Budgam:Kashmiri Pandit families at Ichigam village in central Kashmir’s Budgam district today unanimously said that their decision of not migrating from the Valley should be observed as “resilience day.”
Ichigam houses eight Kashmiri Pandit families, comprising about 40 members and they didn’t migrate from the valley when militancy erupted in Kashmir in 1990.
“This is one of rare places in whole Kashmir valley. We are some of the Pandit families here and we never migrated. We never witnessed any harsh treatment from our majority community,” said Sanjana Bhatt, a housewife. “For all these years, our Muslim community kept us alive by coming to us, by sharing things with us, by participating in our happy moments and by giving us shoulders in our sad days,” Bhatt said.
Bhatt along with several of her other community members, mostly Pandit women were sharing their experiences at a unique programme, ‘Building Bridges – An Interaction with KP Women’ organised by Ehsaas-NGO.
The programme was organised at a Muslim house of Master Syed Jaffar, where pandits came over to share their experiences and also shared some lighter movements, anecdotes.
During the interaction, Bhatt also shared that the village has a history of communal harmony. In early 1990s, when the village’s Hindu temple was damaged due to bad weather, the Muslim villagers rebuilt it and came out for al sort of help.
“We too were scared. We too wanted to migrate. But staying back in our homes was only possible because of our Muslim brothers, who came to us for big support,” Bhatt said. “Today we have no regrets of not migrating from our native villages,” she said.
Kaki Ji, donning an embroidery Kashmiri pheran said that their decision of non-migration should be observed as a ‘resilience day’. She said that Muslims would come to them for all sort of help.
“They came on good numbers, collected the donations locally and the temple was rebuilt by the Muslims during the peak of militancy,” she said. She along wither other community members give credit for this atmosphere of harmony to the local Muslim trust —Imam Zaman Trust.
“Budgam has always stood up for the communal harmony and we are proud for that. If Pandits didn’t migrate from our areas, it is something commendable from both the communities,” said Shabir Ahmad, a local activist.
Another activist, Nazir Khan said “we have been up for brotherhood and communal harmony,” Khan said.
President, Ehsaas-NGO, Bashir Ahmad Dar, said that the organisation held several deliberations with the members of both communities for strengthening the ties between them. “A unique positive communal bonhomie exists between the two communities living in Budgam district,” Dar said.
“There are many positive examples of peaceful coexistence and communal harmony that exist on ground- these are beyond religious divides,” he said, adding “It’s important to highlight these for they restore our faith in humanity and Kashmiriyat.”
Earlier Muslim men and women gathered to be part of marriage ceremony at Pyaray Lal Bhat’s house. On the wedding day, hundreds of Muslim neighbours poured in to greet the Pandit family. The Kashimiri pandits lashed out at the government for their proposal of seprate townships for Kashmiri Pandits.
“Government’s separate colonies for us will be problematic. It would create divisions in society,” said Sanjay Bhat, a teacher.
Hiralal Bhat, a retired banker suggested that more and more such programmes should be held across the valley.
He said that Panidts were facing problems of “identity crisis” and it could be only done away in the native places not being out of it.
“If we face any issue, we will overcome that by being into the native places where we share our natural settings,” he said.