Forced to leave his house, son of Kashmiri family recalls year 1990
Forced to leave his house, son of Kashmiri family recalls year 1990
Suneel Wattal
Forced to leave his house, son of Kashmiri family recalls year 1990
Photo: CitySpidey

Forced to leave his house, son of Kashmiri family recalls year 1990

I am one of the unfortunate folks who got uprooted in 1990. We used to live in downtown, where my father use to run a chemist shop 'Suneel Medicos' near Ganpatyar, a densely populated area with a predominant Pandit population. Being a pharmacist, he was in regular touch with the locals, my father Mohan Lal Wattal was popular among Pandits and Muslims alike, especially because of his helpful nature (which possibly is a genetic trait of Kashmiris).

Every evening his shop use to turn into a hot spot where people would assemble and discuss issues related to politics. I spent a great deal of my childhood in the shop, picking up shreds of information on politics, art, culture, human behaviour, and others. I can spend days relating anecdotes from my observations therein. That golden era came to an abrupt halt in 1990, with the sudden surge of militancy. In January 1990, my parents had gone out of home to spend a month of winter vacations and were due to return for Shivratri celebrations, when my uncle called and asked them not to return. Being a popular figure and a successful one with a vocal opinion, he was in the eyes of the militants and a potential target. One phone call, one warning, forced him to abandon everything. The only belongings that my parents could salvage from their entire lifetime's work were the clothes that they were carrying for a fortnight's vacation. Subsequently, the shop was forcibly occupied, with our stuff thrown out. My father toiled in Jammu offices to lodge an FIR, but there was no legal remedy in 90s of Kashmir. A year later, he kept getting calls from a broker to sell his house, giving subtle hints it could also be forcibly occupied. Disheartened, my father like others, sold the house he had painstakingly built over years. An active person who would work 18 hours a day was suddenly on the crossroads of his life, jobless, with nothing to do except sulk and brood over the lost paradise.

How does the removal of Article 370 help us? Will it facilitate our return? I guess we will have to wait for the answers. Those of us who have read Article 370 in detail know it well that it had eroded over time and would eventually wear out. This article has merely been an election talking point for the politicians. I have my doubts as to how many non-Kashmiris would settle in Kashmir. As for the separate constitution or a flag, those are just notional entities, because every Indian law is eventually being implemented in J&K, albeit with the assembly vetting. I don’t feel this calls for either remorse or celebration. Change is imperative and needs to be accepted with an open mindset. Abrogation of article 370 was never a per-requisite to our return or rehabilitation and has no impact as such.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are his own and CitySpidey does not endorse them in anyway.