Kashmir Indepth

Meet Kashmiri Pandits, non-local labourers who never fled Valley

Arjumand Shah

Srinagar Oct 22 (KINS) : As many Kashmiri Pandits and non-local labourers are leaving Kashmir following recent attacks, there are hundreds of such people in minorities who stayed in the valley since 1990 when militancy was at its peak.

Since October 2, 11 civilians including five non-local labourers have been killed in Kashmir which has created a fear across the valley. Many Kashmiri Pandits and non-local labourers have left Kashmir. While others have decided not to leave the valley.

Chuni Lal, a Kashmiri Pandit, who stayed in the Valley when most people of his community migrated to other parts of the country after the eruption of militancy in 1990 did not leave Kashmir after the recent killings.

“We never left Kashmir. We never received any threat. We feel secure here among Kashmiri brethren,” Chuni Lal, a resident of Srinagar’s Habba Kadal area said.

“There are some Pandits who returned to Kashmir under the Prime Minister’s Rehabilitation Scheme but left after the recent threats. We will never leave this place. But the government is not providing any benefits to Kashmiri Pandits who did not migrate. Jobs, quarters and other facilities are only given to those who migrated from here and not those who stayed in the valley,” he told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS)

Chuni Lal is one among the 808 Kashmiri Pandit families who did not migrate from the valley.

Sanjay Tickoo, who too stayed in Kashmir, said the recent attacks created some fear among minorities in Kashmir. “But we will never leave Kashmir. We did not leave even in 1990s. We stayed here because of Kashmiri brethren. Had we not good relations with Muslims then we would not have been living here,” Tickoo, who is President of Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS).

Subhash Kumar, 45, a resident of Uttar Pradesh came to Kashmir in 1995. Since then he has been doing mason work in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

“We never faced any threats even in 1995 when militancy was at its peak. The killings did create a sense of fear among non-local labourers but the moral support we got from the locals persuaded us to stay back,” he said, who lives with brother and two cousins in Anantnag.

“We did not face any threat here. Everyone around here used to help a lot. At the time of the COVID lockdown or after abrogation of Article 370, the local people here fed us for 4 months. People used to bring rice, vegetables and flour for us,” he added. (KINS)

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