of Indians, for KP’s as well,” BJP is Modi” and “Modi is the BJP”…..”AB KI BAAR, MODI SARKAR”.

Aftermath of 19 jan 1990-How and why I fled Kashmir

1990, jan 19, invoked the demons within the people of a large section of the majority community to commit the heinous acts blatantly. Kashmiri Pandits’s(KP’s) still dread that cold night of January. Most the KP’s felt that they will be attacked by the colossal Islamic-mobs meandering the lanes and sub-lanes of the valley with an anti-India mission that night. The cacophonous slogans by the mobs instilled a fear among the KP’s. And the bullets from the A.K 47’s of the militants that killed hundreds of KP’s made sure that the Hindus flee Kashmir.

19 Jan 1990 triggered the subsequent events that cleansed the KP’s as a community from the valley. While many quixotic flowery dreams of the KM’s were soon shattered, when the Army took over, the wounds left by that bestial night left a gangrene in the minds of KP’s as a community .It will be 24 years now, since KP’s left the frenzied valley of the 1990.Not a single KP had thought that their return to their motherland will take such a long time. The forced departure was gruesome but quick .However their return to the valley is still elusive. And with passing time, they are slowly but surely getting erased from the Tapestry of Kashmir.

My encounter with two friends Dalip Bhat and Sanjay Bhat, who left the valley in 1990; their experience, and what made them exit from Kashmir after that cold night of 19 Jan 1990!

Few days back ,I asked Dalip, “what does 19 jan 1990 mean to you?”He said, ”Nothing ! I don’t think of Kashmir anymore.” I asked surprisingly, “why is it so?”. He looked straight into my eyes and said, “Do you remember when you visited me while I was posted as a casual worker with Govt. department at Pulwama, Kashmir.” I said calmly, “Yes! But what has it to do with Kashmir!” He said , “I was working on ad-hoc basis with the Forest department .I was just 19 years old in 1989.But I was happy. My village in Murran, pulwama was everything to me. We had rice-fields and orchards. And cows. My family was self-sufficient. I or my family had never- ever thought of moving out of the valley . But then the militancy erupted and the militants backed by Pakistan started killing us. Everything changed after that”. He paused, as if thinking something. “In the midst of a spring night of 1990, I fled Kashmir along with mine and Sanjay’s family . Sanjay’s father was on the hit-list of militants. We were moving stealthily from karfal mohalla to fateh Kadal with our belongings. Karfal mohalla was more sensitive at that time.” He said. His mobile phone rang .He saw the number and excused himself to attend the call.

When Dileep came back after 5 minutes or so, I requested to him to continue. He thought for a while and said, “After many physical, mental and verbal abuses from the majority community, who were clearly on a mission to free Kashmir from the Indians-including us, We somehow managed to reach Jammu.” I interrupted him and asked him, “ Tell me something about your early experiences of Jammu?”.He yawned , stretched his body for a moment, smiled and said, “I lived in Misriwala camp for three years. I was running a grocery shop there. For another one and a half years, I became a trader. I was a sort of stockist of polythene bags. Then I went to Delhi and worked there for 2 years. I came back to Jammu after my mother fell ill in 1998. Thereafter, I opened a Hardware shop in lower Roop-Nagar and I am still in the same Business since then.” There was a sense of pride in what he was saying. “How is your Business now?” I asked him.

“It is good.I have nine shops in a row. Business is excellent. In spite of everything, I feel, I need some more space to stock things like sanitary ware, tiles etc.” “how do you got the idea of opening this shop?”, I asked him. He said, “when, I came here back in 1998, I sensed that lot of KP’s are constructing new houses. Hence, I too opened a shop. And as it proved, It was really a very good decision.” I quipped “But, you didn’t really answered my question, which I asked in the beginning i.e Jan 19 1990?”.

He deliberated for a while and said, “ the memories of Jan 19-20 and the aftermath will ever remain engraved in the minds all those KP’s who were present in the valley. Never before had we witnessed anything wicked- like that of 1990 . Even in my village Murran, the majority community indirectly facilitated our exodus. They had told us categorically that, in case of any militant attack on us, they will side with the militants. Some people say, the mass-madness of the majority community in early 90 was an instantaneous impromptu reaction of the Muslims towards an oppressed rule. OK, I agree for a moment. But will they, who have occupied KP properties or sold illegally KP properties ever wish for their return? Aren’t those people getting patronage from all the political parties? And what is the Guarantee that 1990 will not be repeated if KP’s opt to return back? Majority community en-masse created an environment that forced us to flee. Will there be ever any mass rally that will call for the returns of the KP’s back to the valley?” He fired questions at me. I had no answers. “I have struggled a lot to reach, where I am today. That is why I don’t want to think about Kashmir.” He said with a sigh. His phone rang again, he looked at his Mobile, then at me, I sensed that it was an urgent call. “Attend your call.I will wait”, said I. He went outside the room again. I started thinking about my last encounter with Sanjay.

