While religious hatred continues to hog the headlines across country, Dardpora, a hamlet in the tehsil Pattan presents a heart warming picture to every visitor
About 35 Sikh families and over 100 Muslim families live in close camaraderie for centuries now, “We don’t see ourselves as Sikhs and Muslims, but fellow villagers who are born to share each others joy and sorrow,” says Harmeet Singh adding the villagers have been sharing the happiness and suffering for centuries together.
These harmonious sentiments are echoed by majority of people living here, “These sardars are just wonderful people, we have been living with them for centuries and will continue to do so as they have become part and parcel of our lives” says Fayaz Ahmad, villager of Dardpora.
The last turbulent decade has seen Dardpora losing quite a number of youth, which has seen both communities coming even closer. Estimates put the number of deaths in the village at about 13 that include five from Sikh families.
“Our family bore the brunt of violence as we lost two young boys to the violence.” says Sujan Singh adding his nephew Harpal Singh was killed on 27th April 2003, when he was asked by security personnel to accompany them in a search operation.
Sujan points out that the Muslim brethren arranged wood for his nephew’s antim ardas (last rites). He added the Muslim villagers had also supported the Sikh colleagues when the two Sikh girls and Sikh boy were killed in a mine explosion on 21st January 2000.
Both the communities make it a point to participate and celebrate each others festivals and marriages. ” For us marriages and festivals are events to strengthen our resolve to be together and live for each other,” says Mohammed Ashraf, adding whether it is Eid or Guru Parab, the villagers celebrate each others festivals with fervor and gaiety.
The article first appeared in Greater Kashmir on November 23, 2003