I Have Witnessed Sufferings Of Pandits And Muslims

I Have Witnessed Sufferings Of Pandits And Muslims

12 November 2012
India Today
Naseer Ganai

Srinagar: A J&K police officer has come up with a collection of short stories based on the relations of Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims since 1990, the year anti-India insurgency broke out in the state. Khusboo-e-Kashmir (Fragrance of Kashmir), written in chaste Urdu, reflects the trauma faced by both Muslims and Pandits and how they dealt with it over the years. 'The book is based on my firsthand experience as an ordinary Kashmiri who lived in the Valley as well as in Jammu during the years of turmoil,' said author Manoj Sheeri. 'I have witnessed the sufferings of Pandits (living as migrants) and Muslims.' Sheeri said the collection, though fiction, has been tailored out of different situations encountered by the Kashmiris in general. The author hails from the small village of Sheeri in Baramulla district. Like many others in his community, Sheeri's family too migrated from the Valley and settled in Jammu city. Away from his home village, he added his village's name to his name for a sense of belonging. In Jammu, Sheeri worked as a reporter with a local daily for a couple of years and later joined the police force. Currently, he is the J&K Police spokesman. In almost every story of his, Sheeri brings in the component of syncretic 'Kashmiriyat' to show that the ties between the two communities are intact. One story is about an andhi maa (blind mother), in which a gunman befools an old woman. Doctor Sahab is the story of a pharmacist who has to face the wrath of both security forces and militants. Hasrat natamam (unfulfilled desire) is about the abject life in the migrant camps of Jammu. Doctor Sahab is Sheeri's favourite. Set in the Sogam area of picturesque Lolab in Kupwara district, close to the Line of Control, Doctor Sahab, a lone Kashmiri Pandit Radha Krishan, decides not to migrate during the early 90s. Though a pharmacist, Krishan would travel several kilometres to treat patients. One day, militants abduct him to treat their commander. They keep him for the night and release him the next morning. However, after his release, Krishan is detained by the security forces for going with the militants. The forces release him after three days. Later, militants capture him again, asking him he was in the army camp. All this frustrates Krishan and he decides to migrate. But the next morning, when he moves out with his baggage, he finds villagers begging him not to leave.