Papa ji of Hawal Pulwama: Kashmiri Pandit who refused to leave ‘Mouj Kasheer’
by Mudasir Maqbool
Pulwama: As we all know, in 90’s militancy started in Kashmir, the fear was everywhere. Kashmiri Pandits were leaving Kashmir and going to Jammu thinking they were not safe here anymore.
A family in Pulwama’s Hawal village a last and lone Kashmiri Pandit family is living from past 27 years with dignity, respect and without fear despite the enduring armed struggle.
Omkar Nath told INS that in the 1990’s when militancy was on peak in Kashmir, Pandit families in our village was in fear. They decided to leave the village and shifted to Jammu. Around 50 families were living in the village and only three families decided to stay here. But later the other two families shifted to Srinagar. Thus only my family remained here.
Omkarji added that he didn’t choose to vacate his land and decided to live on his own soil, his birthplace. “I couldn’t leave this land where my sentiments were unified with my soul. We are Kashmiries and both Hindus and Muslims have been living here in a brotherhood for many centuries. This is our land we are all sons and daughters of Mouj Kasheer”.
“There are two reasons why I didn’t choose to leave Kashmir. My house was newly built and I had deep connection with childhood memories with this house. I was just not in a position to leave. And another reason was that the then HM Commander of the area, Mohd Ayoub Parray alais Ibn Haider come to my house and said not to leave, and that no one will harm me. It gave me the courage to stay” he further added.
Omkar also said that during the past 27 years no one ever harmed him despite Kashmir burning due to armed struggle. Our Muslim neighbors help us in our marriages and other ceremonies. “Though we are the only Pandit gfamily here, we never feel alone.”
Omkar Nath is a retired Horticulture officer with two sons with government jobs in education and post office department respectively.
Hawal is a village in Pulwama district of South Kashmir and lies between Pulwama and Shopian main road, 10 km away from District Headquarter. Its boundary touches the Nallah Mar which adds it’s beauty and is historically famous for Kashmiri pandits community.