Srinagar, May 1 (IANS) For Roshan Lal Mawa, 72, the return journey to his roots in the Zaina Kadal area in the old city was no cakewalk.
This Kashmiri Pandit shopkeeper was shot four times in the abdomen by unknown gunmen on October 13, 1990, and though he survived, he had little choice than to close his establishment and migrate to Delhi.
On Wednesday, after 29 years, Mawa has returned to re-open his shop in Zaina Kadaland his return was being celebrated by locals, who tied the traditional welcome turban around his head and also around the head of his son, Dr. Sandeep Mawa, who helped to fulfill the old man’s desire to be back to where he belonged.
“I migrated to Delhi where I did good business. I own a house there, but all these 29 years, I have lived like a fish out of water. I always wanted to return to my home which is Kashmir.
“Our family has been in business in Zaina Kadal area of Srinagar for 500 years. My father had a shop in the ‘Gad-Kocha’ in Zaina Kadal. I have not slept a day during the last 29 years when I did not pray for my return so that I could again be among my Muslim friends and neighbours.
“The way the trader fraternity has welcomed me today proves that nothing has actually be lost,” Mawa said.
“Our eclectic culture and brotherhood has survived and no upheaval can destroy the innate love and brotherhood between the Muslims and local Pandits,” he added.
Mawa also said he did not need any governmental incentive to return to his roots.
“God has given me enough. My son always stood by my desire to come back.
“Let me assure you that every Kashmiri Pandit wants to come back. Over 99 per cent local Muslims want them back. Those living in different parts of the country as migrants must take a personal initiative to return home,” he said.
Sandeep Mawa said: “I am the president of the reconciliation front and I am committed to bring back the migrant Pandits. Since charity begins at home, I am here with my father today.”
He said that in the near future, many families of migrant Pandits would be returning to their roots in the Valley.
Local resident, Mukhtar Ahmad said all in Zaina Kadal are happy to have the Mawa family back.
While the elder Mawa served sweets to those who came to welcome him, local residents thronged the shop which he had re-opened after 29 long years.