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Srinagar: On Wednesday, 70 year old Roshan Lal, a Kashmiri Pandit received a rousing welcome from locals in Srinagar’s downtown.

Locals of the area as a mark of respect tied a turban on his head, and expressed their joy by distributing sweets.

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Lal a trader was returning to Kashmir after a span of 29 years, he had left the valley after being attacked by suspected gunmen when the armed insurgency in valley erupted. “Four bullets penetrated my belly and then I woke up in the army hospital,” recalled Lal whose grey hair bears testimony to his age.

He was among hundreds of Pandits to migrate to other states of the country.

However, having spent more than two decades in New Delhi, the 70 year old Pandit decided to return to the valley. “I have a bustling business in New Delhi. But I missed Kashmir. I missed the love and care of my people, and that’s what brought me back to my roots,” Mr. Lal told The Kashmir Walla as he was flanked by locals of downtown.

“You won’t find the love and affection of Kashmir in any part of the world. Kashmir is a different thing, none other than Kashmiris will understand that,” he said.  “A glimpse of which you saw when you witnessed how many people hugged and showed affection towards me.” Said Lal while referring to the welcome he received by the traders of the area. 

Having left the pain of past and business behind in New Delhi, Mr. Lal inaugurated a shop in Zaina Kadal area of Srinagar’s Downtown.

The video of shop inauguration soon went viral on social media. Mr. Lal has set up a dry fruit shop and will be particularly dealing with wholesale of dates.

Talking about the business, Mr. Lal said that despite most shopkeepers here dealing with dry fruit business none missed the chance to welcome him.”This is what sets Kashmiris and Kashmir apart from others. Kashmiris have a very big heart. You won’t find such things in Delhi. And this is what brought me back,” added Mr. Lal.

In a message addressed to Kashmiri Pandits, Mr. Lal said that they should take into consideration that majority of Kashmiris are willing to see them return to the valley.

“The Kashmiri Pandits should gauge what majority of Kashmiris are like. Are 99% Kashmiris bad or good? The answer to this question should answer their dilemma to return,” said Mr. Lal.

While this reporter interviewed him, a number of potential customers lined up to buy dates from the Kashmiri Pandit who was all smiles.

Saqib Mugloo is the Online News Editor at The Kashmir Walla.

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