I knew Sanjay since we were children. Dileep was his relative. In early April 1990, Sanjay was persuaded by his mother to leave for Jammu. He was told by his mother to attend a wedding at Jammu. Underneath the persuasion of his mother was the concern of his safety . Kashmir was a cauldron in 1990. Hindus were branded as infidels or informers and then hunted dead by the militants with impunity. Like every other Kashmiri Hindu, Sanjay’s mother too wanted to keep away her children from the trouble. Sanjay went to the Jammu in the first week of April 1990 on the behest of his mother.

When I had met Sanjay 3-4 months back, I asked him about his ordeal.“I was in Jammu in early April 1990, to attend a wedding. Though Jammu was calm, I knew Kashmir was not. I used to wait eagerly for the news from any source. Be it newspapers in the morning or radio or T.V. in the evenings. The news was disappointing and disheartening. Everyday, I used to listen that a K.P was killed in one locality or other. And then one late evening I got a call from my mother. She told me that my father is on the hit list of the Militants for being a “Mukhbir”(informer).I boarded the Bus to Srinagar early next day morning to help my family,. I reached my home in karfaol mohalla by night. My father was visibly shaken by the threat. He had not ventured outside his home for a week, not even to buy his cigarette. Instead, my younger brother used to buy tobacco and father used an old Hubble-Bubble to smoke.” I was listening to him with attention. “The killing of Satish Tickoo was still fresh in our mind. After all, he was the son of our landlord. Hence, we had taken the threat with seriousness. we were living like frightened pigeons” He asserted.

“We wanted to leave Kashmir ASAP. Every other day, a Kashmiri pandit was gunned down mercilessly by the militants. KP’s were framed by the militants and no-one would dare to challenge their Jihadi-gag-order. My father was a School master. He was a simple and a non-political man. Yet he was framed. I knew dozens of KP’s who were framed as informers. In fact each and every KP family had a member that was framed for being an informer. What was the message they were trying to convey?” he asked me. He took a deep puff of cigarette, inhaled it, rounded his mouth and blew the smoke in rings. Instead of answering, I was just looking at him . And then he said in a choking voice, “the message was clear that they don’t want a KP there- simple”

“How did you fled from Kashmir?” I asked him. He said, “Immediately, after I reached back to Kashmir, I starting looking for a truck to carry us and our belongings to jammu. After a couple of days, with the help of my KP neighbors, I arranged a Truck. My sister and his family were staying in Fateh-Kadal those days. The night , when we were fleeing Kashmir, I, Daleep and his cousin carried our belongings on our backs and travelled on foot from karfal mohalla to Fateh-Kadal in the midst of night. The Muslim ladies who saw us leaving en-route with our belongings, hurled philippics at us. The invectives and their curses are still fresh in my mind. A couple of ladies, out of hatred for our community, even spitted on us from their first-floor-windows. But, we did not stop. There were five more KP families with us in the truck. we had a sigh of relief upon reaching Jammu”. His face was visibly angry as he was recalling the incident.

“Jan 1990 invokes fear, anarchy ,mobocracy, A.K 47’s, shrilled tones of the loudspeakers of the neighborhood mosques. cold-blooded murders of KP’s. Burning schools. Burning houses .Burning bridges. Burning tyres. Stoning of tin-rooftops of our houses in the middle of night. And an idiosyncratic resentment and hate towards my community” said infuriated Sanjay .I too had experienced the same. Every KP had experienced the same.

By now Dileep came back. After discussing some personal issues, I asked for his permission to leave. I stood up and moved towards the door. As I was leaving, he said, “ It was 28 April 1990, 2.00a.m in the morning, when I fled from Kashmir. I want to forget it all. But Somehow, I can’t”

I know for sure, not a single KP has forgotten Kashmir. The aftermath of the clear, cold night of 19 jan 1990 still haunts the community of KP’s. The slogans raised by a large section of Kashmiri Muslims like “Asa gach Pakistan, Batao ros te batnav saan”(we want Pakistan with KP women and without KP men) clearly reflected their state of mind, and the ghouls reigning their mind and conscience in the 90’s. The prolonged time away from their homeland has in fact made KP’s return to Kashmir difficult. If The aftermath of 1990 intensified the anti-India emotion among the Kashmiri Muslim youth, It also created an abyss between the valley of Kashmir and the Kashmiri Pandits, depriving them to return, to the land of their ancestors even after 24 years.

Year after Year, more and more people like Dalip opine that they will not return to Kashmir now, because for them, professionally, there is nothing they can do in Kashmir. Still, there are many who wish for their return everyday. But, I fear that nothing will change if the State Gov. and GOI doesn’t make a roadmap for the return of KP’s exactly the same way, as desired by the KP’s as a community.

