Abid Hussain

Budgam Muslims request Pandits to return

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On 21st anniversary of Sangrampora massacre

Budgam, Mar 20: Remembering the seven Kashmiri Pandits who were killed by 'unknown gunmen' on this day in 1997, Muslims living here in adjoining villages of Sangrampora called upon their Pandit brethren to return to their native places, particularly Sangrampora.

"We request all the Pandits, who have left their ancestral places to come back and start living here," locals told ‘Kashmir Images’.

They said their ancestors lived together for hundreds of years. "We should not forget how our ancestors were living shoulder to shoulder," they added.

The massacre of seven Pandits on this day some 21 years ago here in Sangrampora hamlet, some 12 kms from Budgam township completely changed the lives of people here.

People of Hukhlatri, Chakpora and Churmujar, who had cordial relations with Pandits said, "We lost our teachers, friends and neighbours."

Recalling the days when both Muslims and Pandits were living together in Sangrampora and adjoining villages, a local, Abdul Ahad Dar, 70, said, "We would celebrate Eid, ‘Herath’ (Maha Shivratri) and other festivals together. We would also share happiness and pain." However, Dar said that after the massacre everything changed.

Recounting the unfortunate day of March 21, Firdous Ahmad, whose late father was close to Pandits said that at around 11 pm, a Pandit and a local shepherd rushed to their house with the news of the massacre.

"My father, who was also a village head quickly informed neighbours and within no time they reached Sangrampora where eight Pandits were lying in a pool of blood," he said. Adding, "Only one Pandit was fortunate to survive – he was injured and villagers treated him till he was hospitalised next morning," he said.

The last rites of slain Pandits were performed by the locals. "Muslims of Hoklitri collected firewood, build pyres and cremated them here in Sangrampora," Mukhtar Ahmad, a local journalist recalled.

Mukhtar, also requested the minority community member to return.

"Pandits are Integral part of our culture, they should come and join us."

The lone eyewitness and survivor of the massacre, Ashok Kumar Pandita refused to talk about the incident. "I am not sharing anything about 21 March incident, I only thank Almighty for saving my life" he said.

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