Kashmiri Pandits Feel Safe, Return Home

12 June 2008

Srinagar: It's the biggest gathering of Kashmiri pandits at the Kheerbawani temple, a pilgrimage which gives a chance to displaced pandits to return home. Muneet was 5 years old when he last came to Kashmir in 1989. He's back after 20 years at the Kheerbawani temple, a temple of special significance for Kashmiri Hindus. All these years he says he was scared for his safety, but now there's no fear and hundred others agree. Muneet said, 'It feels great to be back and get in touch with my roots. It doesn't look that we have come after such a long time. The time we landed here, the 20 years gape got all washed away.' Varsha Bakhshi, a devotee said, 'I am happy. I can't express my happiness to see this. We got great welcome and it looks great.' For most this gathering has special significance as hundreds of displaced Kashmiri pandits gather from all around the country for this annual pilgrimage. After peace returned to Kashmir many more are making the trip. Last year a record 15,000 people attended and had it not been for the transport strike, more would have turned up this year.