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Voices from Kashmir
Introduction
Ghulam Mohiuddin Khan
Waiter
Ishaq Khan
Historian
Sajjad Lone
Kashmiri separatist
Mohammad Sadiq
Hotel manager
Tahir Mohiuddin
Newspaper editor
Sajjad Hussain
Student
Radhakrishnan
Hindu refugee

Radhakrishnan

Radhakrishnan, 74, is a Kashmir Hindu migrant who has been living in a refugee camp in Jammu for the past 13 years. Originally from the border district of Kupwara, in the Kashmir Valley, he fled along with hundreds of thousands of Kashmiri Hindus after a sharp increase in separatist violence in 1989. He lives with his wife, two sons and their wives in a tiny one-room house on the outskirts of Jammu.

I left the Kashmir Valley, and my home, 13 years ago.

My family used to live in Kupwara, not very far from the Line of Control. Despite being so close to Pakistan, we never had any problems.

I was 18 years old in 1947, when all the trouble over our state erupted. But we lived with our Muslim neighbours with little to fear.

I was born in Kashmir - it's my home. Why should I be asked to go away? Why can't I die there?
But in 1989 all that changed.

As the violence broke out in the valley, we became increasingly insecure. People who we had lived with for years suddenly turned their backs on us.

Our neighbours told us not to worry - not to think of leaving. But they also said they would be unable to intervene if outsiders came to attack us.

Young men, who I had seen grow up from the time they were little boys, began threatening us. They wanted to declare an Islamic state, they said. It was quite clear that there would be no place for us.

Life in the camp

When the violence began spreading, and some people we knew became targets, we decided to leave. That's how I came to stay here in Jammu.

Camp in Jammu
"We live in one-room houses provided by the government"
We left everything behind. Our home, our possessions, everything.

Soon after we left we heard our house had been burnt down by militants.

Life here in this camp is unbearable. The government has provided us with one room homes. I used to live in a two-storey house. We had rich farmland and a little shop as well.

But now my wife and I share a room our sons and their wives. We have no room to cook, no place to change. We cannot entertain guests. It's uncivilised.

When my wife or my daughters-in-law want to change clothes they go outside and use a dark corner in the alley - this is how we have lived for the past 13 years.

Elections have been declared and we are being asked to cast our vote. In all these past years, in previous elections, I haven't seen a single candidate.

Nobody has come here to ask us to cast our vote for them. That's how much they care for us.

The point is that there is no political leader we can trust and who has the vision to take us out of this misery.

What we need is a visionary - a saint to lead us out of this darkness. Someone who is pure inside so that his deeds are clean.

We are constantly being told by Kashmiri politicians that we should return to our homes, that it is safe to do so.

These same leaders travel around in bulletproof cars with armed bodyguards because they are afraid they'll get killed by militants.

The day they think it is safe to move around without all that protection is the day I'll consider moving back. Not before.

'Kashmir is my home'

I've heard that some people are thinking of carving up our homeland - and creating a small place for us Hindus.

Maybe that's best - we live separately from the Kashmiri Muslims since we have nothing in common anymore.

But it also makes me sad to think that this is what it's come to. I was born in Kashmir - it's my home. Why should I be asked to go away? Why can't I die there?

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