How Does Kashmir Feel About The Return Of Kashmiri Pandits?

By Asiya Raheem

Many Kashmiris reminiscence that the period in which Kashmir Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits lived together in harmony was a golden era. Our younger generation has been brought up hearing stories about how Muslims and Pandits shared each other’s joys and sorrows. How they were always there for each other in times of need and how they lived together as one happy family. Kashmir has lost much to the conflict and the saddest and the biggest loss has perhaps been the loss of harmony and unity between the two communities. Twenty six years after the Kashmir Pandits abandoned their homes and their land, a ray of home for their return has emerged. While the Muslim community has always maintained that the Kashmiri Pandits should return to their homes and live among them like they did before, a few of them are a bit apprehensive about their return. However the majority of the community has always wished to see the same peace, harmony and brotherhood return to Kashmir as used to be there in the pre-nineties. What would life be like if the Kashmiri Pandits do choose to return? How will their return change their lives as well as the lives of their Muslim brethren? How do Kashmiri people feel about their return? Team KO asks. Read on to find out what a few people have to say.

Amir Ahmad
We think of them as our brothers, and an integral part of our community. They are welcome to claim their lands, their properties and most importantly their identities. We are eagerly waiting for them to return. Kashmiri Pandits are a part of Kashmiriyat. They always have been and always will be.
—— Amir Ahmad , Private Employee
Talib Ahmad
Kashmiri Pandits should feel safe to come back and live here. The situation here might not always be calm and peaceful but they should rest assured that we will never let them come in harm’s way. Most of them have their businesses here but they unfortunately don’t live here. It is time they came back home.
—— Talib Ahmad , Dental Surgeon
Mohammad Jamsheed
Most Kashmiris agree that Kashmiri Pandits should return back to their homes. They should come back and start living here with us like they used to in the nineties. We will welcome them with open arms.
—— Mohammad Jamsheed , Businessman
Muneer Ahmad
I have always heard my parents praising Kashmiri Pandits for their intelligence and humble nature. My parents say that all credit for their education goes to their Pandit teachers. My dad still has many Kashmiri Pandit friends who live in Jammu. They are still in contact with us. I will be the happiest if our family friends and other displaced Pandits return to their motherland.
—— Muneer Ahmad , Contractor
Khalid Khan
If the Kashmiri Pandits choose to return, every Kashmiri will welcome them with open arms. People will be very happy to see them living in their homes once again. They should come and live with us like they did twenty six years ago.
—— Khalid Khan , Journalist
Mudasir Ahmed
Kashmiri Pandits should return with dignity and honour. They should live with their Muslim brothers like they did before. This will help revive peace and brotherhood in the valley. Asking them to live in separate colonies will do more harm than good. Such policies will only widen the gap between the two communities rather than bridge it.
—— Mudasir Ahmed, Teacher
Mohammad Firdous
They should come back and live in their ancestral houses. Our Kashmir is incomplete without Kashmiri Pandits. They have as much right to live in their own land as any other citizen has. Incessant reiterations from various fronts demanding rights for their rehabilitation only demonizes the sanctity of equity. 
—— Mohammad Firdous, PhD Scholar
Rayees Lone
Kashmiri Pandits should come and live with their Muslims brothers. The question about whether or not they should return doesn’t even exist. This land is as much theirs as it is ours. They should have returned much earlier.
—— Rayees Lone, Layout Designer
Jahangir Amin
Kashmir without Kashmiri Pandits is incomplete. I long for the era when we will all live together in harmony like we did in the past. They should come back. Kashmir is their homeland, their identity. They shouldn’t abandon it forever.
—— Jahangir Amin, Private Employee
Sajad Dar
In the past we would celebrate each other’s festivals together. We would share joys and sorrows. We would be there for each other in times of need. But none of that remains now. It is my humble request to all my Pandits brothers that they should return to their valley, their homes and to their Muslim brothers, who miss them every single day.
—— Sajad Dar , Govt. Employee
If the Pandits choose to return, people all over Kashmir will open their homes to them. We will let them stay with us, eat with us and share our joys and sorrows like they used to. They don’t need to live in separate colonies. Families don’t live apart. They live together. Kashmiri Pandits are a part of our family so, they shouldn’t live separately.
—— Malik Saliq , Businessman
I have been teaching in a school owned by a Kashmiri Pandit from last 15 years. He has been serving the society selflessly from past many years. This valley belongs to them as much as it belongs to us. They should come back to live in their homes.
—— Nusrat Shafi , Teacher
I fear that if they do come back and God forbid something happens, they will end up blaming their Muslim brothers like they do for their exodus. They should learn to separate the enemy from the friend. We don’t bear them any ill will.
—— Rafi Wakil , Private Employee
They have already built their lives in other places. They have sold off their properties and are living happily outside Kashmir. Asking them to return will mean asking them to uproot their lives again. I don’t think it will be wise to ask them to leave their lives behind.
—— Salim Dawood, PG Student

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