Sonika Raina, Tribune News Service
Jammu, April 28. Marriage is life’s serious business. In J&K, where fledgling peace is delicately perched on the charred bleakness of two-decade-old terrorist violence, marital bonding among those displaced has come with a government-sponsored package.
Raju Bhat is a government schoolteacher at Mirbazar, about 8 km from Vessu, Anantnag. Recently engaged to Renuka Razdhan, a teacher in Vessu, the couple would tell you how and why they have chosen to stay together.
Both live in Vessu’s migrant quarters and feel life can be secure if they marry someone working in Kashmir only.
Like Raju, there are many Kashmiri Pandit youth employed in different parts of the Valley under the Prime Minister’s employment package. A majority of them would like their partners in the Valley itself. Not long ago, most Pandit youths moved to metropolitan cities after marriage, or pursued their career.
“I worked in Delhi for a year, but the life was quite hectic. Then I got a job in Kashmir as a teacher. We had to sign a bond, making our jobs non-transferable. In such a situation, no Pandit girl from Jammu or Delhi would come to stay here with me. Then I met a girl of my choice in Vessu. She is also working here. So, now we can have a smooth life here,” said Raju Bhat.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2006 announced a special employment package of 3,000 posts for educated, displaced Kashmiri Pandit youths. So far 1,706 migrant youths have been employed in different parts of the Valley under the PM’s package. Ashu Razdan, who married Shivani Razdan in November, 2011 says, “We both are working as junior engineers in the same department. We met in Kashmir and found ourselves compatible. There are many other couples like us. “
The arrangement has a bonus point: same-community marriage. With an exodus of about 3 lakh Pandits in the early 90s following escalation in selective killings, the diaspora life threw up new challenges before the new generation. Official sources say, of 34, 608 Kashmiris who had to flee the Valley, 30,588 were Kashmiri Hindus, 2,169 Muslims and1,848 Sikhs.