Mela Khirbawani celebrated with religious fervour

Pandits pin hopes on Modi, seek dignified return to Kashmir

Thousands of Kashmiri Pandits Friday thronged Khirbawani temple here and pinned hope on Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government for their dignified return to the Valley.
On the occasion of Mela Khirbawani festival, the temple dedicated to Ragnya Devi here in Tulmulla area of central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district, witnessed celebrations and religious fervor.
Thousands of Kashmiri Pandit devotees had started arriving at the famous Khirbawani temple since Thursday to celebrate the annual festival.
Nestled in the shade of mammoth Chinar trees in this village in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district, the temple witnessed massive number of devotees, most of them migrated Kashmiri Pandits, who had come from various parts of the State and outside the state.
Keeping the faith alive, thousands of devotees joined the annual festival with religious fervour and festivity at the Khirbawani temple here.
The entire route from Ganderbal to the shrine wore a festive look as vehicles carrying pilgrims in colorful dresses converged in long rows at the shrine.
Singing hymns and chanting slogans, the devotees made it to Khirbawani temple.
For ensuring peaceful festival, the government particularly district administration had made elaborate security arrangements.
On the occasion, the Pandit community shared views about their return with most of them pinning hopes on the Narendra Modi-led government in seeking the community’s dignified return to the Valley.
Talking to Rising Kashmir, various Kashmir Pandits who had migrated to Jammu and other parts during the mass migration in early nineties pinned hope on the recently-elected Narendra Modi-led government in Delhi for their dignified return to the Valley.
“We hope that Modiji didn’t turn up as his predecessors who never wanted dignified return of displaced Kashmiri Pandits to their homeland,” B K Das, a Kashmir Pandit said.
Das said he was residing in Zainakote area of Srinagar and migrated to Jammu on 16 January 1990 after the mass migration.
Das accused the government of neglecting the displaced Kashmiri Pandits.
Another Kashmiri Pandit devotee, A K Koul said he lived in Tangmarg area of north Kashmir before migration and wished to return to his motherland provided the government facilitated their return in a dignified way.
“I have been coming here every year,” he said. “We want to come back and that desire would remain with me till I am alive.”
He said the tall claims of the government of ensuing peaceful return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley were nowhere to be seen.
Meanwhile, many youngsters expressed their wish to return and settle in their homeland where their elders and parents have lived, however, they said that the government must provide employment to them.
Priyanka, 25-year-old, whose parents had lived in Fatehpora area of south Kashmir Anantnag district, was seen very enthusiastic about her return to the Valley.
“I would love to put up in Kashmir which is my homeland and where my parents have lived,” Priyanka told Rising Kashmir.
Priyanka said she was doing her postgraduation from Jammu University and had applied for a teacher’s post under Prime Minister’s employment package in 2009 and was awaiting her selection.
Another young girl, Arshita seconded her views.
“This is the love, which brings us back to Kashmir every year and it is our desire to put up here,” she said. “The government must create job opportunities for Kashmir Pandits here in the Valley so that they settle and live a dignified life.”
“Ab Modi sarkaar hai, who kuch karega (Now that there is Modi government, they will do something,” she said.

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