Omkar Razdan and Vijay Bazaz Razdan, a Kashmiri Pandit couple, have returned to the Valley and constructed a three-storey house in Humhama.
What makes their visit special is their preference to live in a Muslim neighbourhood area to prove the myths wrong that two communities cannot live together. Humhama is a Muslim-majority colony of Srinagar.
They believe that living in a colony exclusive to any community goes against the idea of Kashmiriyat. When the partition took place in 1947 and communal clashes erupted in many parts of the country, Kashmir set an example of communal harmony.
According to the couple, not a single Pandit was killed or displaced during that time. While narrating the memories of the past, Razadan said that they grew up listening folklores on Hindu- Muslim harmony.
They have named their house ‘Noor Augur‘ which means Spring of Light, to recall those beautiful days of their life.
They said that they travel by public transport in Srinagar and get to feel the warmth of the place. The Razdans leave their keys with their Muslim electrician whenever they travel to New Delhi.
Razdan is a retired chief engineer and was moved by the efforts of his Muslim neighbourhood to rescue him and his wife during the 2014 devastating floods in Kashmir.
“It may be astonishing but I chanted Islamic verses as Muslims chanted ‘Har Har Mahadev’ in our joint effort to escape the floods,” he recalled.
The another lesson how faith plays an important role in the society became clearer when Razdan’s wife said she is moved by the verses she hears every morning from a nearby mosque.
Above all these things, people are happy to see them. They are being offered free vegetables and grocery at times. She said that it is not possible anywhere else in world.
They couple is fully aware about the political realities of Kashmir. They came across the grafftis such as ‘Go India, Go Back’ but the locals do not allow politics to interfere in their personal lives or create any differences between the communities.
“The mass migration of Pandits in 1990 was designed by some ‘fringe elements’,” said Razdan.
“Till date no expert has established that an entire community was behind Pandits’ migration. I believe some were used as compulsive tools.”
Razdan is planning to open up his house’s attic to a computer centre for the economically weaker sections.
He has requested his wife to conduct his last rites in Kashmir. He is a frequent vistor of temples of Ganpatyaar in the old city and Kheer Bhawani temple.
The Razdan family’s desire to live with their own Kashmiri Muslim neighbours can be seen against the backdrop of the continued stand of the separatists who say they will never allow the settlement of separate colonies for Kashmiri Pandits.
They threaten that if government makes any such attempts, they will start a mass agitation in Kashmir Valley.
In fact many people in the Valley oppose this idea and believe this will widen the gap between the two communities. The other fact which is why many oppose the segregation of communities is because if Pandits live in separate colonies, they will be more vulnerable to attacks from anti-social elements and terrorists.
Promises are made to Pandits before the elections, but, as is the case, forgotten soon. Apart from economic efforts no concrete measures to resettle them in the Valley have been taken.
Even now many Kashmiri Pandit families live in different migrant camps in Jammu and other parts of country in pathetic conditions.