Press Trust of india

‘Samanbal’ brings together people to revive tradition of ‘Kashmiriyat’

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Srinagar: Taking a leap from virtual to the real world, a group of intellectuals and academicians gathered here on Saturday in an attempt to revive ‘Kashmiriyat’, a tradition of unity and communal harmony in the strife-torn Valley.

The group known as “Samanbal” (a place where people meet) was initiated on a new social media platform where voices from the Valley and displaced Kashmiri Pandit community were conversing often about reviving the centuries-old culture of religious syncretism in Kashmir.

The group was initiated by Javed Dar from Baramulla, a post-graduate in political science, along with Maiser Majeed from Ratnipora, who is also a post-graduate in the same subject, and Dr Nusrat Amin, an assistant professor in the Kashmir University, who teaches Urdu.

Renowned artist Inder Salim, a member of the displaced community, said, “It is history which is repeating itself. Pandits and Muslims belong to the same milieu. The desire to communicate with each other is there despite political narratives. There will be an urge between the two communities to create new dynamics of reaching out to each other.”

Inder Salim, who wears his name as a badge of ‘Kashmiriyat’ as it includes a Pandit and a Muslim name, had specially flown from Delhi for this gathering.

Mohammad Amin Bhat, a writer and TV personality, who broke down many times during the get-together, said, “The circle of life was complete when I met my brothers. It was a reunion of detached parts of myself.”

Dar and Maiser said they were pained by whatever happened in 1990s and this group’s creation was a part of their desire for the truth and to work out in a way to bring the displaced community back or at least understand an unbiased narrative.

“We were guided by Dr Nusrat and some others and today we are happy that finally we are meeting physically,” says Dar.

The meeting was graced by senior IAS officer Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, Secretary of Tribal Affairs Department and holding charge of Chief Executive Officer of Mission Youth, who said it was a nice attempt by the organisers to host such an event and urged them to hold many more such meets in remote areas of the Valley.

“It is good that people have moved away from their comfort zones in holding such a unique meeting and I am glad to be present here,” he said.

Mantasha Binti Rashid, a Kashmir Administrative Service officer of 2011 who is currently posted with the Srinagar Municipal Corporation, said the meeting was a demonstration of power of the virtual world.

“From the boundaries of the Internet, we met physically only to understand the connection that Muslims and Pandits share in the valley. Irrespective of difficulties, Kashmiri Pandits and Kashmiri Muslims are inseparable,” she said.

Dr Nusrat Amin said that there is a narrative being built on some social media platforms that the entire Kashmiri Muslim community was responsible for the 1990 exodus which had stirred animosity between the two communities.

“The aims of this group is to find voices which will bridge the divisions between Kashmiri Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits and I am glad that we have achieved it,” she said and pointed that some Kashmiri Pandits had joined the event through video-conferencing.

Inam-ul-Nabi, a political and social activist, spoke about his association with Kashmiri Pandits and said, “The two communities have been banks of the same river since 1990 and there is a need to build broken bridges and bring our brothers and sisters back to the valley. We are all sons of the same soil and this truth needs no political narrative.”

Dr Samreen Gilani, a TV anchor and assistant professor of Kashmiri language in Central University, also echoed Nabi’s sentiment of bringing Kashmiri Pandits back to the Valley.

Saima Shafi, also famous as ‘Kralkoor’ (potter girl), recalled her association with Kashmiri Pandits and said that there is a need to engage with the displaced community at the grassroot level. “If we are able to convince even 10, I am sure hundreds will follow.”

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