Sweet memories, no more Sweet, of the Sweet Days | Kashmir || by Bhushan Parimoo || LIVE IMAGE

No more to rejoice  wonderful moments  of  those   cherished days  .That has been buried deep  beneath the agonizing heaped mound of exodus. All the time festering  neither time makes them heal nor sobbing tears wash them out . It is another riches to rags story that emerged from the core of heart from one of the sons of the soil other than Kashmiri Pandits out of anguish.

A speck of bitter memories may seem insignificant in general but beneath lay a hidden iceberg of callous attitude in the sea of insensitive Government . This aspect has remained untold thus uncared till date.

Who along with others were uprooted from the soil and tossed far away to save life and honour in the land of which many hardly knew. That has become nobody's concern or to take note of it in the scheme of things, back to the soil program. Every one instead   of taking a holistic view in its totality, view it from one’s own angle. That makes one to think where the valley is allowed to drift   along the waves of uncertainty despite umpteen assurance which lack essence and smack of intention of those who   matter.

The world is made to know it is another mass exodus of the Kashmir Pandits .Needs  to be corrected that  this ,the seventh one in line, unlike six previous  migrations ,  is not confined  exclusively to Kashmiri Pandits . It includes Muslims, Dogras,Khatris , Sikhs  of the soil. This  mass exodus affected both sides of the Pir Panchal. Inspite of it this multi dimensional migration has been painted with a colour that of Kashmiri Pandit exodus .

Dissimilar to earlier migrations that took place were under the tyrant rulers; this one unfortunately took place under the Government of India .A largest democracy, fourth strongest armed forces to guard borders, large central Paramilitary , State Armed Forces for internal security, above all under  one of the finest Intelligence set up. In spite of it continuing to reel under more than three decades now without any flicker sign of deliverance.Neither blame game nor passing buck to others, protect life and honour guaranteed   under the constitution  is admissible. no government at the helm of affairs  can abdicate its  responsibility  from its constitutional duties . 

Every five years the Government is elected which takes oath to abide by the Constitution to which we owe allegiance, and business of the government has to be carried in the letter and spirit. Elections are carried out for the check balance in case a government action proves anti people, the new government has to take corrective measures as per laid down norms.   

The mention of Chuni Lal Sweet Shop and Chabra Tea Stall Amira kadal Srinagar   made rumbles through the pages of history here.The owners belong to the Khatri Community, non kashmiri , from undivided Punjab. Known as Aadatis,Lalji , Panjeeab, excellent  traders and administrators.Among Kashmiri Pandit  , buisness class is called Pourbi,among Muslims generally referred to as Khwaja, there is also mog them  a class who deals  exclusively in dairy products called Gooree.Needless  to add has   the prettiest women folk  in the Valley .

Advent of theirs  in the valley  must have taken  place  was during  the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh ,  after Afghans were thrown out  .Until then the armed ingress  came  from the other side of the Indus that  brought with it  faith and art, culture and its cuisines that left an indelible mark.

Although there is a mention that the  Migrations of Sikhs to Kashmir Valley took place during early 1750s when Sukhjiwan Mal was the Governor during the Afghan Rule and latter during the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh after 1819. Sikh rule started expanding its frontiers, annexing the entire Ladakh  right from Gilgit, Nagar -Haveli, Hunza, up to Mesar Tibet. Necessitated consolidation and fortification, to ward off or repulse the counter attacks which they were facing constantly.  

Quite but naturally necessitated maintaining an assured supply line for the essential warfare commodities to combat and for civilian administration. That is how it appears this business class came   to the state.  With the passage of time it was found to have spread   far, wide and deep, slowly  and steady  becoming part and parcel of our society. 

They took various routes   that suited them, in some cases towards the valley via Sailkote. Jammu,  Rajouri etc. Towards   Gilgit,  Baltistan,  via Rawalpindi , Jhelum, enroute some settled in Mirpur Kotli, Poonch Principality  , Muzaffarabad  and Ladakh via Hoshiarpur - Kishtwar, -Zanskar.  

Hoshiarpuri took its business up to Yarkand  to the west and Tibet in the east. These routes got a major flip during Dogra rule after General Zorawar conquered part of Tibet. The British got nervous, feeling threatened  to  the Hindustan Tibet route   that  was constructed by Lord Dalhousie in 1850   .Britishers even wrote a protest note to the State Government then. After the fall Sikh regime Kashmir became part of Dogra rule with it other avenues other than business class were opened for the line department professionals.

Maharaja Ranbir Singh soon after ascended the throne 1856, accorded priority for spreading education and administrative reforms apart from expanding and consolidating the frontiers. A scholar of  Sanskrit and Persian languages and was also fond of speaking Pashto  conversing with his Afghan bodyguards in Pashto . 

He established separate departments for , judiciary  foreign affairs, home affairs, civil affairs and army. This further provided opportunities for the educated class from Punjab to serve the State, be it engineering, Education, administration, medicines or judiciary. This class had a monopoly in the field of business in every part of the state.

