In an exhibition of communal harmony, Muslims in a village in Indian-administered Kashmir’s Shopian district shouldered the body of a Kashmiri Pandit for miles amid snowfall and performed his last rites.
Witness from Pargochi village said that Muslim neighbours of Bhaskar Nath who passed away in a Srinagar hospital on Saturday morning performed his last rites amid heavy snowfall.
They said that the ambulance in which the body of the deceased was being carried wasn’t able to move due to accumulation of snow on the road.
Residents said that locals took out the body and carried it on their shoulders for at least 10 kilometres to Pargochi in Imamsahib belt of Shopian.
As per the locals, the ambulance driver had called the family of the deceased who informed their Muslim neighbours and without any hesitation all the villagers rushed to the spot and carried Bhaskar’s body on their shoulders.
Later, upon reaching Pargochi, the locals made all the arrangements for his last rites.
Elders, young and children were among the villagers who made last rite preparations.
Shami Lal, a close relative of the deceased said that Muslims have been part of our community since long time especially since 1989 when most Pandit families left the valley.
“However, few Pandit families never left the valley and we are living with Muslims like brothers. We never felt like a minority here. We are living here with love, brotherhood and harmony,” he said.
Shami thanked his neighbours for always helping them and remaining with them in happy and sad times.
Later hundreds of Muslims visited the bereaved family’s home for condolences.
Raashid Ahmad, a villager said that they always help them in conducting last rites, marriages and share joys and sorrow.
“This is what a neighbours are supposed to do,” he said.
Survived by a son and two daughters, Bhaskar was among the small group of Pandits who stayed in the Kashmir valley after the mass migration of the community in 1990.
Bhaskar died due to kidney failure at SKIMS in Soura.
This is yet again in contrast with the narrative that India has created about minorities being under threat in Indian-administered Kashmir.