Friday, January 22, 2021
Home Opinions Memories of ‘Batta Mohalla’: How the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits continues to haunt the...

Memories of ‘Batta Mohalla’: How the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits continues to haunt the survivors even after three decades

A few years ago, I made a promise to myself, that I will always remember and document the events that brought my parents to Delhi. This is a small effort in that direction.

They say that no one really “survived” the Holocaust, the implication being that horrors that the Nazi Third Reich wreaked upon its ethnic, cultural and sexual minorities were so singularly life altering for everyone that they left an indelible mark upon those who suffered trough them. The physical, emotional and mental abuse visited upon them left them scarred for life; often the tattooed ID numbers were the least reminder of their horrific experiences.

The sheer volume of literature, in as diverse forms as survivor accounts, semi-fictional works, poems, sketches, dramaturgy and even graphic novels produced by the survivors is testimony to the years and decades of continual pain of the survivors, even after the Jewish and other minorities were liberated from concentration camps.

The Holocaust was a seminal event in all of human history, incomparable (one hopes) for all eternity in the uniqueness of its events, the inhumane, methodical and merciless planning that went into it, the scope and depth of the suffering that characterized it. Yet, it remains the paradigm for all other genocides that have plagued the collective human conscience. The aftereffects of genocides, whether the Holocaust, the Armenian, or the Rwandan genocide, continue to reverberate across time and space and impact the lives even today.

My parents are Kashmiri Pandits, who were forced from their home in the Srinagar locality of Habba Kadal. The forced exodus of Kashmiri Hindus following persecution and threats by radical Islamists and militants left us torn from our lands, our temples and our homes, bringing us to various places across the world. The events that unfolded in 1989-90 in Kashmir were neither new nor unique to Kashmir.

The story of Islamic invasions into the Indian subcontinent is one that is particularly blood-soaked, and there is no part of our nation, no caste or community or region that has remained untouched and unagitated by the marauding crowds that trampled the soil of this nation with jihad on their minds and monotheism as their rallying cries.

For today, however, I choose to not delve in a grand, more holistic paradigm. I merely put to words something that happened only a couple of days ago.

The genocide of Kashmiri Hindus is a reality that lurks behind our celebrations, marriages, births and deaths. It creeps upon us when we’re drinking tea in the afternoon, and it plays upon our minds as we plan our days. And while it might be the past for the perpetrators of independent India’s largest communal atrocity, it remains as it did in 1990, to haunt us, stalking our mindspace today as it did 30 years ago.

An elderly relative of mine suffers from adult dementia. He cannot recall small details of his life as it exists today. He forgets where we are right now, and for some reason, he thinks we’re in Jammu, and keeps referring to Talab Tiloo as if it’s right next door. He cannot recall who I am, sometimes. It’s not appropriate to make this about myself, but it distresses me because, like I’ve mentioned previously, my grandmother had Alzhiemer’s for some five years, before she passed away in 2014. Being around someone who is also losing their memory is a painful redux.

The irony of someone losing their memory inducing the memory of someone else is something I’ll leave for more deep diving minds to dig into. But then, I do have to add something. This relative of mine, the one that I’m around these days, casually asked me yesterday where in Kashmir I’m from. It’s a question he’s asked before, many, many times. I smile when he asks, because I am reminded (not painfully) of my grandmother when he does.

“Srinagar”, I say, knowing well his next question.
“Where in Srinagar”, he asks and despite myself, I smile even more broadly.

“Habba Kadal”, that’s where my family is from, where they’ve been for the past 200 years or so. Where our small family temple lies locked, barricaded; Its small Shiva lingam and its Shaligrama now likely coated with dust. But, I digress.

“Habba Kadal?!”, he asked me today, “that used to be a Batta Mohalla”, indicating a residence purely of Kashmiri Hindus.

This is new, he’s never remarked this before, when we’ve had this conversation earlier. He continues even as I fight not to betray my surprise with my face: I want to see where this goes.

“Ohh”, he continues almost nonchalantly, “now there must be no Kashmiri Hindus there, no?”
“They made us leave”, he adds. Who “they” are, how they “made us leave” is not specified.

I nod gingerly, careful not to say anything else. He continues on, “Ohh, when we used to visit Habba Kadal from Ganpathyar temple, it was so much fun”. The excitement in his voice is palpable even underneath his dulcet tones and toothy voice.

He moves onto other topics, but my mind is lost looking at some scene of Habba Kadal from decades, perhaps half a century ago. What the gods of memory choose to leave us with, and what they choose to take away, is capricious in a manner one cannot bear to think. All this, over an evening cup of what we Kashmiris call “Lipton Chai”.

A few years ago, I made a promise to myself, that I will always remember and document the events that brought my parents to Delhi. This is a small effort in that direction.