It requires mention , Maharaja Gulab Singh when he took reigns of Jammu Principality it the Panjais who helped him  to render the services in the administration. Again it was the influx and edge over administrative service a agitation was lodged by the Jammuites, that forced the Maharaja Hari Singh to introduce State Subject Certificate in  1927 under which no person other than local can have government jobs or purchase land in the state.  They maintained their own culture, tradition, rituals and faith. 

Mostly followed Arya Samaj faith. Celebrated Basant Panchami, Baisakhi, Deepawali, Lordhi, Holi and others festivals, wherever they settled. These had been part and parcel of their lives back home. Such festivals were quite unheard and witnessed till then by the  Kashmiri . Under Dogras Baisakhi, Diwali  was celebrated with much fanfare and  declared state holidays. 

Sweets, Chhole-Bhathure, Teas ,Dhabas , Bakery , Pan Shops came in the valley along with the advent of Kharis.  Kashmiri Pandits had till then had no fascination towards sweets,   except probably Khree, Yellow dyed cooked rice called Taatherr. Halwa is also a  non Kashmiri item.    While Kashmiri Pandits used Khawa  in the morning ,  Salted  tea called Sheer Chai in the evening, Kashmiri Muslims take Salted tea both the times.

There used to be a large business hub of them once housed a stock exchange-cum-business centre for the traders from Amritsar, Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi and even Central Asia at Alakadl fourth ridge  known as Maharaj Gunj  . It was subjected to loot and arson which became the target of loot and arson during 1931.Hastly adding  scanner  elements, came to their rescue  + provided   shelter, protections and in some cases helped them to restart business within their means. 

Apart from  had a  lucrative buisness  on both sides of the Amira Kadal,   on river Jhelum, left side it is  Hari Singh High Street  , Prem ni Ki Gali/old hospital road , now called Gani Khan Market and Maharaja bazar on the right business  shops extended up to  Tourist reception centre Mahatta & Co Photographers on the Bund .  It is  said  Amar Nath Mehta  who was from Gurdaspur, as a self-taught photographer, started Mahatta & Co. in 1915 on a houseboat on the Jhelum in Srinagar, later shifted   to Bazar Bund in 1918.

Coming back to Chuni lal Sweet shop It was perhaps one of the oldest, rather first sweet shops,  in Srinagar. In the front of Gurdwara Singh Sabha Amira Kadal , SunShine Dry Cleaners owner   back of the Gurdwara was located the shop of  , Chuni  Lal initially called Halwai Chuni Lal Ki Gali,  earlier it  had  a News agency  next to  it  Khalsa bakery , a bit further on the left side, there  were Kashmiri  Handicraft, on the right there used to be a Fruit Shop , and still function a Sardar ji Fish Shop  between  Rattan  Singh  and Jai Hind Dhabas   was Chuni Lal Sweet Shop.  Those followed  him as shared are "There was one sweet shop Prabh Dayal & Sons facing another one Amar Nath Sohal & Sons across the road in the Maharaja Bazar, Amira Kadal. 

Another sweet shop was in the nearby Charas Gali adjacent to a grocery shop near Bulbul jewellers. The owner had reportedly become a victim of terrorism in early 1990s. Sant Ram Sohal & Sons in Malhotra Street was popular for Chhole-Bhathure, Ras-malai, Gulab jamun, etc. Nishat Sweets below Khalsa hotel was very popular earlier, but got burnt down in late 1960s or early 1970s. Shakti Sweets near Sri Chand Chinar Temple on Residency Road opened in the 1970s and outsmarted all others. 

Just a few shops after the Nishat Sweets towards the Amira Kadal side was Kailash Cafetaria, the meeting place over a cup of tea with snacks for many esteemed teachers of CMS Tyndale Biscoe School, Secretariat Employees, etc. It was perhaps the first cafetaria of Srinagar. Run by Shri R N Gandotra, the double storied shop was damaged in fire by miscreants, six or seven times, but Mr Gandotra didn't give up till the final migration in 1991.

Another shop Sweet brought to notice was at Cheenkra Mohalla Haba Kadal, known as Sh Piyarey Lal and Sons. The Lala Chuni Lal Sweet Shop used a bear festive look, much sought after during festival season, with a heavy rush of the buyers. Apart from Baishakhi, Deepavali another occasion was Karwa Chauth, ladies thronged it in numbers . Kashmiri Pandits used to celebrate  Chaandan Sheesthi, inplace of Karwa Chauth, two days before Janamashtami.

Question arises ,can anyone bring back those   peaceful days   once again as said strength of the chain lies in its weakest link. Kashmiriyat, Sufism, Gandhi ji's Rooshni Ki Kiran, has failed miserably, among us  all that matter onus lies on the  big brother, together one has to exert and turn table despite provocation on both the sides.The doctrines and spirit, let us face together and  live as we used to. Annexation and suppression, this state has witnessed enough but there is a long unbroken history of blood ties nursed by mutual  suffering.

 Bushan Parimoo
(The writer is a Jammu based environmentalist and a regular contributor to this Website .)
(Feedback at: blparimoo@gmail.com)


Lala Chunni Lal Sweets Shop in Srinagar, Kashmir || Old Memories || LIVE IMAGE

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August 23, 2022 at 3:35 PM ×

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