Himanshi Raina is certain she doesn’t want to return to Kashmir. Despite her roots in the Valley and her pride in being a Kashmiri Pandit, she says she doesn’t want to go back to the land of her ancestors for a simple reason: it isn’t safe.
Himanshi was in her mother’s womb when her family migrated from Shopian to the makeshift tents of the Purkhoo camp in Jammu in 1990.
Her mother Sunita Raina, who was 28 at the time, remembers leaving home with her unemployed husband and a one-year-old daughter for an unknown future. “I cannot forget that hot summer day when I first stood in a long queue for just one litre of kerosene to get my kitchen fire burning,” she says.
She now teaches in a private school for Rs 1,500 per month and earns some more from tuitions. Her husband passed away in 2004 and times have been hard for her and her daughters. Himanshi, a Class 11 student who loves computers, is pursuing her studies with help from NGOs. But she dreams big: “I want to work in a multinational software company and I want to reach the top.”
She is pragmatic, too. “Software technology has no scope in our state. But the opportunities outside are brighter. So I’m ready to go out and work hard.”
“Despite all the suffering we face in exile and as women,” she says, “I want to show the world I am as important a part of society as anyone else.”