March 2008 News

Muslims Gather For Hindu Woman's Last Rites In J-K

12 March 2008

Srinagar: In an instance of communal amity, Muslims in Srinagar have conducted the last rites of Shanti Devi, a Hindu woman. Saran Ji Motto, 43-year-old member of the only Pandit (Hindu) family in the Panthchowk area of Srinagar was devastated when his mother Shanti Devi died of renal failure at a hospital. There was no Pandit family nearby to help him. But, Muslims in the area helped Saran in performing the last rites of his mother. It was a rare sight to witness a large number of Muslims participating in the last rites of a Hindu woman. Muslims made all arrangements for the last rites of Shanti Devi and also erected tents where people gathered to mourn her death. In fact, the ceremony took place in the precincts of a mosque. Most of the Hindu families migrated from Kashmir in the wake of insurgency fuelled by Islamic fundamentalists, but Shanti Devi and her family stayed back. The Muslim community of the area treated Saran Ji as their brother. 'The place where I am sitting is also the venue of a mosque and they (Muslims) have helped me by setting up tents. They have done everything and helped me in everyway. I don't see any problem and I don't know why other people have migrated,' said Saran Ji Matto, son of Shanti Devi. Hundreds of Muslims gathered for the cremation ceremony of Shanti Devi and mourned her death. For them, Shanti Devi was like their mother and her demise, a deep loss. 'We have come here for the sake of humanity. In this region there is only one house belonging to a Pandit and this is an example for the entire world. They have been living here for the past 50-55 years and it's the only family that didn't migrate. We treat Shanti Devi's son like our own kin,' said G N Rather, a Muslim.

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