But will they?

tragedy and humour of being a KP

March 2003.It was a sunny bright day. My Enfield-Bullet bike was in a dire need of a proper service. I took my bike to the local mechanic-Akram in Ghaziabad. As he was inspecting my Bike, an Ambassador car halted in front of me. The glass windows of the car rolled down. I saw an elderly Sikh in an orange dress. He called on me , “ where is this Agarsen Chowk?”.I came closer to the car, gesticulated, and said, “ turn straight and then turn right from the first crossing.” “What is your name?” The turbaned old man asked me abruptly. “My name is sandeep Koul” said I. “Oh! You are a Kashmiri Pandit! Come in my car.” He said excitedly. I was irked by what he said. I hardly knew him and here he was, urging me to accompany him. It looked as if he read my face. He pulled the wallet from his coat, opened it, looked for something and finally picked a card which he handed over to me. “Here! Take my card. My name is B.L.Sharma- “prem”. I am a former MP from BJP.”I looked at the card in my hand. It was white and green in colour and had an emblem of four lions(as seen in Indian currency coins) at the top. The name written on it was indeed B.L.Sharma “prem”(Member of parliament).

I was exited now. For the first time, I was face-to-face speaking to an M.P. with alacrity, I sat besides him in his ambassador. “We have a rally today at Ghaziabad. It seems our local team of Ghaziabad and I are talking on different tracks. There is some miscommunication and we are not able to track each other. Though, they are somewhere nearby. You please talk to them, since you know this place”, he said to me. He dialed some number from his mobile and handed over the phone to me. The voice from the other side in a gushed tone said, “ Sharmaji, where are you?” I answered back, “I am sandeep. We are on NH-24, Near Rahul Vihar. The person on the other side said, “You wait there. we will reach there within 5 minutes.”

Sharmaji told me briefly about his life, his family and his mission. The 1947 partition. He told me that to protect the Hindus, he has embraced Sikhism. At that time, the chief-minister of J&K was Mr.Gulam nabi Azad. He also expressed his views on Him, Hindus of Jammu and as well as Kashmiri Pandits. Soon, his local team traced us.

The local-team were all motor-cyclists. There were at least 20 motor bikes. Each bike carrying two persons. Many of them had Swords in their hands, which they waved at us and at each other with enthusiasm .A person came close to the window of our car. He said to Sharmaji, “Please follow us. we are nearby to the venue of the program. Sharmaji nodded his head in approval and said, “Alright. By the way he is Sandeep koulji. He is an uprooted hindu from Kashmir”, as he pointed towards me. The person’s faced beamed with glee as he said, “ Sandeeji, welcome. you please attend our program.”I did not wanted to attend, as politics was not my cup of tea. But on the behest of Sharmaji, I agreed.

Soon, we reached “Agarsen-chowk”-our venue. Hundreds of supporters had already gathered there. As the crowd saw us, they raised their hands in the air and chanted loud, “Jai shri Ram”, “Bharat Mata ki jai”.I alighted from the car. Sharmaji too followed me. With folded hands(namaskar), he greeted the crowd. Many people rushed towards him and touched his feet in reverence. Many people mistook me for some leader and touched my feet too. Sharmaji was used to this treatment but I was not. I was blushing, feeling embarrassed. I tried to gently push away the crowd, touching my feet.

Sharmaji went up to the podium. I sat down on a chair. But the associates of Sharmaji insisted me to sit on the podium alongside Sharmaji. Before the actual program started, An announcer announced about the program. He spoke about many issues pertaining to Hindus. At last he said, “Today, a special guest has come with Sharmaji .A kashmiri pandit refugee from Kashmir.I request my colleagues to felicitate both of them.”A line of his associates garlanded Sharmaji and me. Though, I had started enjoying the attention, But, Clearly I was not prepared for this impromptu.

Soon, Many speakers spoke in length about the infiltration on the Hindu culture. Examples were cited from the history. Many tales of the 1947 genocide were told poignantly. The mass-exodus of Kashmiri pundits was also cited. “See, how pathetic, the lives of Kashmiri Pandits have become. You can ask our Kashmiri pandit brother here. ”a speaker said. And everybody spoke about Kashmiri Hindus .Each time, Kashmiri Hindus were spoken of, a finger was pointed towards me. Frankly speaking, I was feeling as if I am a culprit.

A member of the organizing team came up to me and said in a low-voice, “you too say something. It will have a very good impact on the listeners.” Their- pointing- fingers –at- me had already made me feel guilty. An object that is loathsome-yet important(this holds true even today). So, I humbly turned down his offer. I went up to Sharmaji and took his permission to leave. He told me to be in touch with him and gave me his mobile number.

I was in touch with him for some time. He even introduced me to some people. Out of those people, I am still in touch with few , even today. I somehow lost the number of Sharmaji some years back. But, whenever, I recall that incident, I end up with a Grin. And I am reminded that indeed, “Tragedy is the biggest comedy.”

