By Zaffar Iqbal
Srinagar, Jan 17 (IANS) January 19, 1990 is a date frozen in time when Kashmiri Pandits fled their homes to save their lives in the face of rising militancy in the Valley. A big concern for the uprooted community has been a loss of identity after their migration, but a community radio station in Jammu has been helping to connect scattered Kashmiri Pandits.
‘Radio Sharda’, ranked as the number one community radio station in the country by a government survey, is like an anchor for the displaced community. The community is keeping in touch with its members and preserving their language and culture through the community radio station run entirely by Kashmiris.
The idea of setting up a community radio station came to Kashmiri Pandit migrant Ramesh Hangloo from a Muslim Pakistan-occupied Kashmir immigrant in London who had established a similar radio station in London for the Mirpuri community of PoK settled in the UK.
Radio Sharda, the first community radio station of Jammu & Kashmir, is playing a pivotal role in binding the Kashmiri community scattered world over and reconnecting them with their roots and helping preserve Kashmiri language and culture.
“Radio Sharda is meant for all Kashmiri-speaking people world over wherever Kashmiris are residing,” said Hangloo. “We have got feedback of 112 countries where Radio Sharda is heard.”
Close to three lakh Kashmiri Pandits left the valley in 1990 after militancy erupted, leaving behind all their land and properties, and most settled in migrant camps in Jammu.
The community radio station with its entire content in Kashmiri language is produced and presented by members of the Pandit community from a settlement colony in Jammu. Six years after it was launched, the community radio station, available on the Internet as well, has been ranked the number one community radio station of the country by information and broadcasting survey of the Indian government. Radio Sharda has also won two national awards in 2019.
Over three decades after they migrated from the valley, Kashmiri Pandits are scattered all over the world, but they hope that one day they will return to Kashmir. In the meantime they are preserving their language and culture, and Radio Sharda is one such initiative for that.
“We didn’t have a platform to promote language, but now we have a platform. It is important for our children to learn the language,” said Manju Raina, programmer at Radio Sharda.