Kashmir’s ‘Go-To Chemist’ Remembered For His ‘Crisis-Management’

Son of ML Bindroo performing his last rites. KO Photos by Abid Bhat.

“He was loved by all for his humility and humanity. It was because of his kind and compassionate character that he became one of the most loved chemists in Kashmir.”  

HOURS after his father was fatally shot at his Srinagar drugstore, Dr. Siddharth Bindroo sat calm and composed in his Indira Nagar residence.

Swarmed by mourners of all faiths, the son of the slain chemist recalled how his father became the ‘people’s pharmacist’ with his humane handling of some harshest times.

Growing up, Siddharth said, his family was of the opinion that their father, Makhan Lal Bindroo, was some kind of a politician, as he would be always swarmed by people.

“He was loved by all for his humility and humanity,” Dr. Siddharth said.

“It was because of his kind and compassionate character that he became one of the most loved and go-to chemists in Kashmir.”

Amid tributes and tears, the mourners—the majority of whom: Muslims—passed through the metal detectors guarded by the alert sentries. They wore mournful faces—some sobbing akin to inconsolable kids.

Making their way into the pitched tent, the masked mourners recount their interactions with the fallen chemist and talked high about his life.

Last night when the news of ML Bindroo’s killing spread, it came as a blow to many. While politicians univocally condemned the killing, many Kashmiris recalled the deceased’s community compassion and expressed sympathies with his family. Some even recalled his ‘pro-people’ conduct to help the poor and the needy.

“He was a household pharmacist for a reason,” said Mohammad Shafi, Bindroo Medicate’s longterm customer. “His drugstore had every possible medicine making it one-stop shop for all.”

While there’s apparently no argument on the pharmacist’s legacy, his tribesmen in the tent idolized his life as part of their poignant farewell speech.

“He was a philanthropist who never compromised his love for his Kashmir roots,” said a local Muslim cleric inside the tent. “His service towards Kashmir was a quintessential example of a legacy one should leave behind as a Kashmiri.”

For his neighbour Farooq Bhat, Bindroo was a personality worth remembering.

The departed Pandit, he said, was the sober, calm and jolly character.

“He’s unforgettable!”

Back in 1970’s when ML Bindroo’s father passed the baton to him, many doubted his ability to run the Bindroo Medicates.

But his compassionate handling reinstated a new pharmaceutical legacy in Kashmir, with people from city and countryside falling in line before his Hari Singh High street shop for medicines.

Over the years, he added another and bigger drugstore under the Bindroo Medicate brand at Iqbal Park. While his wife would sit at Hari Singh High Street shop, he would take care of Iqbal Park store.

During his lifetime itself, the departed pharmacist made the Bindroo Medicate synonymous with the valley’s pharmaceutical industry.

“If anyone would’ve uttered ‘medicine’, there was only one reply to it: Bindroo,” an elderly Muslim mourner said. “Today, that pharmaceutical legacy has expired!”

For ML Bindroo, said his son Siddharth, his Kashmiri brethren was always a priority. “Nothing could’ve shaken his trust in this spiritual bond,” the calm son said.

Perhaps the same trust is now making Dr. Farooq Abdullah talk highly about the deceased chemist. “Bindroo was an upright man who all his life served the people of the valley,” the National Conference patron who turned up for the condolence at the Bindoo’s Indira Nagar residence said.

Unlike others in his Pandit community, ML Bindroo refused to leave Kashmir during nineties.

Where can I migrate to,” an elderly Kashmiri Pandit mourner recalled Bindroo’s words. “Kashmir is my home, no one can force me to leave.

His departure is the end of the man who helped Kashmir in crisis, said Paramjeet Singh, a longtime friend.

“Today, the crisis manager himself became another victim of this unfortunate crisis.”

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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