In 1989-90, due to the mayhem caused by terrorists, a major chunk of Kashmiri Pandits had to abscond from the valley area and take refuge in the places nearby. In order to save themselves people had to abandon their house, property and other belongings. However there are some Kashmiri Pandits of Baramulla who returned later and they now live in harmony with the local Muslims there.
Today, many Kashmiri Pandits and local Muslims of Baramulla are involved in joint ventures. Few colonies have been developed near Virwaan where Kashmiri Pandits reside. The pandits who came back to Kashmir, hand over their businesses to the local Muslims during Shivratri and travel to Jammu where they stay until Holi.
Local people, shopkeepers, organizations and trade unions ensure that the Pandits who returned to Baramulla are safe here. Chairman of Baramulla Traders Association Mohammed Ashraf says, “We are partners in each other’s happiness and sorrow, be it a festival, someone’s birthday or a wedding. When the people were forced to flee in 1989, we were very disappointed with the Muslims. Sohan Lal Bindru and his son run a store next to my shop. He is a doctor. His family has been engaged in this profession for the past 70 years. He too fled in 1989, but after some time he returned. We want everyone who got displaced to come back. We welcome them all.”
Sohan Lal Bindru’s Ayurvedic store is one of the most popular shops in Baramulla. Wasim – a worker in Bindru’s shop – says, “Most of our customers are Muslim, I learnt about medicines from Hakim Sahib himself. I am associated with him since the age of 17. I am extremely grateful for the faith he has in me.”
While there are few elements present in the society who try to create anarchy by spreading fake news about the status of Kashmiri Pandits to serve their own propaganda, such instances of communal harmony prove that the Indian society isn’t as divided as it may seem.