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Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

‘No place like Kashmir’: Pandit trader on return to Valley after 28 years

Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries president Sheikh Ashiq said all migrant Pandit traders should follow in Roshan’s footsteps and return home.

india Updated: May 03, 2019 08:44 IST
Ashiq Hussain
Ashiq Hussain
Srinagar
Roshan Lal Mewa after reopening his shop at Zainakadal — a commercial hub — in Srinagar on Wednesday.
Roshan Lal Mewa after reopening his shop at Zainakadal — a commercial hub — in Srinagar on Wednesday.(HT Photo)
         

When 70-year-old migrant Kashmiri Pandit Roshan Lal Mewa returned to his home in old city here after 28 years to restart his family business, this was the least he was expecting: A rousing reception.

For Roshan, 72, the return journey to his roots was no cakewalk. The trader was shot four times in the abdomen by unknown gunmen on October 13, 1990, and though he survived, he had little choice than to close his establishment and migrate to Delhi.

On Wednesday, Mawa re-opened his shop in Zainakadal --- a commercial hub --- and hundreds of locals jostled to greet him and his son Sandeep Mawa. They even performed a ‘dastaar bandi’ — a traditional welcome wherein a white turban is tied on the head as a mark of respect. The gesture made Mawa emotional.

“There is no place like your own homeland. The extraordinary respect people gave me here today; I have no answer to that. This proves Kashmiriyat. We are one blood. People here want Kashmiri Pandits back,” he said. “I hugged some 5,000 people and thousands more are coming to meet me,” said Mawa who has restarted his family business of selling dry fruits, dates and spices.

“People tell me that don’t you fear for your life? Those were bad times and that is over. Ninety nine per cent of people here are good. A small fraction may have a different outlook, but they can also be made to understand,” he said.

The migrant Pandit said that he was well settled in Delhi but the longing of returning home always nagged him. “I have a house, a good business outside but I always missed my home-Kashmir. I want to die here. That is why I have started a shop here,” he said.

His son Sanjay runs J&K Reconciliation Fronta , body that promotes harmony and brotherhood between Pandits and Muslims.

“After long, I was able to convince my father to return and the response of people here was amazing. It was like a mela here,” Sanjay said.

He said that Pandits should make efforts to return. “It is true that 1990s were bad. Pandits suffered but Muslims have equally suffered,” he said.

“My next step is to bring 200 Pandits back to their roots in coming months,” added.Sanjay.

Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries president Sheikh Ashiq said all migrant Pandit traders should follow in Roshan’s footsteps and return home. “We have many non-Muslim traders doing their businesses despite turmoil here. People here have no ill will against any community and the welcome extended to the trader today proves that,” he added.

First Published: May 03, 2019 04:06 IST

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