The tenants and the landlords(exodus of KP’s)

Naveen-my friend had shifted to a new rented house at shakti nagar, jammu. His mother while making tea for us in the make-shift kitchen said one day to me in presence of Naveen, “see how, we are living here in this one room. Our cow-shed was four times the size of this room. May the curse of Gods befell on all those terrorists who pushed us to this state of wretchedness. May the pall of gloom befell upon them.”I had heard it before, from many of our elders. This reflected the state of helplessness of the whole community during the 90’s.The exodus of Kashmiri pundits though trampled their identity and pushed them to the brink of extinction , On the other side, the miseries and the compromise with their fate made them adept in the art of survival.

My friend Naveen shifted to Jammu in the last week of jan 1990.His family stayed with their relative for some days/weeks and later on they shifted to a migrant camp at talab tiloo. There were at least four families staying in one hall which was roughly 500 sq. feet. Each family had made some arrangements to guard their privacy. He and his neighbors had drawn boundaries ingeniously cost-effective. A rope was tied from one end to another of the hall both lengthwise and breadth wise. An Indian saree or a blanket or a bed-sheet was tied or folded over to those ropes, thus each family making an own private compartment. Each family had a tin-trunk. The trunk housed their meager belongings and clothes. This trunk was also used as a study table by the students such as my friend Naveen.

When Naveen’s father saved/arranged some money, he decided to take a rented room at Shakti nagar, Jammu. Naveen volunteered to find a room. After some days of search, he finally found a room that fitted their budget. His father was a Govt. School teacher back at Kashmir . Naveen’s family consisted of his parents, a younger brother and an elder sister whom they had married off just a year back in Kashmir. And then a day came, when they shifted to their new house or should I say that newly-rented-room. His friends including me helped him to shift to his new room. It did not take us long to unwind their belongings and keep them at their proper places as directed by his mother. His family insisted us all to have a lunch with them at their new house.

In Kashmir, Very few families used a fridge as a household appliance. It was a luxury item rather than a necessity. On the contrary, a fridge was an absolute must in jammu. Naveen’s mother used to heat-up the left-over dishes at least three or four times a day in order to keep the dishes hygienically edible. A fridge was out of their reach.

The new weather conditions were alien to most of the KP’s. By mid-april, temperature began to rise drastically .KP’s had no experience in dealing with the heat of that magnitude . By early May,To beat the heat, Naveen, his younger brother and their parents bathed at least thrice a day. This created a bad blood between them and their landlord Jagdish.

Jagdish was an Auto-Driver. He had somehow built a 2BHK house on roughly a 4 marla land(roughly 100 sq. yards), The washrooms(a bathroom and a latrine) were built separately outside the main building(but inside the main compound wall).His family consisted of his wife and two children. Though, he did not interact much with Naveen’s family, except, when he had to take the rent from them, But His frequent brawls with his wife almost every night had made Naveen and his family believe that he was a dipsomaniac rogue.

In a way, Jagdish was right. The 500 litre overhead water tank was too small to last the whole day keeping in view the usage of water by the two families especially Naveen’s. So one day, when jagdish threatened them to leave his house over the water-issue, Naveen’s family thought of an alternative.

After the incident, The next day, Naveen, his younger brother and their father headed towards the famous “Nehar”(the canal of Chenab with ice-cold water).That day they took a bath in the morning, at evening and at night in the same “nehar” with alacrity. Naveen was looking out for a rented room again, and I was helping him in his endeavor, as I lived close by at Talab-tiloo, just across the canal.

By early july, Naveen shortlisted another house, just 50 meters from the “Nehar”. The house owner, Mr.Gupta, was a Govt. employee. This time they rented one room but with a separate kitchen. The room was bigger than the previous one, and it had two water-tanks. One underground and one over-head tank. This time also I and a couple of my friends volunteered to help them in their shifting. Mr. Gupta’s son “Rinku” was as old as Naveen and hence he befriended Naveen and his younger brother quickly.

During the monsoons, with the rise of Humidity, skin rashes and infections were rampant. Almost all KP’s including me and the family of Naveen had no clue how to deal with it. Satish, the elder cousin of Naveen during that monsoon season one fine day said to us “Take a bath in the canal with a “lifebuoy” soap .All skin rashes will go away. I have tried it on myself and it worked like a charm”. We all tried it at once. In fact I too spread this secret advice with my friends. The effectiveness of that remedy is a matter of research to this day.