Note: The article has been authored by Aakash Raj. He tweets under the username @Ateendriyo

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Searched termsHabba Kadal

 

Related Articles

Trending now

AIMIM’s West Bengal ally Islamic cleric Peerzada Abbas Siddiqui launches ‘secular’ party to contest West Bengal Assembly polls

Peerzada Abbas Siddiqui said that he met AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi who assured him full support in West Bengal

Protesting farmer unions reject union government’s proposal to suspend implementation of farm laws for 1-1.5 years

The decision was taken in a meeting of the protesting farmer unions today, saying that they only want the repeal of the laws.

Indian Express spreads fake news claiming there were internal objections to Adani Group winning all 6 airports: Read the facts

The civil aviation ministry said that same allegations made in the Indian Express report were already dismissed by Kerala High Court

5 persons dead at Serum Institute of India fire incident, efforts on to control damage

Reports have stated that the fire incident happened at an under construction building and vaccine facilities are safe.

Two suicide bombers detonate themselves in busy Baghdad market killing six, injuring dozens

As per reports, this was one of the rare suicide attacks in Central Baghdad.

Bernie Sanders and his mittens during Biden inauguration trigger a meme fest on social media. Details

The US Senator from Vermont was spotted at the venue wearing parka and a pair of very homely looking mittens at the high profile event.

Recently Popular

Arnab vs Navika: Arnab responds to Navika’s emotional monologue, says he carried his shoes with him

Recently, Navika Kumar said that when Arnab left Time Now, she had his shoes to fill. However, Arnab gives a befitting reply.

The hidden chats in the TRP Chargesheet that nobody is talking about, not even the police: India Today and BARC

In the TRP case chargesheet, pages of personal chats between Arnab Goswami and the ex-BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta have been added

‘Jack Ma is safe and sound’, is ‘laying low’ claims founder and chairman of equity firm Primavera Capital Group

Days after his unflattering opinion of the Chinese authorities, Alibaba founder Jack Ma went mysteriously missing

“Not forgetting this communication until death”: Chef turned filmmaker Vikas Khanna reveals how he was asked to pay for favourable reviews of his movie

Vikas Khanna stated that critics had asked him to pay 3 lacs for 3 star-rating and 4 lacks for 4 star-rating of his movie 'The Last Colour'

Pakistan ‘successfully’ test-fires missile injuring people, destroying houses in civil area, say Baloch leaders

Contrary to claims of Pakistani Army's successful tests of Shaheen-III Missile, several reports coming from Pakistan suggests that the test carried out by Pakistan was a massive failure as the missile landed in a civilian area in Balochistan destroying several houses and injuring civilians

Has China constructed a new village inside Arunachal Pradesh? Not quite: How NDTV misled with its ‘exclusive’ report

Report China building a village inside Arunachal Pradesh was bought out by NDTV yesterday - and it turned out to be fake news
- Advertisement -

 

“BJP will ban burqa, beard, skullcap, azan”, says AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal after forming alliance with Congress and Left to defeat ‘communal BJP’ in...

Badruddin Ajmal alleged that if BJP comes to power in Assam again, it will destroy mosques, and put several restrictions on Muslims

Fact Check: Did the US State Department remove Fact Sheet on Coronavirus and China after Biden administration took over

After the Biden administration took over, many netizens noted a fact sheet the US state department had published on Covid-19 is missing

AIMIM’s West Bengal ally Islamic cleric Peerzada Abbas Siddiqui launches ‘secular’ party to contest West Bengal Assembly polls

Peerzada Abbas Siddiqui said that he met AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi who assured him full support in West Bengal

Gujarat Forest Dept to take legal action against Christian Evangelist Paul Dhinakaran over unauthorised use of the department’s logo

Website of Paul Dhinakaran claims of collaborating with the Gujarat Forest Department, a claim junked by the latter

Protesting farmer unions reject union government’s proposal to suspend implementation of farm laws for 1-1.5 years

The decision was taken in a meeting of the protesting farmer unions today, saying that they only want the repeal of the laws.

Farm Laws 2020: The need of the hour is balanced liberalization, to move beyond rigid ideologies

A balanced liberalization, based on the triad of truth, efficiency and compassion, may find a better tomorrow

Indian Express spreads fake news claiming there were internal objections to Adani Group winning all 6 airports: Read the facts

The civil aviation ministry said that same allegations made in the Indian Express report were already dismissed by Kerala High Court

Uddhav stirs up Belagavi issue, Shiv Sena activists stopped by police from removing Karnataka flag. Details

Police Commissioner said that Shiv Sena leader Vijay Dhavane had plans of delivering a provocative speech at Belagavi.

5 persons dead at Serum Institute of India fire incident, efforts on to control damage

Reports have stated that the fire incident happened at an under construction building and vaccine facilities are safe.

Two suicide bombers detonate themselves in busy Baghdad market killing six, injuring dozens

As per reports, this was one of the rare suicide attacks in Central Baghdad.

Connect with us

245,563FansLike
496,912FollowersFollow
22,800SubscribersSubscribe