Here is a 77-year-old retired man who was caught in the politics of Jammu and Kashmir more than once. He not only lost his home in the process, but also his hometown where he grew up and his roots. Read on to know about his views on politics in J&K and its effects on the daily lives of many.
Anonymous man, 77, Retired, Jammu
Interviewed By Joseph Colin and Poorva Dinesh
Coming from Jammu and Kashmir, is politics an active part of your life? Do you discuss it with your family and friends regularly?
My politics starts and ends with me. I’m discussing it because you wanted to hear my views. I feel I should do something to help people in need, but I can’t bring the change alone.
You live in Jammu right now, but don’t you want to go back to your hometown Srinagar?
It is impossible to go back there because our property has been taken and sold by the local Mohammedans with the help of militants, who are Pakistanis. And they are not ready to give it back. They just asked Kashmiri Pandits to leave the state. Where will they go? Where will they live? 0.5% of Kashmiri Pandits who are still living there, are living a mysterious life.
Leaders of those militants are given respect in India. Geelani has got this mansion in Delhi. He is always treated in Apollo Hospital. Why isn’t he asked to go get his treatments done in Pakistan? Because of Article 370 Hindus can’t buy land in Kashmir but Geelani can purchase land in Delhi or any part of India. Why?
How was your childhood growing up in Srinagar?
I was born in 1938. Mohammedans and Kashmiri Pandits were all together back then. I passed my matriculation in 1953 from DAV High School. During those times, Mohammedans were very gentle with us. They were sweet like apples. I still have friends from those days who are living in Srinagar presently but they keep their distance because they’re asked to do so.
Do you see progress in the state amidst the chaos and unrest that’s always gripping it?
I’ll give you an example. As per the laws, FM radio channels should be available throughout the country. If I turn on the radio in Bangalore, I can choose from and listen to a list of channels. But in Jammu and Kashmir, the communication is null and void. One can’t access radio stations there. I can even access Chinese stations sometimes in a hill station like Dehradun! Aren’t we better than China? Can’t our government provide basic communication mediums to the public? It’s all because of corruption, which is never-ending. The state government, despite who’s in power, just makes promises. They don’t deliver. I hope the Modi government can bring change to the system. It will take a lot of time. Will I be alive to see that change? I don’t know.
The political and social unrest in J&K has never really resolved since its inception. Didn’t you ever feel like leaving the state permanently and settling somewhere else in India?
Mentally, settling in any other part of India won’t give me satisfaction. I want to live and settle in Kashmir because it’s my motherland. I want to die in peace in my hometown, in Srinagar. But is it possible? No, because I don’t have relatives living there anymore. But I miss my home, I miss my room, I miss my roots. If there is heaven on earth, it’s there. My grandsons can’t relate to my roots. They say they are Bangaloreans! But I am that photograph that was hung on the wall in my old house, I am that room where I lived, I am that house that I lost.
Do you feel sad remembering your past?
More than I can express.
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The last question is not related to the interview topic, but we ask everyone we interview – what does love mean to you?
Which one? The one you have for kids or your wife?
It could be for anyone.
Love for me is not discriminating between people or their communities. We are all humans and all of us have the same composition of blood. There should be closer relations between all the communities in our society today. Love is treating everyone the same.