Naveen stayed in Mr. Gupta’s house for a year or so. It so happened that Mr. Gupta raised their rent by a couple of hundred rupees, which Naveen’s father thought was unfairly steep. when He protested, Mr. Gupta said to him,” I don’t have any enmity with you. In fact I have raised the rent of Mr.Bhat also. It is because you are living here from past one year, and you are a good man, I am only raising the rent by Rs200.Otherwise the room-set you are occupying is worth more.” In the evening their co-tenant Mr.Bhat confirmed Mr. Gupta’s statement as true, and was quick to say,” It is a cumbersome job to hunt for a house again, During my one and a half years stay in jammu as a migrant, this is my third house, I have become familiar to this area, It will be a mental and emotional challenge to settle at a new house in a new area”.Naveen was a witness to the dialogue between his father and their co-tenant. Before retiring for the bed, Mr. Bhat said to his father, “Give him what he wants, you never know , how your new landlord will be, in case you opt to shift.”After a lot of deliberation, Naveen’s father decided to stay put at the Gupta’s house.

I am not sure, whether this move made Naveen’s Dad to take up tuitions or was it pre-meditated before the “rent-rise incident”. Anyways, Tuitions helped the family monetarily to an extent. Naveen’s family purchased a fridge as well as a colour TV after some months. As it happened, Naveen and his family stayed cordially with the Gupta’s for 5 long years. Naveen once said to me years later, “Guptajee knows almost all of our relatives, In fact, sometimes he visits our relatives on his own without informing us”.

I don’t know what happened to Naveen and his family in between 1997 till 2012 as I lost touch with him. Somewhere in 2012, I got a call from Naveen. He told me that he is working in Mumbai.His younger brother is working as a Govt. employee in Jammu with department of agriculture. And that he has purchased a Flat in Mumbai and his brother has built a two and a half storied house in Mutthi,Jammu. After he hung up the phone, for strange reasons, some lingering thoughts took me back to 1990, when they were living in Talab-tiloo migrant camp hall of 500sq feet area, with three other families.And I must confess that The sarees, blankets and bed-sheets as their boundaries to safeguard their privacy will have an everlasting impression on my mind….

Kashmir Minorities conversation

It just happened that a few days Back, I met my childhood friend Aashiq at cannaught place, New Delhi. Ashiq is the son of a “shia pir”(sort of Oracle) and lives in the Dal-Lake area of Kashmir. Even though, he came from a poor family, he has managed to do well for himself and is presently working as a Govt. employee in J&K. He was being accompanied by another friend of his “Harmeet”-a Kashmiri Sikh. We headed towards the coffee shop nearby.

We talked about our childhood and that fun. We talked about our boat rides.swimming. Our hiking expeditions and Zabarwan. Our discussions veered towards the present situation in Kashmir viz-a-viz the socio-economic life of the minorities of Kashmir. Harjeet said, “Sikhs of kashmiri were mostly well-off. We are a peaceful community just as pundits and are generally seen as innocuous and gentle humans.”He added, “With the advent of so-called-jihad, we are tacitly subjugated by the majority sunni community. Many of the sikh girls had been lured by the Sunnis on the pretext of love and marriage. And their religion changed after wedding.” Harjeet paused for a moment and said, ”Many of our youths are side-tracked in govt. jobs in spite of good education and capabilities. We know we are being treated as second-hand citizens. we are ready for the impending doom for being a minority of Kashmir. Most of us have brought houses and lands outside Kashmir. We know, our fate can be that of Kashmiri Pandits- who were forced to flee.”

Shahid was quietly listening. I asked him about his opinion on the plight of Shias in Kashmir. He said, “Whatever is happening in Pakistan is bound to be repeated in Kashmir.” His statement reminded of his cousin Shabbir. It was in late-eighties when a sectarian clash broke between shias and sunnis. Shabbir was one such victim of Sunni hegemony. That fateful day, he was at the wrong place at wrong time. Somebody in the crowd had pointed finger towards him and shouted, “He is a Khudd(a derogatory word used for shia-muslims in Kashmir).” He was stripped of his clothes by the crowd that constituted the majority community of sunnis. He was forced to run stark-naked towards his home in the Dal-Lake area. While he was being humiliated, many people in the crowd were cheering and galvanizing the mob to do more such shameful acts.

“We do not support Pakistan. The support to Azadi is because of our compulsion. Even though shia militant-groups were formed by our community, but they hardly participated. It was a gesture to show that we support them. We did not wanted to be conspicuous by not supporting them. Even though we did not really supported them.”said Shahid as he further added, “You can ask any Kashmiri Pandit, who are living in shia-dominated areas in Kashmir. They are the safest in our areas.” I knew it already, Many Kashmiri pundits stay put in their villages that were shia-dominated even when militancy was at its peak.

Harjeet intercepted Jokingly, “ Sunnis consider them as untouchables and untrustworthy”. Shahid nodded his head in approval and said, “we are ready to fight with them with our fists or with bullets.” With a whiff of anger. He said further, “we will fight back” with a determined tone. “when a sunni is killed by armed forced for whatever reason, they come on streets to protest. And if a shia is killed, not a brow is raised.” said shahid.

I was getting late as I had an appointment. But before that, I asked them about Kashmiri Pandits. Harjeet said , “Had you stayed back in Kashmir, you would have faced more ignominy and collateral damage in terms of life and the honour of KP ladies.” Shahid also approved as he said, “The general feeling is that you will never come back again”. He gesticulated as he said, “ And they will make sure that you don’t come back again.”

I took their permission and left them alone in the cafeteria. The last lines of Shahid were reverberating in my mind, “And they will make sure that you don’t come back again”. But I have pinned hope against hope that I will return someday, sometime. But I will return for sure….

Saving my Rakhi Brother-2nd and last part

Soon after Ashok and his family left for Jammu, many more Kashmiri Pandits followed their footsteps. By the Mid-spring most of my KP neighbors had left for an alien land. “Raina’s” and “Dhar’s” had gone, so had “Saproo’s” , “Tickoo’s” and “Bhat’s”.My family and the “saraf’s” were the only KP family left in our neighborhood. Most of the time I and my family members were confined indoors because of the activities of the militants and also because Army was patrolling our area almost 24*7. The peal of the neighborhood temple Bell too was silent.

Hamida was still visiting me, though not that frequently. Her wits were still alive, but I could feel something amiss in her normal behavior. One fine day, I asked her , “Hamida, from last few days, I am feeling as if you are not your usual self. Is everything O.k?” She nodded her head in disapproval and said, “Nothing! I am just fine.”, and looked straight in my eyes. Then something happened. She held my hand and pulled me up from the Sofa. “come to the next room, I want to tell you something” she said. Ever since she had told me about the incidence of Ashok; I took every word of her seriously. And then she whispered, “Everything is not fine Didda, things are becoming worse and I doubt It will get only worst. Shabbir, my brother, has advised me not to meet you or any other KP for that matter.” I asked, “But why?”. “Read between the lines, Didda. You are my dear friend and I don’t want anybody to harm you or your family. I think you too should move out of the valley for the time being” said she in a pensive mood. And she left immediately after that. I never saw her after that.

I had to get curd from the “Ismail goor”(Ismail-the milkman).His shop was hardly 100 meters away from my house. I was thinking about my last interaction with Hamida. It was around noon. Ismail’s son Khalid was rolling down the shutters of his shop. I said to him, “ Don’t roll down the shutters, first give me half a Kg of curd.”He said in a rude tone, “Didda, go back to your home quickly.”And looked at me. His looks were threatening. I almost ran back to my house.I was angry at Khalid. My late father had taught him to read and write. He had given him free tuitions and helped him to secure a Govt. Job. He was like a family member to us all. During all these years he had never ever misbehaved with me.

As, I was thinking about the incidence, I heard a loud deafening explosion outside. I ran out to see what happened! I could only see dust and smoke at a distance .My younger brother Ramesh was running from the opposite direction. He held my hand firmly and almost dragged me back to our house. Without my asking, he said, “A bomb exploded just near “Ismail Goor’s” Shop. I was bewildered and scared.

By the evening, everything was normal. I still hadn’t bought curd. I was someone, who would not eat a meal without curd. I went again to the shop of Ismail. The shutters were still down. I decided to go to Ismail’s house and get the curd. His house was just 50 meters away from my house and I had gone there “N” number of times. He had a cowshed at the ground floor of his house and I directly went inside the shed. I shouted “Khalid, Ismailsaab, are you there?”. Khalid quickly came from nowhere. Anger was written all over his face. He pushed me back as he said, “ you mad girl ! what are you doing here. Get out of here.” Even during this commotion, I clearly saw at least 6 strange faces, ducked in between the bovines. It looked as if they were in a hiding. I came back disappointed. During night, I could not sleep for a long time. I was thinking about Hamida, Khalid and the bomb blast.

It was a moonlit night. And Sleep was still miles away. I opened the window of my room .My room was on the first floor and the windows opened towards the compound. The compound was flanked on two sides by our neighbor’s houses . There was an eight foot high by two feet wide wall securing our compound just opposite my room. The roof of compound wall was covered with slanting tin sheets, so that the snow will not accumulate on the top and will fall down smoothly. A cool breeze was blowing outside. The moon looked stunning. I was about to close the window when an image appeared behind the compound wall. I was scared. I hid myself, but I was still peeping outside the window. He was standing on the wall. I could see him clearly. He was a tall guy about 6 feet. He looked more like an Afgani than a Kashmiri. He was talking to someone on the other side of the wall, whom I could not see. I could hear him clearly . He was speaking Afgani or pushto or any other language but Kashmiri. I was scared to death and was sure that they had come to kidnap me.

Suddenly, someone started stoning my house as well as the compound wall. The sound was piercing the silence of the night and was enough to jolt the whole neighborhood and wake them up from their deep sleep. The stoning also alerted the army men outside the street. I could hear the trample of the boots of the armymen. The intruder too got confused and jumped back to the street. I had a sigh of relief.

