Muslim man takes care of Shiva temple in J-K’s Ganderbal

GANDERBAL — Eight families of Kashmiri Pandits lived in this village called Laduna in Ganderbal until 1990, when all of them migrated to Delhi and Jammu.

But there remains a Shiva temple in the neighbourhood, which is still being taken care of by a young Muslim, Mohammad Altaf, who says that he comes regularly to this temple and cleans it because, as a Muslim, it is his duty to care for the fellow Pandits.

“Our religion teaches us to respect our non-Muslim brothers and protect their property,” he said as per news agency Kashmir News Observer (KNO).

Mohammad Altaf

According to Altaf, apart from taking care of the temple, the local Muslims have worked with the Panchayat body to restore the temple structure and work on it will start very soon.

An elderly Muslim man in the village, Abdul Ahad Rather, said that before 1990, the Pandits and Muslims used to live like brothers and sisters.

He said that even when the situation in the Kashmir valley deteriorated in 1990, the Muslims came to the Pandits’ help, even sleeping in their homes to guard them. “But time forced them to leave,” he said.

Mohammad Altaf sweeping the temple floor

Rather said that a Pandit neighbour named Hira Lal sold his land to him, in return for which he paid a good price and for which he also has official documents.

He added that Hira Lal and his family come and stay at his home for two or three months every year. “We are in touch with them even today and we still share our grief with each other,” Rather said.

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