Normalcy Returning To Kashmir Valley: Ganjoo20 June 2011
The Indian Express
Srinagar: When most members of his community left Kashmir Valley at the peak of militancy in the state in early 1990s, a retired university professor chose not to leave. For Triloki Nath Ganjoo the decision wasn’t easy but he says he has no regret as he sees “good days” round the corner again. “When the storm came, it did not see who was in the way. I did not wish to leave Kashmir.. causes were so many, multitude of causes, but it happened that I stayed. It was not a funfare but good days have returned,” septuagenarian Ganjoo told PTI. When militancy erupted in Jammu and Kashmir in 1990, most members of the Pandit community fled from the valley. Ganjoo, who is now the chairman of Kashmir Pandit Sangharsh Samiti, was abducted by militants in 1993 and then threatened with death. However, Ganjoo’s release came on the fifth day when a militant commander was to decide his fate. “When he (militant commander) entered the room where I was being held, he greeted me and told me he was my student,” Ganjoo said. The militant commander, who Ganjoo never identified, got a rickshaw for his teacher and paid the fare. “I realised then that I was being held in Fateh Kadal,” he said, a locality close to where he lived in the old city. Hundreds of Pandits, young and old, visited the historic Sheetleshwar Bhairav temple here in the old city where special prayers were held for two days. Under the tarpaulin pitched in the premises of the temple, a migrant Pandit woman, who lived in a nearby locality before leaving for Jammu, said she broke down in tears when she reached Kashmir a few days back. “It was the right step to leave at that time (in 1990), but we did not know it will take so long (to return),” said Sunita Kak, who was an 18-year-old at the time her family migrated. She said being away from her homeland has been a tormenting and stressful journey. “While we were here I may have had only two dresses but we were happy, today we have dozens of dresses but there is so much stress,” she said. Kak also lamented that despite being in her forties, she has never cast her vote. “There are facilities for us to cast the vote, but the process is so cumbersome.. we are supposed to fill so many forms. It is all because we are not in our home,” she said. Not all Pandits, however, share Ganjoo’s and Kak’s sentiment. For 20-year-old Ritika Kak, a Pandit girl born and brought up in Jammu city, Kashmir remains a distant dream but she is skeptical about moving to the valley for good. “Not forever, we cannot live in this environment because things here are sometimes normal and sometimes not. We cannot stay here permanently,” Ritika said. She said her only connection with the valley has been through the stories narrated by her parents.