Next morning, as I was passing by the shop of “Ismail Goor”, I spotted Khalid sitting in his shop. I was angry at him and tried to ignore him. “Didda, come here”, he said. Though I wanted to avoid him, but I still went up to him. He spoke to me in a cautious low voice. “I have been trying to caution you and your family. I cautioned you before the bomb explosion. I wanted you to go out of the cow-shed yesterday as they(militants) were hiding there and could have harmed you. And It was I Didda who stoned your house yesterday to raise an alarm against those Afganis. I am sorry, I could not inform you earlier as I too fear for my and my family’s life. I beg you to leave this place as soon as possible, for your safety and honor. Now leave this place and act as if nothing has happened. You too are under the surveillance of Militants.”I composed my calm, bought my last curd in Kashmir and went back to my house.

I narrated everything to my Brothers and my mother. We all decided to leave ASAP and come back once the things settle. A taxi was arranged by my Brothers. We only took some clothes and some important papers with us. By 7.00p.m we were at Jammu. We went to our Uncle’s place in Talab tiloo, jammu.

23 years have passed by. The return is still elusive. Who would have thought that KP’s as a community will be scattered emotionally and physically all over the Globe. Who would have thought, the alien land will become so familiar that our own motherland Kashmir will look like an stranger to us. But It has happened.

somebody has rightly said “Truth is stranger than fiction”….

Narrated by-Mrs. Seema Kaul(Didda)

Saving my Rakhi Brother(1990)

1990, when jihadi hooliganism was at its peak, My childhood friend and next-door neighbor, Hamida, came to my home late evening. She looked happy and cheerful as always. There was only one discussion that people were interested in, during those turbulent times-Militancy and Militants. Hamida was no exception. She was in privy of the sources/ militants that were carrying the execution orders of the Hindu minorities on the behest of their Pakistani masters sitting across the border. She was in fact proud of her association with the Militants.

“I want to share something with you!” she said to me eagerly. “OK, Tell me”, I said casually.”No, not here, let us go upstairs or into the next room. It is very confidential”. Now, my curiosity was aroused. I said “OK, Let us go upstairs”. We both went upstairs to “Kainee”(parapet/ top most floor of the house). She was bubbling with energy as she said,” Tomorrow morning, It is the turn of Ashok. He will be shot dead by the militants tomorrow. Don’t tell this to anybody ever. I am sharing this with you as you are my friend”. My heart sank, but I composed myself quickly and said, “Let them kill him. He deserves it.” She said, “ Wow! I love militants. Let the pundits who are leaving every day for jammu leave, but you stay here. Don’t you worry. Nothing will ever happen to you or your family.” I smiled back at her.” Militants are only killing Indian agents and informers” she said. I nodded my head.

I wanted to tell her, “No! militants are killing Kashmiri Pandits for no reason. I wanted to tell her that militants are killing for the sake of jihad. For fame. For money. For power. For self-importance. For their desires and lust”. But, I could not muster courage. I wanted to tell her that it is the anti-Hindu sentiment that is being fanned by the maulvis of the Mosques by using Islamic terminologies to galvanize the common Muslims, and kill the hindus with impunity and without compunction. I wanted to tell her,” No, There is no bravery and holiness in killing hapless, unarmed innocent Pandits”. But I remained quite. After all, I too wanted to live.

Hamida would not leave me alone that evening for a moment, Though I wanted her to go back, so that I could run into Ashok’s house and inform him about his assassination plans by militants. Ashok was a neighbor and a friend of my brother. He was like my elder brother and I used to tie a “Rakhi” to him every year. Even the thought of getting him killed was suffocating me. But that day Hamida was in no hurry to go back to her home. I wanted to get rid of her so desperately that day. But It looked as if she had other plans. She was chattering incessantly and I was nodding my head in approval cursorily, I was in fact thinking hard, to somehow convey the insidious killing plot of militants to Ashok.

Finally, I came up with a plan. I said to her, “ Hamida, I just realized that I had to call up my relatives in Jammu.” She asked, “ which ones? “. I said, “My maternal uncle. They too fled for Jammu few days back.” “Oh! I see. OK, by the time you will call your uncle, I will buy curd from Ismail Goor”. Ismail Goor, The milkman’s shop was located just opposite to Ashok’s house. I could not go to his house in front of Hamida as that could raise suspicion. My mind was over-working, but I still said,” OK, Let us go”.

During those days, Telephone was a status-symbol and not everybody had the privilege of having a Phone at home. Ashok was a Govt. employee working with the telecom department and was thus in possession of a telephone connection. Adjacent to the Ashok’s house were “Dhar’s” and next to “Dhars” were “Raina’s”. “Raina’s” too had a telephone connection at their home.

