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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

Jammu

Sunanda's village mourns her death
Toufiq Rashid, Hindustan Times
Srinagar, January 18, 2014
First Published: 17:48 IST(18/1/2014)
Last Updated: 20:09 IST(18/1/2014)

Away from the media frenzy, Bomai village in Sopore, nearly 60 km from here, is silently mourning the death of Sunanda Puskhar, wife of union minister Shashi Tharoor, who was found dead in a Delhi hotel on Friday.


Hearing the news of her sudden death, villagers gathered at the ruins of what was once her ancestral house.
"We have gathered here to mourn her death. The family used to live here in peace and harmony with everyone, and we used to share our happiness and sorrow. Though Sunanda's family does not live here now, we want to express our solidarity with them," said Bashir Ahmad, who lives a few houses away.

Sunanda Pushkar, born Sunanda Dass, had visited her ancestral village in the summer of 2013 as Sunanda Tharoor. Accompanied by the union minister, Sunanda had stayed in her village for almost half a day, visiting friends and neighbours.

"Last summer, Sunanda visited the village, met friends and stayed for some time," said Shafqat Nazir, a young neighbour.

Remembered as "bubbly Pinky" by most of her neighbours, Sunanda had made many promises of development in the village.

"We were very proud of her - a girl from our village having made it so big in life," said Nisar Ahmad.
Born in a Brahman family to Lt colonel Pushkar Nath Dass, hers was a family of zamindars and armymen. The family, till recently, owned 20acre land in the area, covered mostly by apple orchards.

"They have sold most of the land, but not the piece where their house used to b. Sunanda spent a lot of time there, though only some ruins are left," Nazir said.

Initially occupied by security forces, the structure crumbled after they abandoned it nearly ten years ago.
Having studied in a convent in Srinagar, Sunanda had worked as a receptionist in a hotel in Srinagar before marrying music composer Sanjay Raina at the age of 19 years, in 1984.

The marriage, however, lasted only a few months. Sunanda resigned from her job in February, 1985, and decided to continue her education till 1987, when she decided to bid a farewell to her village and left Kashmir for good.

Her family later migrated out of the Valley during the beginning of militancy period, when her house was targeted by unidentified gunmen.


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