Kashmiri Pandit Roshan Lal Mawa returned to his home in the old city in Srinagar here after 28 years to restart his family business; is this the beginning of the return of Kashmir Pandits to the valley or just one of the incidents?
Mawa was shot four times in the abdomen by unknown gunmen in his shop on October 13, 1990, and though he survived, he had no choice but to close his business and migrate to Delhi.
Mawa gathered the courage to re-open his shop in Zainakadal — a commercial hub in Srinagar— and hundreds of locals welcomed him warmly. They even performed a ‘dastaar bandi’ — a traditional welcome wherein a white turban is tied on the head as a mark of respect.
“People tell me that don’t you fear for your life? Those were bad times and that is over. Majority of people here are good, says Mawa, but a small fraction may have a different outlook, and they can also be made to understand.
Majority of Kashmir Pandits who EurAsian Times talked to stated that it is a welcome step for Mawa to return back to Srinagar, but we do not see ourselves relocating back for various reasons. Firstly we have left the valley and settled in different parts of the country and there is no industry in Kashmir, what are we suppose to do there?
Secondly, the government needs to start an official rehabilitation program for Kashmiri Pandits and provide land, resources and one-time compensation to all migrants. If the government has provided compensation to Sikh victims during anti-Sikh riots, why the KP’s have been left out, asked one of the KP members.
Most importantly, Kashmiri Pandits have witnessed seven exoduses from the valley. Despite a warm welcome to Mawa, KP’s state that life in Kashmir is a big security risk where shutdowns, terror attacks, search operations, bomb-blasts, random killings are very rampant and moving from safe Indian cities to Kashmir is simply stupid. We love our homeland and we will certainly return, but not without an official rehabilitation programme by the Indian government.