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J&K: Muslims & Pandits come together
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April 19, 2005 17:29 IST

Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims came together on Tuesday for a unique meeting of "hearts and minds" as part of an initiative to enable the displaced community to return to the Kashmir valley.

"It is the biggest people-to-people initiative in 15 years and is a move towards the return of Pandits to the valley," Jammu and Kashmir [Images] Roads and Buildings Minister, Gulam Ahmed Mir said.

Mir, who was instrumental in bringing together the Muslims and Pandits of his Dooru constituency at a New Year get-together in Jammu, said, "We want to restore the old-bonding between Pandits and Muslims and make their return purely a people's affair and non-governmental."

Said Gulam Mohideen from Verinag: "I am here to meet my old friends and neighbours on the invitation of Moti Lal Koul, chairman of Dooru migrants and a very close friend. I am unable to control my tears after meeting them here. It was a dream come true for me. I thought I would die without meeting them."

Along with Mohideen, 100 others also reached Jammu to take part in the get-together.

Koul said the Pandits wholeheartedly welcome the Muslims, who came from various parts of Dooru despite having faced death and destruction due to the massive snowfall in February.

"I am happy to see them and this is the ray of light from across the tunnel. One day, we will be back," he said.

Attending the function, Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary Hiralal Pandita said that the Kashmiri Pandits would also come to the valley when the Muslims would hold a conclave for them in Verinag health resort in May next.

"This people-to-people interaction would pave a way for the Pandits to come back to the valley with dignity and honour in a safe environment without the government's involvement," Mir, who is also the Dooru legislator, said. 

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