This year as India celebrated its 72nd Independence Day let us remind ourselves that ‘Unity in diversity’ is something that has always been our first identity and a matter of our pride. With India celebrating its Unity in diversity we bring you heart-warming stories of communal harmony from the most diverse state.
‘Kashmiriyat’ is the symbol of unity in diversity through centuries that embodies the philosophy of amity, love, inclusiveness and tolerance. You’ll be overwhelmed to see the mutual love and brotherhood every Kashmiri has. Why are we ignoring the existence of a Kashmiri brotherhood? May be because the agenda of a few media is to show communal violence, and the reality of Kashmir and its Kashmiriyat and the many good things happening around the corner are often being ignored.
We keep reading instances of communal violence therefore any story that depicts that there is still hope is termed as ‘a rare display of communal harmony’. But here we bring some stories from Kashmir that suggests that the country has not yet come to the sorry pass and a few cannot change the DNA of India which celebrates and embraces diversity.
‘We Are Not Just Kashmiri Pandits or Muslims, We Are a Family’
Hindus and Muslims of Kashmir have always expressed their love and respect for one another and have always valued them as part of the Kashmiri society. In difficult times they stood beside each other like a pillar and even as the times changed to happier ones as true friends they stuck around.
Let us lift the veil and celebrate the real unity in diversity.
“A friend in need is a friend indeed”
Chaman Lal, a Kashmiri Pandit stays in Zainapora village of South Kashmir’s Shopian district. Like many others he did not migrate to Jammu in the 90s. With the passage of time Chaman Lal turned blind due to some eye complications.
Since then, the residents of Zainapora village, mostly Muslims, had been helping Chaman Lal in his daily chores.
Amongst his neighbours is Anwar Mir, a youth hood friend of Chaman Lal. In this sighted world that is always a challenging place for those living with sight loss, Anwar Mir has been a pure example of ‘a friend in a need is a friend indeed’. For the past 30 years Anwar has helped Chaman Lal in his daily chores. From taking stroll in the surroundings to visiting him daily everyday their special bond is a lesson for all of us.
While Anwar says,
“I visit him every day. It is a routine for me. Lal puts his arm on my shoulder and we take a stroll around the streets. The same streets and shop fronts where we used to discuss our future some four decades years ago.”
Chaman Lal says,
“I was not blind by birth. It happened some 30 years ago but I’ve never felt insecure here. My friend is helping me here to move around. I was born here. I lived my life here and I will die here. Mir is always there in any kind of situation. If I have to go to a medical shop my friend helps me out. He is always there.”
The local residents of the village to are a witness to the gentle breeze of this religious harmony and says,
“Their 40-years of long friendship is a lesson for all of us. It purely is an example that a ‘friend in a need is a friend indeed.”
Lending a Helping Hand in the Final Journey
In a belief that no one should walk their last journey alone, Muslim residents of Kulgam district of South Kashmir performed the last rites of Janki Nath, the only Kashmiri Pandit living among 5000 Muslims in Malvan, Kalgam. Janki Nath refused to leave the valley when all others in his family fled under threats. Therefore when he died he had no family member to perform his last rites.
Though many of us would call it a rare gesture, but his neighbours who described him as their brother thought it was their responsibility to perform the last rites of the deceased.
In another instance of communal harmony and brotherhood, residents of Sheikh Mohalla in Maharaj Gunj, defied the army curfew and stepped out of their homes to help perform the last rites of a Kashmiri Pandit woman.
It is worthwhile noting that while people who read such positive news are shocked at first, but the valley has witnessed such heartwarming ‘Kashmiriyat‘ for decades and this bodes well for the future of Kashmir.
A Muslim couple braved a strict curfew and walked through the violent streets to bring food for their starving Pandit friends. As they received a call from their friend that they were running out of food, Zubeda Begum and her husband risked their lives and defied the curfew imposed in Srinagar with a sack full of food to their Hindu friend in Jawahar Nagar.
“She (Diwanchand Pandit’s wife and Zubeda Begum’s friend) called me in the morning, saying her family needed food supplies. They have an ailing grandmother staying with them. I am taking the food to them. It is difficult but we are trying to reach them,” Zubeda Begum told the Daily Mail.
“Everyone is suffering here. We are so glad that these people came here. This is where humanity lies,” grateful Pandit was quoted as saying
According to the couple, the risk and effort of their long walk were paid for with the warmth they received after reaching the doorstep of Diwanchand’s house in Jawahar Nagar.
This is where humanity/Kashmiriyat lies. It helps you stay positive and help others in the face of adversities.
Here were just a few instances where the spirit of humanity shinned brighter. We are confident that there are more such sunshine stories of communal harmony against the rumours of communal violence that continue to haunt and we will bring them forward.