Brotherhood in Times of Bile

KPs at Kheer Bhawani Temple: KO Photo by Abid Bhat

The conversations between the students from the two communities always confluence to make a single echo that resonated in parts of the capital campus.

Walking in the corridor of All Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in the national capital, my mother got swayed away with the negativity of the usual hospital smell.

While talking to my ailing cousin, who was admitted into the hospital for heart treatment, she overheard a husky voice. The voice was of Dr. Bhan, talking to a couple from Bandipora, a district in the northern part of Kashmir.

Dr. Bhan, a shy fellow, was gentle enough to mesmerise every patient with his graceful behaviour, but the couple received special attention and treatment from him, just for a solitary reason- they were Kashmiris.

Different religious identities did not act as a barrier between them. That time, my mother realised that the Kashmiri identity makes a powerful bond. “They are Kashmiris first, and then Hindus or Muslims,” my mother remarked.

The words my mother said still echo in my ears. In three years I spent for graduation in Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), I met many Kashmiris, both Pandits and Muslims. The bond my mother described was very much there between the two communities.

JMI has special provisions that reserve seats for both Kashmiris. The provisions lead to an amalgamation of the two cultures again, which made JMI, Kashmir away from Kashmir. The conversations between the students from the two communities always confluence to make a single echo that resonated in parts of the capital campus.

The very echo is a stunning example of the fact that the dialogue between the two communities can resolve the older misunderstandings, which the political class of this country is unable to understand. The Kashmiriyat I saw in JMI stands as a high flame torch of the love between the two communities.

“My relationship with my Kashmiri Muslim friends is pretty good,” Vishal Raina Razdan, a student of Commerce at JMI, says. “I believe, love should prevail over hatred, since past is gone.”

While the majority of Kashmiri Pandits left the valley almost three decades ago, many go back to their native places every year during vacations.

Qalbi Haider, who hails from Kashmir says, “My parents tell me that majority of their friends were Kashmiri Pandits.” There were unbreakable friendships that were not carried away even with a whooping blow of misfortunate winds.

Friends of Haider’s parents regularly visit them. “There is still so much love as if they never left. We always give them special treatment whenever they come,” continues Haider.

One of Haider’s cousins is studying nursing in a premier college of Noida. Studying under Prime Minister Scholarship Scheme, he once faced difficulty in getting his fee reimbursed. The Director of the institute turned out to be a Kashmiri Pandit. This was the reason enough for the director to help Haider’s cousin.

There are numerous incidents that defy the so-called gap between the two communities. Once while travelling in Delhi metro, I met a Kashmiri Apple trader from Pulwama. I asked him if there were any Kashmiri Pandits left in Pulwama. He very generously and with a lot of interest replied, “My father’s headmaster was a Kashmiri Pandit, he never left Kashmir even in difficult times. This should be good enough for you to understand the depth of the bond of friendship between the two communities.”

While the majority of Kashmiris believe that the love between the two communities still exists, Shriya Handoo, a journalist student has a slightly different point of view on the subject. She believes that groupism and lobbying hamper the individual relationships.

“When a Kashmiri Muslim meets a Kashmiri Pandit, they are very courteous to each other, but in groups, they become Hindus and Muslims.”

Shriya invited one of her Kashmiri Muslim friends for Herath (Shivratri) celebrations at her home. Her friend received affection from both her parents and grandparents who still hold bitter memories of Kashmir in their hearts.

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