We reached too quickly at “Ismail Goor’s” shop.I said to Hamida, “ I will go to Rainas and make a call. You wait for me here.” She said,” alright”. I went towards “Raina’s” house. Before stepping into their house, I turned back. Hamida was staring at me from the milkman’s shop. I quickly went inside the compound of the “Raina’s” and scaled the wall to reach into the compound of “Dhar’s”. I scaled the wall flanking Dhar’s and Ashok’s house and jumped with a “thud” into the compound of Ashok. My knees were aching because of the impact of the jump. But I had no time for small physical pains. The back door of Ashok’s house was ajar.I went inside. Ashok was sitting right there in his Drawing-room. I hugged him and tears rolled down from my cheeks. He was perplexed.”What happened Didda?”he jerked me. I said, “ Leave this place as soon as possible. Militants are planning to kill you.”I told him briefly about my encounter with Hamida and her confidential report. By that time, his wife and brother Satish also came. His wife Dolly too began to cry upon knowing the incident. Ashok and Satish consoled us both and they both thanked me for the information. “I need to go back quickly as Hamida is waiting for me and can suspect something fishy if I take too long.”I said to them. Both Ashok and Satish helped me to scale the compound wall and Very soon I landed in “Dhar’s” compound and finally into the compound of the “Raina’s”. As, I opened the main compound door, that opened into the main street, I was shocked to see Hamida standing in front of the door.”Why did you take so long?” said she. “Line was coming busy. I had to try 50 times, before I could connect to my Uncle.”I said. “Oh! I see” she said casually and quickly added, “I have bought video movie cassettes from Shabbir, We will watch them at your home, since you have a VCP”. I said with a sigh of relief, “ OK. Fine.”That night, we watched couple of movies. She stayed overnight at my home.

Next morning, she went back to her home. I thought, let me check whether Ashok had left or not. As, I was about to leave, Hamida came back. she was panting. I gave her a puzzled look. She said incoherently, “ Ashok has fled”. I said “What! I couldn’t get you”. She put her hand on her chest and said slowly and clearly,” Ashok too has left like other pundits “. I said ,” Oh! I see”. She said, “Lucky guy! The militants fired at the locks also suspecting him to be hiding inside. But they found all his family had fled. Not even their neighbors knew, when they fled,”. I gave her a lugubrious look. I was happy inside and thanked God for saving the life of Ashok-My Rakhi Brother.
narrated by-Mrs. Seema kaul

“Take my Kangir..”

My friend Raj was/is an extravert. One day, late evening, in the month of Dec 1988, we went to meet our friend at “Karapora Khuski”, Rainawari. we were both wearing our winter dress i.e woolens and a “Pheran” minus “the Kangir(firepot used for the warmth in winters and usually tucked under the Kashmiri long coat “Pheran”)”. We were accosted by our friend Rehman on our way. And the conversation started. Rehman was an ardent fan of Pakistan and Pakistani cricket team. we were the aficionados of Indian Cricket team and core Indians by heart. Raj was an eloquent speaker with a stentorian voice and a master of twisting the words. He would usually win all the debates with his reasoning as well as his oratory.

The conversation started with the military power of India and Pakistan. Rehman emphatically said, “India is no match for Pakistan and can win a war anytime.” Raj retorted “That is why Pakistan lost all the wars with India”. Rehman replied,” Pakistan lost because USA supplied spurious ammunition to Pakistan. They backstabbed Pakistan.” Raj said, “C’mon, don’t fool yourself, Pakistan can not even manufacture a needle, And you are talking about Guns and Bombs. India is far ahead of Pakistan in terms of technology.”Rehman was fumbling for words and reasons. And he was visibly upset.

It was too cold , Raj casually asked Rehman if he could lend him his “Kangir” for the warmth, for some time .Rehman said with a tone of irritation ,” No, Why should I give you! Get your own Kangir- you Bhatta”. In the meanwhile, another friend Vikas joined our conversation. He said cheerfully to all of us,” Hello friends! What is up?” Rehman replied, “just usual”.

Raj nudged me in the ribs. I looked at him. He said to me in a whisper, “ See, how Rehman will share his Kangir with me, without my asking.”And he rejoined the conversation.

To get the attention of everyone Raj said loudly, “ One thing is sure, India will not be able to defeat Pakistan in the cricket match”. Rehman’s facial expressions changed suddenly from the gloomy to that of an exuberant guy. He said, “Raj you are absolutely right. Imran Khan is the best bowler and Javed miandad is the best Batsman of the world. The psyche of the entire Indian team shakes with fear whenever they hear of Pakistan. The ghost of the last ball sixer of Miandad will ever haunt the Indian cricket team.” Raj quickly said, “ you forgot Wasim Akram. His ball moves faster than a bullet. And just look at the personality of the Pakistani cricketers. Indian girls are crazy about them. Reena roy left the film industry for the sake of getting married to Mohsin Khan. They are the best.”

Rehman was on cloud nine. And suddenly he said to Raj ebulliently, “Brother, here, take my Kangir. Do you want something to eat.” Raj took the “Kangir” and tucked it under his Pheran. He winked at me. I too could not hold my smile.