Amit Koul

Amit-KoulI am not well-versed with writing skills. But the amount of pain, regrets and old memories, I carry since long, makes me pen down a few words about the hard times, both Kashmiri Muslims as well as Kashmiri Pandits faced during the peak exile period.

A hard struggling phase started for both the communities in ’90s. The only difference was: we (Pandits) were uprooted; and they (Muslims) were living in pain and threat. It is always very difficult for a person to create a home away from home.

I was born and brought up at south Kashmir’s Shopian, known for quality apple fruit.

I love to remember the childhood days, when we used to think only about playing under shades of walnut trees and trespassing neighbours’ apple or cherry orchard.

Perfection in one’s life comes through faith in the Absolute. And this can be achieved by perseverant efforts rather than to sit back and blame others. I am personally of this opinion that we have no reason to carry grudges or to blame anyone for our ill fate. Others from my community may have, but it was destined and written up there, and inevitable.

Both the communities suffered a lot. If we were in exile, they were in political mess. Both were sailing in the same boat but in different manner. We may have grudges, grievances, but who hasn’t?

I was deeply moved by the emotional aura when one of our Kashmiri neighbour visited my family.

By God’s grace, we had nothing to lose. My grandfather’s courage never let us down — as they say: many things are inherited. If I, however, started counting yearly financial loss, we suffered on our farms, it would be nothing less than a crore. But let the bygones be bygones.

Despite being a graduate in fashion designing (I worked for years in corporate world to gain practical hand off of life), I started paving a platform for my ancestral business, initially supported by my grandfather’s old contacts, as well as our neighbours in Kashmir.

Honestly saying, I believe, struggle to survive for both the communities were of same proportions. If we were under a cloth tent at 47 degrees, they too were facing the bullets. It always proved an endless debate whenever I tried to discuss it within my people.

I remember the epithets used by our mothers “logkhi sisryi” and “logkhi guali”. Ironically, we have faced the both things. We were under “sisar”. And my friends were facing “guali”. So to blame and to create suffocative atmosphere will not bridge the gaps.

When I met my childhood friend 10 years after migration, it was a great moment. Both of us were “kharanti”. That hug after a decade of unfortunate separation gave vent to the pain buried deep in our chest. He narrated his part of pain and I, mine.

Later I realised a simple word “militant” is basically very complex term — so much goes into the making of a militant. But amid undue hype for the return of Kashmiri pandits, no one seems to unfold the cause behind militancy.

Trust me, neither of the communities have any issue with each other. No matter how they are resettled and where they are resettled.

When I compare Kashmir of 90’s with present day, the only difference, I find, is that the literacy rate has gone up, which is a good sign.

So let a dialogue begin between the two communities. I believe it will help restore confidence between the two communities.

(The author, a Kashmiri Pandit, is Managing Director JK Fruit Company, Shopian)


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