A Kashmiri’s Love Letter To Kashmir

Asia Blog Politics

Kiran Butt

Writer at Indus News
The author is a Correspondent and Associate Producer at Indus News
Kiran Butt

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Born and brought up in Lahore, I always proudly introduced myself as a ‘typical Lahori’. But my grandmother constantly told me that we do not belong here and are settlers. The word “settler” always pinched me. I used to argue with my grandmother and tell her that I am a Lahori at heart and I love my city.

Those were my teenage days, when I used to spend time with her, listening to her stories of migration from Amritsar and how her sister had to hide in a suit case to dodge the violent mobs. She passed away in January 2016 followed by my grandfather, who passed away in June the same year.

Losing them left an irreplaceable void in my life. My maternal grandparents were no different as both families had a similar pattern of migration. My great grandfather and his family migrated from Srinagar to Pathankot and then to Amritsar to join most of the relatives already settled there before 1947.

After partition, they moved to Lahore. While digging my ancestral history, I got to know that my family still has some property in Amritsar and Pathankot. My uncle, who is quite fond of history, told me that his aunties occasionally visited Amritsar even after partition.

A large community of Kashmiris is settled in Lahore, Sialkot, Islamabad, and Gujranwala. The younger generations, however, are not interested in their roots. Neither do they know of the struggle of their ancestors, nor are they keen to know.

When I started to study my family tree and history, I was told that I am “wasting my time”. But I cannot explain to them what is moving me to do all this. They won’t understand.

Earlier this year, I got the chance to visit Azad Kashmir. I also have a lot of friends in Indian Occupied Kashmir. As soon as I entered Neelam Valley, my friends in IoK told me they could wave at me from the other side of the river, which divides India and Pakistan. I could not share my exact location with them due to poor network coverage.

My trip, however, took me back to my teenage years when I used to argue with my grandmother for calling us “settlers”. She was right, and I was wrong. We are settlers. Settlers who migrated to another land because they were thrown out of their own land. We have our own culture, we still have preserved our norms and traditions, our food, living style, family values are different from typical Lahoris. We still put salt in our green tea and prepare Shab Daigs. We still are trying to preserve our traditions.

Last week, I got a chance to meet many Kashmiris at TRT World Forum. During a session on Pakistan and India, I asked panel whether I and millions of Kashmiris, who migrated before 1947 or at the time of Jammu massacre in 1947 till 1956, could go back to their homelands. They didn’t have the answer. It seems as if no one ever will.

I asked many of the Kashmiris living in Lahore, including my elder family members if they would like to go back to their beloved homeland. Some instantly said “yes”, while others were hesitant to leave a land they have now settled in.

I don’t know about other youngsters but I can speak for myself. I want to find my own identity as a Kashmiri. I want to go back to my land, which is fighting for existence, the land which has given blood for freedom of its people, the land which existed even before India and Pakistan did. I want to serve my land while living in Pakistan or anywhere else in the world.

There is a good old saying that “you can take Kashmiris out of Kashmir but you cannot take Kashmir out of Kashmiris”. The land is in our hearts and soul, and we will continue to campaign for our freedom. As long as the last Kashmiri lives, we will continue to chant this slogan: “Ham kya chahtay hain (what do we want)? Azaadi (freedom).

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13 thoughts on “A Kashmiri’s Love Letter To Kashmir

  1. Well Kashmir is not India not even Indian side please note and I am a Kashmiri myself. If Kashmir wants freedom then they should avoid mentioning themselves as Indian or Indian side.

  2. Assalamualaikum, MERI behen poori qoum ki duaen apny Kashmiri behen bhaiyon k Saath hn. InshAllah unki qurbaniyan zaroor rang laaen gi. Or unko zaroor Azadi milay hi.

  3. Agenda post by Kiran, who calls Our J&K and it’s illegally occupied part by Pakistan as Azad Kashmir. It’s pay back time.

