When ninety year old Janki Nath of Malvan area in Kulgam died, his Muslim neighbours not only mourned the demise of the Kashmiri Pandit, but also performed his last rites in his village.
The communal harmony and brotherhood was on full display at Malvan in South Kashmir’s Kulgam, about 10 km from Islamabad town.
Janki Nath never left Valley and was the only Pandit household Muslim majority village which has around 5000 households.
Nath, who worked with Irrigation Department and had retired in 1990, breathed his last on Saturday morning after prolonged illness for last 5 years.
Nath was the father of a single daughter who has not been living with him and even didn’t see him in his last days.
As the news of his death spread, neighbours thronged Nath’s residence to perform his last rites.
Gull Mohammad Alai and Jahangir Ahmad who wept inconsolably said “they lost their own family”. “He was just like my elder brother and I used to take suggestions from him before taking any step,” said Alai.
As the numbers swelled up in the courtyard of Nath, the Muslim neighbours carried the bier to the cremation ground and also arranged the wood for his pyre. “It was his decision to stay on and not to leave,” recalled Gh Hassan.
“To help our neighbours irrespective of their religion is our duty which we performed. We have lost a member of our family,” mourning neighbours said.
(Aakash Hassan is an Intern with Kashmir Life.)