Emotional reunion of pandit-muslims in Soomyar temple after 18 years

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Srinagar, Mar 6 (UNI) Emotional scenes were witnessed in the Habba Kadal in old city when Kashmiri pandits and Muslims met in Soomyar temple on the bank of river Jehlum after a gap of more than 18 years.

''Generally we hold night-long Herath (Maha Shivratri) puja in our homes and receive our relatives and muslim brethren in the morning there. But this time we decided to make this occasion a memorable one by holding '' herath milan'' in the temple, located near the famous bridge of Habba Kadal, the area once dominated by Kashmiri pandits, '' said the participants.

They said, ''this is for the first time after mass migration of pandits from valley in early Nineties, particularly from the old town, that pandits are holding puja in the temple.'' The security forces guarding the temple after an adjacent building was gutted in 1992, when holding puja there.

The temple was being visited daily in the morning and the evening by thousands of pandits before the turmoil, said Bushan Lal adding ''though we would bring back the old days but we would certainly try to start afresh and live peacefully with our neighbours.'' Muslims, who had come to attend the Herath milan, said they felt incomplete after the migration of pandits from the area, which was inhabitated by them from centuries.

''Nothing can separate the pandits and Muslims, who are an integral part of centuries old Kashmiryat,'' the people present in the temple said.

An elderly muslim could not control his emotions when he met a young pandit, son of his friend who had passed away in Jammu three years ago.

The pandits feel upset after they were told that two shops of the temple property were sold by the pandit shopkeepers, who were alloted the shops by the temple trust before eruption of turmoil.

They alleged that the property of temples had also been sold by the people not associated with the Kashmiri pandit community.

The pandits appealed to their members of they community other, living in different parts of the country, to return to their roots.

This was the begining and we will organise many more milans to provide an opportunity to members of both the communities to meet each other they said.

However, they said they belong to no organisation or political party. ''We belong to Kashmir only'', they said, adding.'' we are returning to Kashmir with the hope that muslims will welcome us.'' But those who had not migrated and remained in the valley during the turmoil period, ever they should feel as secure as they were before the even Nineties, they added.

UNI BAS GT RN1504

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