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The Rediff Special/Mukhtar Ahmad
July 25, 2003
He is no godman, but his Kashmiri patients think their aches will go if he places his hand over their heads.
As militancy raised its head, Kashmir's most renowned neurologist, Dr Sushil Razdan, along with other members of the minority Kashmiri Pandit community, left the valley in 1990 and established his clinic in Jammu. But that did not stop his Kashmiri patients from visiting him.
On a week's visit to Kashmir recently, Dr Razdan stayed at the house of a Muslim schoolmate, and was inundated with invitations from well-wishers across the valley.
He spent considerable time meeting people over lunch/dinner or a refreshing cup of saffron-rich kahwa (herbal tea).
During his stay in Kashmir, one point became abundantly clear -- trust and amity between the two communities had in fact become firmer with distance.
Even at his Jammu clinic, Dr Razdan says 80 percent of his patients are Muslims from Kashmir. "This has never made me feel that I have left my home in Srinagar," he says.
Patients throng places where he goes. A two-day visit to the meadow of flowers, Gulmarg, was supposed to bring the busy practitioner some respite from his hectic schedule. But the news of his arrival spread like wildfire and hundreds of Kashmiris arrived there with MRI reports, CAT scans and X-rays.
"The medical profession and anger are incompatible. You cannot treat patients if you suffer from intemperate behavior," Dr Razdan said when asked whether such incursions into his privacy irritated him.
His competence and compassion have made this Kashmiri doctor a celebrity and wherever he goes, his patients follow him.
"He is not just a highly competent doctor, he is essentially a nice human being. I have often intruded into his privacy at odd hours, but he has never shown a frown on his face," said Ghulam Nabi, 62, whose son, who gets seizures, has been the doctor's patient for the last 20 years.
Dr Razdan is one of the few Pandits who have not sold their homes in Kashmir. "I have been taking care to do up the house [in Jawahar Nagar Colony, Srinagar] each year through my Muslim friends in the valley. It is my firm belief that sooner or later I shall be back with my Muslim neighbours. They have been guarding my abandoned house with the hope that one day they shall again find me living among them," he said.
Towards the end of his weeklong visit, during which Dr Razdan saw around a thousand patients without charging them anything, he went to see a journalist friend's family. The moment the doctor arrived at his friend's home, the entire place was converted into a makeshift clinic. Instead of entertaining their guest, the journalist and his family began regulating the flow of patients.
When the doctor left for the airport, there were tears in the eyes of those he had attended to and also those who were waiting for his attention.
The doctor was smiling, but tears were trickling down his face too.
"This is my land and I shall return to it one day," Dr Razdan said as he left to board the plane.
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