This Article is From Sep 30, 2015

On Eid, a Village in Kashmir Mourns the Death of a Pandit

25 years ago, the Koul family had decided against migrating when thousands of Pandits left the Valley

Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir: Eid was a day of mourning, not celebration, at a village in Kashmir's Pulwama district. Muslims were mourning the death of a Hindu neighbour, Ramchand Koul, a Kashmiri Pandit who had refused to leave the Valley during the militancy-related exodus of 1990.

Not only did they help with the funeral arrangements, they helped carry the bier to the cremation ground.  

Ramchand Koul's son Vinod said he was touched. "I was not expecting this as it was Eid and everyone was busy, but people ignored that and helped with my father's last rites," he said.

25 years ago, the Koul family, along with seven other Pandit families from the Wahibugh village, had decided against migrating when thousands of Pandits left the Valley.

Now, the neighbours have requested his relative, Lasa Koul, who had migrated to Delhi and came to attend the funeral, to stay back at the village.

Mr Koul is contemplating a return.

"People are saying that they will renovate my home and make all arrangements... bedding, utensils everything. Since Saturday, everyone, men and women are coming here to see me," he said.

Before the Eid festival, the state government had banned Internet for three days, reportedly to prevent a communal flare up after a court ordered the police to strictly enforce a beef ban which had triggered protests across the state.

But the locals say the bond between the two communities that has grown over the years is not easy to break. It was a fallout of the tough times, of facing the difficulties during the decades of militancy, together.

"We stood by our Pandit brothers during militancy. We have protected them like our brothers and we celebrate together and mourn together," said Ghulam Rasool, Koul's neighbour.