Locals say communal harmony is alive in state

Pulwama (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], September 17 (ANI): Despite a past marred in conflicts, communal harmony prevails in Jammu and Kashmir, owing to its lineage of peace and brotherhood.
Speaking to ANI, Bhimla Pandita, a Kashmiri Pandit who lives in Pulwama district said her family never faced any problems living in the state.
“We don’t have any problem here. All the communities treat each other with respect here, and there is a lot of brotherhood among people. If anybody needs help, people help them irrespective of religion,” she said.
As per Tanvir Ahmad, who lives in the same locality as the Panditas, he has celebrated all the Hindu festivals with the same enthusiasm as the Islamic festivals.
“In our locality people of all religions live in harmony. I have always celebrated Holi and Diwali with as much enthusiasm as Eid,” he said.
Akash, another resident who practices Hinduism echoed Pandita’s sentiments and said that he lived his whole life in Kashmir and never faced any communal discrimination.
“I have lived in Kashmir my whole life. There is a brotherhood among people in Kashmir and everybody treats us with respect. We never felt any inconveniences living in the state,” said Akash.
Taking about the rich history of communal brotherhood in the former state, Haroon, a local resident said that many religious leaders of various Indian religions were born here giving it a rich history of peace and tolerance.
“Kashmiriyat is all about brotherhood among people. Religious leaders of many Indian religions were born in Kashmir. The land is full of stories of communal harmony which could be used as a precedent for the world,” he said.
Fazal Ilahi Matoo, a well known Kashmiri scholar told ANI that there might have been a difference of opinion among people of different religions, but the people of Kashmir know that in the end, they all come from the same land.
“I remember in my childhood there used to be ‘Majlishes’ where people of both communities participated with enthusiasm. Probably it was the communal harmony of the place that brought Mahatma Gandhi to Kashmir during the partition of the county,” he said.
He accepted that post-independence, followers of Islam grew in the state, as most people converted to the religion, but that never lead to disagreement among communities.
“After partition, Islam became strong here and many Pundits converted to the religion, but that has not led to Hinduism practicing Pundits to hate their converted brothers,” said Matoo. (ANI)