My Villagers Are My Security - Tillakh Raj
SRINAGAR: Tilakh Raj heads s three-member Kashmiri Pandit family, living in Kashmir since 1947. They have never left the Valley, like a few hundred others, despite the tensions and increased militancy during the 1990's.
His family includes his wife and his daughter.
The lone Pandit family is living in a village of Baramulla district in north Kashmir. There are about 80 households here, all Muslim except this one family. The village is 35 Km from Srinagar.
Raj was working in the revenue department and attained superannuation last year. Now, he is farming like others and maintaining his ancestral land.
In the 90's, when tensions had risen in Kashmir, scores of Kashmiri Pandit families had left the valley and migrated to other parts of the country. but not Tilakh Raj.
A proud Kashmiri Pandit— Tilakh Raj said that he had never felt afraid and has never left the Valley be cause of the support from his Muslim neighbours. "The Muslims remained with us shoulder-to-shoulder, supported us every time and protected us and my daughter in hard times," he told this reporter. He added that the Muslim population never allowed them to leave village.
"No one ever spoke to me badly, I never faced any torture, even no militant has came at my door till yet, nothing has happen to me ever," Raj said.
In the month of October, some members of the minority community, including Kashmiri Pandit Makhan Lal Bindroo, were killed by militants in Kashmir.
Raj said that this is all politics, the rest is nothing.
He said he lived here through the decade of militancy but was never harmed, or threatened.
He said he has never felt afraid, "No, why should I, when my villagers were always with me, they encouraged me everytime," he said.
"I request my Kashmiri Pandits brothers, who had left the valley in the 90's, to come back to mother Kasheer (Kashmir), No one will do anything with them, we will protect them and Muslims will protect them like they protected me," Raj appealed.
Raj said that after the 90's he had been given security for 10-15 years, but he wasn't ready to accept it. "I was continuously requesting the SSP and ministers to withdraw my security," he said. Finally, acting on yet another application from him, the police took away his security.
He said after the recent civilian killings in Srinagar, I was again offered security but I didn't accept it. My villagers (Muslim Brothers) are my security," he said.