Notes on the Fundamentally Tolerant and Compassionate Nature of Kashmir

Notes on the Fundamentally Tolerant and Compassionate Nature of Kashmir
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Zeeshan Rasool Khan

Jammu and Kashmir is a land of diversity where people from diverse demographic and religious communities coexist in harmony. This communal harmony has supplemented the fame of this state all throughout the world. The syncretism and goodwill displayed by the people of Kashmir have always been admired by one and all globally. This is something about which the people of Kashmir can be content with and feel proud about.
Kashmir Valley, unfortunately, experienced the worst turbulence in modern times that adversely impacted even the communal harmony among religious communities and created a wedge between them. The wedge was created especially between the Pundit and Muslim community, which resulted in the migration of most of the pundits to Jammu region who are still living there. From around three decades, there is an obvious fissure existing between the two. There is no doubt that not only the Muslims, but also most of the pundits want to fill this crack of acrimony. However, there is no dearth of fiends, who do not want so and are recklessly determined to sabotage every affable development. Every other day, we get to read tweets, Facebook posts, from these enemies of peace, pouring out emotions of intense dislike against Kashmiri Muslims.
But, the majority of the Muslims and non-migrant Pundit in Kashmir adhere to their principles of humanity, love, and brotherhood. They are still engaged to each other through the bond of concordance. Repeatedly, at different places of Kashmir – which has now been converted into hell , precedents of communal harmony are set. A place 10 KM’s away from Anantnag (Islamabad) district, namely ‘Seer Hamdan’ is one of them. Honestly speaking, in this part of the valley as well, a big chunk of Pundit population has migrated but the harmony existing between Muslims and presently residing Pundits is amazing, inspiring, and laudable.
Years ago, one of the Pundits, namely Arzannath- who was a government employee, living alone in a big house-, transferred all his property to a Muslim man before departure. This was not his compulsion. God forbid it was not the case of usurping or there was not any pressure, as some may call it, but a sign of harmony, gesture of love and response of Pundit Arzannath to the loyalty of a Muslim man who took care of Arzannath like an obedient son. From cooking to washing, cleaning to shopping, the Muslim man took charge of everything despite having responsibilities of his own family. And , Arzannath was not in a cordial relationship with this particular person only, but to all the Muslims in his neighborhood. All Muslims, men, women, and children would respect him for his humanitarian attributes. For this reason, his death was mourned by entire hamlet and after the passage of years; his name is in everyone’s mind.
Another person was recently departed Pandit Somnath Tickoo who not only has admirers in native town, but also in other parts of the Valley. The house of Somnath has not been a mere pundit abode, but if I would call it ‘House of different communities’, it won’t be wrong. It is the home, which has been exhibiting a glaring example of unity, with people from every faith sharing moments together. As noted Ayurveda practitioner, people of varied faiths would come to his shop, however; he always would keep the doors of the house open and would have discussions with everyone. Many a time, he would say to his customers, first get relieved, and rest, and then only would he take the money. His profession apart, he was well known for his congenial approach.
Endowed with the kind-heart, he always influenced others and won hearts. A man of wisdom he was, with his every word poignant. The respect he had for other faiths was exemplary. Whenever he would talk about religion, even Muslim listeners would forget that our religions differ. This was not limited to words only. One would astonish to see the Pictures of ‘Madina’ hanging next to pictures of the Hindu Gods’ on the walls of his room. Stressing people of other faiths, especially Muslims, who surround him to perform religious duties of respective religion, was his main advice.
Sometime ago, while reprobates were busy in spewing venom of hatred and were cruelly and vindictively making fun of civilian killings in Kashmir through social media, the Kashmiri Muslims of Seer Hamdan, were performing last rites of Somnath G and his son, Shadi-Lal was feeling proud of being in Kashmir, with Kashmiri Muslims. In Kashmir, such scenes are catching eyeballs again and again- giving a message that ‘Communal harmony is deep-rooted and alive in Kashmir’. It is the next question, pundits brethren living in Jammu and other parts are being continuously misled by malicious propaganda.
Who does not feel the pain of Kashmiri Pundits, living in exile? Who does not want them to return to their land?. Who does not want to embrace them? Every Kashmir Muslim wishes to have pundits back to their homeland. This is possible, but only after exposing the conspirators and communal forces and defeating them.
Let us value each other, understand the pain of each other, think beyond religious differences, and become ‘one’. Let us keep presenting the examples of communal harmony, brotherhood, and unity. Let us imitate the Pundit Somnath and the Muslims that surround his home, to make Kashmir a vase with diverse colorful, fragrant flowers again. Let Kashmir be the real paradise on the planet earth!

The author hails from Seer Hamdan and writes on current socio-political issues. He can be reached at: