After 1998 i started visiting Kashmir frequently but kept mostly to myself without interacting with locals and did my job of collecting information on our people,our property and our temples and shrines which were really in bad shape.
I was staying in one of the Hotels at Boulevard and had this attendant named Mastani (16yr old boy) who made every effort to make me comfortable. Unfortunately whenever i looked at him it was with hatred and poor he always looked with some kind of hope in his eyes.He used to wait, for giving me food for long long hours,use to advice me as to not move around after 6 p.m., as its not safe. Brought tawiz for me from Dargah and told me............. Didi please come back we need you people.Kashmir is not Kashmir without Pandits! This came out of blue and i could not believe a local guy doing all this and saying so.........
I visited Kashmir again in 1999 and stayed again in that Hotel at Boulevard and God knows why i started looking for Mastani but he was not around.curiosity made me ask the manager about him and the moment i asked about Mastani he became silent. I could see tears in his eyes. I inquired again and he said MASTANI IS MISSING !
For the first time,after 1990, i felt bad for a local Kashmiri. My viewpoint still did,not change for those people who made me leave my home in the midst of a night carrying nothing other then the attire worn. Kakni wanted to take her Thokur Bhagwan and Jageer atleast but fear of getting raped and killed, made us run without wasting even a second. Sadly Kakni left her belongings only never to see them again. TOHKUR BHAGWAN AND JAGEER HAVE GONE MISSING !
Kashmir is blossoming. New gardens, new tourist spots, new infra structure, new venture etc etc. Everything has started to move but where is Mastani and where is my Kakni's Thokur Bhagwan and Jageer ? Since 1990 have been trying to find them but no use !
Last summer i met another dynamic young lad (19yr old) doing Engineering, in Srinagar. He was staying in the same guest house where i was staying. I don't know how he came to know about me being in media and why he approached me?.He started his conversation like this,"Mam why don't you people come back we need you. You were our inspiration,that's what my mom says. She says since Pandits left this place, things have gone from bad to worst.Things will change here, only when they will return back". I asked him his name and he said .............Peace Activist. Amazingly i could see the similar kind of hope in his eyes which i had seen in the eyes of Mastani,years ago. He further told me "Mam you know i lost my father when i was just 10. He was killed by militants because he choose to stand up for right and for those who needed help. We had to leave our village, our home, our people because we choose to believe in KASHMIRIYAT. I am also like you, a migrant who lost his father and home to Terrorism".
What a statement and with what conviction ?
He became my Messiah. He taught me that a sufferer is a sufferer and a bullet sees no caste, creed, sex or religion. He taught me that humanity is above everything. He taught me that to forgive and forget was the greatest mantra for achieving peace within .
After few months i tried checking up on this young boy as to how his studies were going and to my surprise i was told, PEACE ACTIVIST HAS GONE MISSING !
If anyone knows what happened to my Kakni, Thokur Bhagwan, her Jageer and also about Mastani and my Messiah please let me know. My search for them has yielded no results so far...
This post has been adapted and published by Greater Kashmir (Srinagar) - Miss you Mastani!
|Snapshot from ePaper.|