Even Pandits with houses in native places reluctant to return

Nayeem Rather

Budgam: It is nearly impossible for Pandits to live amongst their Muslim neighbours like they used to before the mass migration in 1990 because most of them have sold off their properties. This is the main argument peddled by the votaries of exclusive townships for Pandits in the Valley, including the state government. However, Budgam town busts this myth.
There were 38 Pandit families in Budgam town in 1990. Barring one all migrated to Jammu or various parts of India. Over the years, 11 families sold their houses. The rest who still own their houses either rent them out to fellow Pandits or Hindu employees from Jammu, or spend summers there.
“They have renovated the houses. They come in summers with their families. Or if some member of these families gets a government job, then they move in permanently,” said Mohammad Safdar, a local resident.
“Mostly, they spend summers here. It doesn’t look like they are interested in settling in their ancestral places,” he added.
Mohammad Hashim, a local resident, said that the houses in Ustaad Mohalla and Bazaar Mohalla, overlooked by a CRPF camp, have been rented out by their owners.
“Once, a CRPF trooper’s family had rented a house. Pandits do what they like to do. We assured them safety when they migrated en masse. Today, we neither ask them to leave nor will we ask them to come,” said Shahnawaz Hussain.
“It seems futile to offer anything to them when you are sure they will never trust you. We assured them safety but they left. It was disrespectful that they treated us as terrorists,” said octogenarian Ali Mohammad.
Terming the plan of “composite township” as a joke, the locals said that if the Pandits had any security threat, then how come “they renovate houses and spend summers here”.
The revenue officials at Tehsil office Budgam said that three families, who have houses in Budgam town, also have flats in the Sheikhpora Pandit colony.