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Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Kashmiri Pandit refugees in New Delhi, India
Last Christmas 2006, I saw three kids on the road below from my balcony. Two boys and a girl. Looked like they were there on some purpose, and at the same time, looking around and behaving pretty much the way kids do.

The eldest one rang the bell. We told him to come up. He gave us a sheaf of papers - okay, he was a Kashmiri migrant / refugee living somewhere near New Shastri Nagar in Delhi in a camp of some 550 families. I did what I normally do when the story seems reasonably believable - offered him a Rs 100/- note. He in turn, just asked me if we could give him 50 kilos of atta.

What? I was quite nonplussed - very few have made a request for 50 kilos of atta to me! We talked to him in detail, and he tells that the camp is running short on food items and woolens.

I am the typical lazy do-gooder - happy with feeling bad for the unfortunate, but rarely moving a finger to actively try and do something. And then these kids come to my door!

Very uncomfortably, I step out with the kids and offer to buy them some stuff. The boy - Sunny Bhatt - kept explaining the situation, telling me about the kids and their family... I bought them some 20 kilos of atta, some rice and dal and felt good. I usually doesn't let curiosity pique me - but this time it happened, and I told the boy to come again after a week.

Well, he turned up. I was in no mood to steo out of the house, and gave him some money to buy stuff. And gave him another date to come again.

He came again, and this time we had a long chat with him - and a week later, we landed up at the camp to have a first hand look. Sunny was there - and the refugee camp was in fact quite big. Lots of tents, standard slum mess and garbage, and many men in the sack-like clothing they wear.

Jahaan Bhatt, Sunny's father, came out with his wife and greeted us. Some of the youngsters around came out too. We told them we would do what we can to tell our friends - maybe they can help personally, maybe they can use some influence with the bureaucracy, maybe someone can do something in the media. The shortage which the Kashmiri refugees - this big group was mostly from Doda - face right now is that of food and woolens.

In the Kashmiri refugee camp, we also met one college student - Sudheer - who told us he is continuing his studies here. What strikes you is the dignity of this group - they are not people who were already poor in Kashmir. Mostly, they seem lower-middle class, respectable and dignifed in their manner and talk. My hindi is nothing great, but I could manage a conversation with them easily about their living conditions, future options, livelihood... We left after a while, promising them that we shall try what we can.

So this post is that - doing one thing I can. I hope you guys read it, and do something for these people. They are in New Shastri Nagar, near the Theka Police Thana under the metro bridge. Go there, and ask where the Kashmiris stay. You will be able to find them.

Perhaps, you have clothes you can give them, perhaps buy them food. Perhaps, your company can chip in. Perhaps, you know and NGO with some extra resources. I know the Kashmiri refugee / migrant problem is huge, and perhaps we can do nothing that truly help them in the long term. But in the short term, the winter is tough on people, and grains do a remarkable job of keeping people alive.


posted by a correspondent @ 10:32 AM  
  • At 10:50 PM, January 17, 2007, Blogger Sanjeev Ramachandran said…

    Come Christmas or New Year, Diwali or Eid, the hungry shall remain hungry. We have hordes of NGOs, corporates with loads of so called social responsibility, but when it matters most, wonderwhere do they all disappear? There may be one or two like you who have the inclination to help, but it defnitely needs mass participation if the hungry are to eat at least once a day. God effort. Hope this post serves its purpose.

  • At 11:56 AM, February 01, 2007, Anonymous Ritu Bhattacharya, said…

    Thank-you for putting up this post. I live in the United States but typically during the summer volunteer various causes and would be excited to help out with this one. It would be highly appreciated if you could provide me with some information about the camps and where they are physically located. Please do correct me if I am wrong but there are no NGOs affiliated with this camp, right?! Ones again, any help would be highly appreciated. My email address is

  • At 9:23 AM, May 30, 2007, Blogger Naresh said…

    kashmiri pandits who took refuge in punjab too can assert in Pb & Hr High court to get same benefits as being re-extended to sikh roit migrants in 1984-85 as per Pb Govt Notice dt 30 May 2007Col Ghai,CAIIB, MBA,LLM,Advocate Pb & Hr High Court, Delhi High Court and Supreme Court of India, Director Ameliorating India)Jago-re) an NGO, 205-B, Model Town Extn, Ludhiana-141002 , M-9417413510 T-01612460205

  • At 3:04 AM, June 01, 2007, Blogger prashant said…

    if we can decide between all the people to help these people by taking care of one to two family each we can help them in a much better way

  • At 4:24 AM, November 02, 2007, Blogger shagun said…

    I am staying in delhi and would like to help these people. Some of my friends would also like to help.
    Can you please help me by telling me their exact whereabouts in delhi.
    There are many Shastri nagers in delhi. If you could only tell me in which part of Delhi is this Shastri nagar, I would be grateful.


  • At 2:47 AM, August 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank you for sharing this with us, it clearly shows why we should vote for congress again and what we are as a community....soon we will be taking permissions from the muslims for everything or perhaps we will wait till all hindus are wiped want to know more about what happenned at kashir with hindus.,...please visit to wake up....

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