Sunday, March 14, 2010

After 24 years, Pandit girl visits Valley

Cremate me here, Kashmir is my real home
Srinagar, March 12: For Deepika Thusoo, a Kashmiri Pandit girl who left Kashmir valley along with her family 24 years back and settled in Jammu, no place other than Kashmir can give her a homely feel.“Given a chance, I would like to be cremated here,” says Deepika, who was recently in Srinagar in connection with the workshop of Child Rights and You (CRY). “I see a different sky, feel a different breeze here. Everything about Kashmir gives me a homely feel though I’ve spent the 24 years of my life in Jammu and just five years of childhood in the Valley.”
Deepika, had come to Kashmir for the first time since she left the Valley along with her family as a five-year-old in 1986.Three years later guns started fluttering in the Valley and the major chunk of Kashmiri Pandits population was internally displaced. Most of them settled in Jammu, which Deepika and her family had already made their second home."We left due to some family problems," says Deepika who actually hails from Krihama, a village in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.“We’re just putting up in Jammu,” she says. “It can never replace Kashmir as our homeland. I strongly feel that our roots lie here."Deepika is working as a lawyer in State High Court’s Jammu branch and also works as child rights activist. She also has a journalistic experience having worked as a reporter with Hindustan Times."Kashmir is waiting for us here. I would love to return to the Valley and stay here. I also want to get married in the State. I prefer to work for my own people," says Deepika.However she says that the special security zones proposed by the government for Kashmiri Pandits can't be fruitful. “What’s the fun of living under security cover. We want to live among the people, our own people. Pandits who sold their properties should have given it a second thought before taking the decision."She said her parents were reluctant about her Kashmir visit but she was determined to be here."I’ve sweet memories of the construction of house in Karihama. I still have a scar on my hand which I got then," she says tears rolling down her face.On the resolution of Kashmir issue, Deepika says. "A solution is necessary and important. Common masses are getting sandwiched. People in the Valley have suffered a lot. I’ve all sympathies for them for bearing the brunt."She says: “The government is accountable for the excesses committed on common masses. We don’t have to be habitual of atrocities. We’ve to raise voice for our rights. The vested interests in both the communities (Muslims and Pandits) are trying to cash on Kashmir issue. We must unite. Civil society too has a responsibility.”Deepika vowed to continue her struggle of working for the children of the State. “The government is not taking any interest in this regard. Children are our national assets and we need to protect them.”

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