The winter of 1990 and the Pandit departure from the Kashmir valley is one of grimmest chapters of Kashmir’s history. For Manoj Kumar Pandita, the day means a wait that has never ended since and reminds him of the lonely life he has led post the departure of his family from the Himalayan valley in 1990.
Pandita 51, is a resident of Hakura Badasgam area of south Kashmir’s Islamabad (Anantnag) District and a son of Naranjannath Pandita who left the Kashmir valley after the eruption of local Militancy in late 1980s.
Pandita defied his family decision and stayed back to live in Kashmir. “I wanted to live here, this is our home and I will never leave it,” Pandita told with a determination that he will continue to live in Kashmir.
Pandita has been working as a stamp vendor in District commissioner’s office in this South Kashmir district and says he has tried his luck in Government job however did not get selected for posts he applied for.
Stories of exemplary communal harmony have time and again made news from the Kashmir valley and one such story is Pandita’s relation with his Muslim neighbours. “We celebrate the festivals together, be it Diwali or Eid and the Muslim neighbours have always been supportive, I have never been harassed by anyone.”
Pandita’s mother died when he was young and his father lives in Jammu and is almost 90 years old. He has four elder brothers all living outside state.
Still unmarried, Pandita says he was once advised by his father to tied tie the knot which he had callously turned down. “I did not know that one day all my family will leave me alone and won’t look back,” Pandita said.
Pandita wishes that all his family including father returns home.