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Very few Kashmiri Pandits returning to Valley due to sense of fear, apprehension: Karan Singh

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NEW DELHI: Constant sense of fear and apprehension among Kashmiri Pandits is why very few of them are willing to return to their homeland in the Valley, veteran politician Karan Singh has said.

Singh, who was speaking at the release of a book, “When the Heart Speaks”, memoirs of well-known cardiologist Dr Upendra Kaul, said most of the Kashmiri Pandits who could afford to go out have gone and “settled for good” — be it abroad or different parts of the country.

However, Kashmir will always remain “incomplete” without Kashmiri Pandits, Singh said.

“Kashmir is beautiful and beguiling and the tragedy that has taken over the Valley since 1947 is heartbreaking,” Singh, whose father Maharaja Hari Singh was the last Dogra ruler of Kashmir, said. He commended Dr Kaul and other Kashmiri Pandits like him who have returned and built their homes in the Valley but added that “such examples are very rare”.

“Very few Kashmiri Pandits are doing that because there is always a sense of fear and a sense of apprehension and that will take a long time to go because the trauma through which they (Kashmiri Pandits) have been I think they are not just prepared to face that again,” he said.

“As it is, everybody who could get away has gone. Like the people who could settle in other parts of India have settled there. The people who could settle abroad have settled abroad…Now, I think special care needs to be taken of the migrants who are living peacefully in Jammu since they came, and also of Kashmir Pandits who want to go back,” he added.

Kashmir has witnessed a string of fatal attacks on members of the minority community this year, in which Rahul Bhat, a government employee recruited under the prime minister’s special package for Kashmir Pandits and teacher Rajini Bala, were killed.

Singh described the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in the 1990s as one of the most “terrible and tragic” incidents that took place in Jammu and Kashmir. He also heaped praises on the community, saying much of what he has learnt in life is through the education given to him by Kashmiri Pandits.

“It is such a brilliant community, all the vidya (education) that I got, whether it is BK Madan, Prof Parmanandna, Prof PN Chaku, Prof JN Bhan, Prof SN Pandit and others, I got from them. I must take this opportunity perhaps to place on record my deep and abiding gratitude to the Kashmiri Pandit community,” he noted.

Singh commended the author, who is a world-renowned cardiologist, for penning down his memoir and said Dr Kaul is not just a great professional but also a great human being and the love that he has for Kashmir and his patients is really moving.

In his concluding remarks, he warned that the nexus between doctors and pharma companies is resulting in patients being subjected to unnecessary surgeries, tests, and medicines. The book launch at the India International Centre (IIC) was also attended by AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria and noted Civil Rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan among others.

“When the Heart Speaks”, currently available offline and online, is the life story of Dr Kaul — beginning from his ancestral village in Kashmir to becoming one of the top cardiologists of the country. Dr Kaul’s experiences are a lesson for everyone, Dr Guleria said and termed the book “very readable”. He also lauded the author for his “phenomenal” memory and ensuring that even the minutest details are not skipped.

He said, “The book teaches us the importance of living with our heart and the passion that the medical profession has, which is more towards service. We all need to remind ourselves of that.”

Dr Kaul said his book is primarily about Kashmir, his mother Gauri Kaul and his varied experiences over the last seven decades. Recollecting his story, he said, “My acceptability and recognition by the people of Kashmir came in the 1990s when I was working with AIIMS. People of both communities were affected. The displaced persons pained me and I did whatever I could. That is how Dr Upendra Kaul became Dr U Kaul. Speaking on Kashmir, he said, “Kashmir is my soul” and asked Kashmiri Pandits to look forward to returning to the Valley. “Nobody can snatch your motherland from you,” he added. (PTI)


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