Trademark Kashmiryat (pluralistic culture) was in full flow when the local Muslim youth left their Eid engagements to arrange and organise the funeral of Ram Chand Koul at Wahibug village in the Pulwama district.

In the valley of death, Kashmiryat is the toast of the season! When entire Kashmir was drenched in Eid fervour, a south Kashmir Muslim village was mourning the death of 80-year-old Kashmiri Pandit, who stuck to his roots despite his community migrating to Jammu at the onset of militancy. Trademark Kashmiryat (pluralistic culture) was in full flow when the local Muslim youth left their Eid engagements to arrange and organise the funeral of Ram Chand Koul at Wahibug village in the Pulwama district. From arranging the priest to collecting wood, Muslim neighbours did all to cremate Koul in accordance with the Hindu traditions despite the pressing engagements on Eid-ul-Azha (Bakr Eid).<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “I was away in Jammu to attend an official function when I got the news of the demise of my father. Only my sister and brother-in-law were in the house. But it was the local Muslims who, though busy with Eid, came rushing to our house and helped the family and other pandit neighbours. By the time I arrived, they had called the priest and even collected wood for funeral”, Vinod Koul, son of Ram Chand Koul, told dna. Koul, who retired as technician in Power Development Department (PDD), had decided not to migrate from the Valley in the height of militancy. Though Koul family had constructed a house in Srinagar, they stayed put in the village alongside the Muslim brethren all through. Both communities have been living in harmony for decades though some of the Pandit families migrated to Jammu at the onset of militancy. There were 40 Pandit families before militancy in this village. But after migration only eight families are now putting up in Wahibug, which was once the hotbed of militancy.”We have been living in harmony since ages. We care for each other and live like brothers”, said Ghulam Rasool, a local villager. Figures released by Hindu Welfare Society (HWS), an apex body of non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits, reveal that there are 671 families of Pandits who did not migrate and continue to reside in the valley. Official figures reveal that around 41,117 migrant families from Kashmir are registered in Jammu and 21,000 others in Delhi and other states. Of the total migrant families living in Jammu, 37128 are Hindus, 22,46 Muslim 1738 Sikhs and five others. “Kashmiryat is in the DNA of people here. We have always helped each other whether in happiness or sorrow. When there used to be a marriage of Kashmiri Pandit girl, local Muslim women used to recite wanwun (Kashmiri folklore). If a Pandit passed away, local Muslims would join the funeral. And it was evident on Eid when Muslims turned up for funeral of Ram Chand Koul”, said CL Bhat, general secretary of HWS.

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Kashmiryat – a feeling in life and beyond