A Kashmiri Pandit couple has returned to the Kashmir Valley. Omkar Razdan, 70, and Vijay Bazaz Razdan, 65, have moved to a Muslim neighbourhood of Humhama Colony in Srinagar. The couple has constructed a three-storied house here to dispel the myth that the two communities cannot live together.
“It was a conscious decision not to live in a separate settlement or colony, as it goes against the idea of Kashmiriyat. Kashmir was an abode of communal harmony when the minorities were attacked in 1947 in other parts of India. Not a single Pandit was killed or displaced then,” Omkar said. He grew up listening to folklores on Hindu-Muslim harmony. “We travel by public transport in Srinagar. We get a warm feeling. I leave my keys with my Muslim electrician when I travel to New Delhi,” said Omkar, who has authored the book, Trauma of Kashmir and Untold Realities.
A retired chief engineer, Omkar was moved by the efforts of his Muslim neighbourhood to rescue him and his wife in the floods of 2014. “It may be astonishing but I chanted Islamic verses as Muslims chanted ‘Har Har Mahadev’ in our joint effort to escape the floods,” he recalled. His wife said she is moved by the verses she hears every morning from a nearby mosque. “It is so soothing. When we introduce ourselves as Pandits, we are offered free vegetables and grocery at times. This is not possible anywhere else,” she said.
The mass migration of Pandits in 1990 was engineered by “fringe elements,” Omkar stated. “Till date no expert has established that an entire community was behind Pandits’ migration. I believe some were used as compulsive tools,” he said, as reported by The Hindu.
The dream to construct the house was realised after Vijay refused to sell her 10 marlas of land in the Valley. “One reason I stayed in the Muslim colony was my desire to relate with my youthful days,” said Omkar, who is planning to open up his house’s attic to a computer centre for the economically weaker sections. The couple has named the house Noor Augur (Spring of light), to relive the past.