Volunteers Help Kashmiri Pandits Raised Away From Home Rediscover Roots

At a migrant camp for Kashmiri Pandits in Nagrota, 20 kilometres from Jammu, Kashmiri children are engrossed in a unique contest involving speaking and learning the Kashmiri language.

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In the last year, Kashmiri language workshops have seen participation of nearly 1,000 children


Srinagar:  For Kashmiri Pandits forced to flee Kashmir in the 90s in the wake of violence and terrorism, a detachment from language and culture has been among the biggest problems. Now, a group of volunteers is trying to reverse this by going to migrant camps and helping the children born and brought up outside Kashmir to learn the Kashmiri language.

At a migrant camp for Kashmiri Pandits in Nagrota, 20 kilometres from Jammu, Kashmiri children are engrossed in a unique contest involving speaking and learning the Kashmiri language.

In the last one year, such workshops have seen participation of nearly 1,000 children between the age groups of 4 and 14 years. 'Team Koshur', a group of volunteers is taking a lead role in the mission.

"When my relatives visit our home, they always talk in Kashmiri with my parents, I feel I should also learn Kashmiri as I am not good at it", said Ankush Wakhloo, a student at the camp.

Mass migration after terrorism erupted in the valley left the Kashmiri Pandits scattered. The drive to teach Kashmiri is an effort to connect the children, not born and brought up in the valley, with their culture and to keep the language alive.

Kusum Dhar, a retired school principal spends most of her time in migrant camps teaching Kashmiri language to pandit children by visiting schools and homes to hold impromptu language classes.

"If we keep a distance from our own language, we feel tomorrow we will go into oblivion and lose our own identity," said Kusum Dhar, a volunteer with Team Koshur.

The volunteers now plan to take the mission out of Jammu to other states.

"Right now we are focussing on Delhi, NCR, Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune, wherever Kashmiri pandits are living, small organisations and groups are reaching out," said BL Deep, another volunteer.


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