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Kashmiris in Mussoorie says from here where to go

Mohammad Shafi Khan (41) is perplexed about the developments taking place in the tourist resort. There are more than 15 shops run by Kashmiri migrants in Mussoorie’s Kulri Bazaar neighbourhood and Khan’s is one among them.

dehradun Updated: Jul 20, 2017 20:46 IST
Anupam Trivedi
Anupam Trivedi
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand news,Kashmiris,Mussoorie
Mohammad Shafi Khan (extreme left) with his cousins at his shop in Mussoorie. (Anupam Trivedi / HT Photo. )

Mohammad Shafi Khan (41) is perplexed about the developments taking place in the tourist resort. There are more than 15 shops run by Kashmiri migrants in Mussoorie’s Kulri Bazaar neighbourhood and Khan’s is one among them.

Khan came to the town after his elder brother started a business in early the 1990’s and over the years, his cousins have joined him and now they run four shops in the town.

“We are in Mussoorie for a long time as it has a similar climate just like our home state,” he says.

“People are peaceful and there has never been any problem” he tells Hindustan Times on Thursday, a day after a fellow Kashmiri shopkeeper landed in trouble owing to his Facebook activity.

On Wednesday, a Kashmiri shopkeeper Manzoor Ahmad invited ire of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and right-wing Hindu activists after he allegedly shared a post of a Pakistani patriotic song on his Facebook wall.

In the last one month, the town has witnessed growing tensions against Kashmiri businessmen. Some of the local traders have even demanded that Kashmiri traders be ousted from the town.

“We are already out of our state and now where to go if we are asked to leave the town” says Javed Ahmad (28) a cousin of Khan.

Most Kashmiri youngsters who now have shops in the town hail from Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district.

Twenty-three year-old Zahid Khan, who travels to Mussoorie, Nainital and Punjab for his woolen shawls business, says the Indian Constitution provides equal rights to everyone then why the hatred against them.

“I was 14 when I came here. I am emotionally attached to this place and I am very much an Indian,” he says.

“There can be some black sheep (within the Kashmiri community) but why blame the entire community?”

Old-timers in the town say there were only three Kashmiri businessmen until the 1990’s but later more have migrated and the sudden rise in the number has been witnessed in the last 5-6 years.

Wasim Raja’s Kashmir Emporium is one the oldest shops in Mussoorie.

“This is the fourth generation,” he says pointing towards his son.

Raja is upset over the fact that hardliners are tearing apart the social fabric.

“The hardliners from whichever community they belong to are making life miserable for everyone,” he says.

“Mussoorie is cold but the people have warmth in their hearts.”

First Published: Jul 20, 2017 20:45 IST