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Home / Pune News / Kashmiri Pandits’ ‘living exhibition’ in Pune captures memories of the “exodus”

Kashmiri Pandits’ ‘living exhibition’ in Pune captures memories of the “exodus”

Kotru was one of 5,000 Kashimri Pandits in the city reliving the day their “homeland wwas lost”, 30 years ago

pune Updated: Jan 20, 2020 16:25 IST
Prachi Bari
Prachi Bari
Hindustan Times, Pune
Nirmala Kotru, and Rohit Bhatt, share their stories.
Nirmala Kotru, and Rohit Bhatt, share their stories.(Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)

PUNE Nirmala Kotru (60) remembers her house, the way she left it in Safa Kadal, Srinagar, on January 19, 1990.

“I had even pressed my children’s uniforms for the next day and left my bed made incase we come back… but we never did,” said Kotru, misty-eyed as she sits a tent to recreate the Yekjah event at Ajeenkya DY Patil University, Charoli, on Sunday.

Kotru was one of 5,000 Kashimri Pandits in the city reliving the day their “homeland wwas lost”, 30 years ago.

“They would throw stones at our three-storeyed house, break our window panes and talk of taking out our family members. That night I walked along with my two little children, we had no idea where we were going, but all we knew was to go away. In Jammu, we spent days crying, thinking of our house which we had just renovated, even the oil paint had not dried on the walls,” Kotru muses.

During the mass exodus that took place on January 19, seven lakh Kashmiri Pandits left Jammu & Kashmir.

The Kashmir Hindu Sabha and youth4 Panun Kashmir put up the “living” exhibition to capture the trauma these Kashmiris went through.

Digambar Raina from Kupwara came to attend this annual Yekjah event and to participate in the cricket competition. “I was 12-years old we were forced to leave my village in the dead of the night. My father was a social activist and a teacher and he was on the hitlist prepared. We were packed with several other people in a truck which drove us close to Jammu and then we made our way to a refugee camp where we shared a tent with another three families. We lived in the camp for three years. I lost my mother within six months of being in the camp, to heatstroke,” said Raina.

Rahul Razdan, general secretary for youth4 Panun Kashmir, said, “Each of us have memories, but our children have no idea of what we have been through and these Yekjah, meaning togetherness, is just that, to teach them about our culture, our homeland and keep reminding them that despite the life we lead now, we are still refugees. We are internally displaced and long for our return to the valley. We chose cricket as our means to bring everyone together, for this is a game that indeed binds all of us.”