Although militancy forced them to migrate from their homeland after 1989 and settle in various parts of the country, Kashmiri Pandits still feel the pain the Muslims of Kashmir are now going through.
To express their solidarity with people they once live beside, a delegation of 100 Kashmiri Pandits visited Shopian, 50 km south of Srinagar, on Sunday to pay their condolence to the families of Neelofar Jan (22) and Asiya Jan (17), who were raped and murdered on May 29.
The delegation also staged a sit-in outside the Jamia Masjid to protest against the cumbersome proceedings in the case.
Said delegation member Ashok Saraf, who belonged to Shopian and is now a government schoolteacher in Jammu: “These 20 years (since militancy broke out in Kashmir) have changed everything here. It was very painful to see a bus stand where I used to play during my childhood. My ancestral land is now a bus stand... It is painful, but the killing of the two girls hurts even more.”
The outrage at the incident is shared by Pandits who saw the news on TV in Jammu.
Shama Sathu, a private school teacher who used to live in Shopian, said, “It was shocking. Even after 19 years of militancy in the Valley, the situation is going nowhere.”
Brijnath Sharma, a retired teacher who lives in a camp in Jammu, said, “Those girls were like our own daughters. We have assured their families that the Pandit community is with them (in the fight for justice).”