  4. They all will gather now as the J&K has become more peaceful and POK has been captured by outsiders and been encroached till the very end. People of J&K are enjoying and have good future with India. It’s only few selective family who wanted to rule forever are misleading people. Normal public is happy. India is Republic not rules by selective people like Pakistan.

  5. Those Kashmiris who settled in Amritsar were all proud and they kept a few sentences of their language even after they went to Lahore and of course saltish tea. Khwaja Saleemullah nawab of Dacca came to attend Kashmir liberation seminar and he called Amritsar “Little Kashmir”. Then it broke and Kashmiris were on the run again. I am told that those who settled in Lahore , Wazirabad etc. have now re-established themselves. Kiran Butt has written a truly emotional essay and it will bring anyone to tears.

  6. AoA
    Kiran, I am also migrant from new lot of 90’s. I live in Lahore. My whole family is in IoK in Bandipora. My wife is from Kashmir also. My son 17 has same feeling like you initially. We are at hope and I also count my family settlers. We belong a land of love and lust. Our hearts are in Kashmir. We will keep slogging our slogan ” hum kia chahta. AZADI”. Thanks

  7. Your family came to Pakistan after the partition, if you were REAL Kashmiris, why didn’t you go to Kashmir, if you claim to be Kashmiri? As I suspect you are not. Ask anyone on you family if any of them speaks Kashmiri language?? You remember the massacre of 1947. Do you know in 1990, very recently, thousands Kashmiris were killed, their women were raped and more than half a million of them were forced to leave Kashmir valley. Oh, incidentally, they were Hindus and Sikhs! Of course, you would know this as you are brought up in land of pure, called PakiShaitaan. You went to Azad Kashmir eh, more like Azab Kashmir

  8. Thriller……appriciate your feelings. You are a real kashmiri………where ever you live’ live a prosperous life. We have been linched ‘ insulted humiliated pray for your motherland .

  9. kiran your letter is highly emotional i appriciate your feeling man is born to be gree it is natural you voice is a voice of each and every kashmiri i.e AZADI which they must get.

  10. Get your facts right . Republic of India existed since the very first civilization and she was and still is known by the name BHARAT . However she was Akhand Bharat until infidel generations like yours were born and later she was butchered in the name of a ‘peace loving religion.’ While it’s not Indian occupied Kashmir . It’s simply a state known by the name Jammu and Kashmir in Republic of India after the king of Jammu & Kashmir ‘Raja Hari Singh’ signed the instrument of accession when he realized the intentions of neighboring country who simply promotes terrorism in the name of religion and ruins the dreams of innocent minds by feeding terrorism into them . While the king realized , he was a bit late and the fellow neighbour occupied a piece of land known as Pakistan Occupied Kashmir .
    No problem POK issue will be resolved sooner or later.

  11. Kiran, Good article and sentiments expressed which I respect. I am okay with everything except this. Your thesis is this : Give me azaadi because we kashmiris existed BEFORE India and Pakistan. By this convoluted logic, every cultural clan in this subcontinent….Tamils, Telugus, Punjabis, Garhwalis, Marathas, Bengalis, Sindhis, Manipuris etc etc etc…hundreds of them had an individual cultural identity (and still have…as you mentioned) but that cannot be a reason for wanting azaadi. You have to come up with some other really justified reason.

  12. I just checked with my grand parents, about your grand parents. Your grand parents are not at haven, where my grand parents are. Your grand parents are in hell, because they didn’t tell you the truth. They didn’t tell you that which country they were leaving in before division. That was India. If you really want to come back to your motherland, it is very easy. Just explain all Lahoris that they should separate Lahore from pakistan (atankistan) and join back to India (Mahan Bharat). Post which You will be free to stay any where in India.

    It is indeed your wrong surrounding during your upbringing with separatist, which has putting wrong information in your mind. Come back to India with Lahore, you will be much better human being.

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