Jammu, Reportage, Telegraph Calcutta

Home a bus ride away on the other side of the hill, but out of reach

Panun Kashmir protagonists Virender Raina and Ashwini Chrangoo in Jammu: “We are victims of a holocaust.”
Agitated Pandit migrants at the Jagti township near Jammu: “We are actors of a forgotten tragedy.”
Agitated Pandit migrants at the Jagti township near Jammu: “We are actors of a forgotten tragedy.”
The Telegraph report on the first wave of Kashmir migration in early 1990
The Telegraph report on the first wave of Kashmir migration in early 1990

Jammu, Nov. 28: Among The Telegraph’s reports on the first torrent of Pandits fleeing the Valley in 1989-90 was the story of a little girl and her grandmother.

They’d been ejected from their Habbakadal home in Srinagar and flung into the disarray of a campsite on Jammu’s outskirts. The girl played with sand in a pit, as she would do with snow; her grandmother hadn’t rid herself of a lifetime’s habit of carrying a kangri (firepot) around.

The Jammu weather didn’t warrant a firepot, so instead of embers she stored in it lozenges for her granddaughter and keys to a faraway house she’d never return to unlock. It’s likely the old lady is no more, the little girl would be a 30-something somewhere. It’s unlikely she’s home.

Kashmir’s Pandits flew frightened and far from the violent aazaadi eruption, like birds off a startled tree. In the 25 years since, they’ve gone everywhere but not back up the Banihal Pass, never to that native tree of theirs.

The horror of departure shivers Raka Khashu after all these years. “I was a schoolgirl and I heard our entire neighbourhood warning us of consequences, from the mosques, from the streets, it was horrific. And then they came home and shot my grandfather dead.”

Continue reading “Home a bus ride away on the other side of the hill, but out of reach”

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